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Polar Plunge will benefit Georgia Special Olympics

When the temperature drops, your first instinct might be to head indoors to exercise. But there are benefits to being outside during the winter. Studies show exercising outside in winter increases calorie-burning brown fat and raises your metabolism. Daily doses of sunshine increase your vitamin D levels and help combat seasonal affective disorder. Exercising in the cold can make a healthy heart even stronger.

Jump into the cold water at Acworth Beach for your health and to help a good cause

Most people who go for a swim in February do so indoors. There is a special group, however, who will plunge themselves into the cold water at Acworth Beach next month. You can join them.

On February 22, anyone with a warm heart and a tolerance for the cold can participate in the 2020 Special Olympics Polar Plunge.

» 3 benefits of exercising outside in cold weather

"Polar Plunge is the largest fundraising effort benefiting Special Olympics, and many states across the nation participate in this annual event," the event's website states. Proceeds go to provide free, year-round training and competition for Special Olympics Georgia's 26,841 athletes.

You can participate as an individual or part of a team, but you must collect at least $50 in pledges to take the plunge. Prizes will be awarded for best costume, highest individual fundraiser, highest team fundraiser and more.

» Physical activity at any intensity will help you live longer, study finds

In addition to prizes, fundraisers will receive:

  • Level 1: $50 – T-shirt
  • Level 2: $150 – Dry bag
  • Level 3: $250- Water bottle
  • Level 4: $500- Key/wallet tracker
  • Level 5: $1000 - Fleece

SOGA's goal is to raise $90,000 from the plunge. The top fundraising teams so far are the Atlanta Men's Roller Derby, MARTA Police, GBI, the North Cobb Civitan Fruitcakes and Dunwoody Police, in that order. You can register online on the event's website.

Exercising in the cold won’t just help Special Olympics, however. It also might help your health.

Research shows daily exposure to cold increases a body’s volume of brown adipose tissue, or brown fat. But isn’t fat a bad thing? It depends. Unlike white fat, which stores calories, brown fat burns them.

2014 study found the cold not only makes brown fat more active, it also could cause you to increase your brown-fat cells.

Also, exercising outdoors boosts your level of vitamin D, which sometimes takes its own plunge during the shorter days of winter.

» CDC's biggest health threats that affected Georgia

If plunging into water expected to be 47-57 degrees doesn't sound like a fun afternoon, you can still help Special Olympics athletes by making a donation. You can pledge money in the name of an individual or team, or just because you want to help.


2020 Special Olympics Polar Plunge
Gates open 11 a.m.; plunge begins at 1 p.m.
Saturday, February 22
Acworth Beach at Cauble Park: 4425 Beach St., Acworth, GA 30101