The last thing you would want to do on a chilly winter morning is to have a cold shower. For many, it’s not a welcomed idea, even during the hot sunny summer. A cold shower can, indeed, be suicidal in an unfavorable climate and for people with special conditions. However, what you may not know is that it offers tremendous benefits , too. From keeping you fit to helping to relieve pain, you may have missed plenty of goodies that this ancient practice packs.
For you to say you’re having a cold shower, the water’s temperature must be less than 60°F. Also, the exposure time must not fall below 30 seconds to elicit the health effects it possesses. Whether you are an athlete seeking to get over muscle soreness or you are obese and considering how to shed some weight, by the time you finish consuming this piece, I can assure you that you will be amazed at all you can gain by taking cold showers regularly. These claims are evidence-based and require no extraneous spending.
Here are seven of such amazing benefits that a cold shower affords.
1. An Incredible Immune Booster
Following the antigen-antibody interplay that operates in the body, you can elicit the release of disease-fighting agents in your system by having cold showers. Cold showers deliver a shock to your body, interpreted as an antigen. The cells that fight infections, called leukocytes, then get released, mopping up common colds, flu, and other viral infections you may already have.
No wonder ancient wisdom had it that the best way to overcome cold is to bathe in cold water. The water doesn’t have to be insanely cold, but you are sure it isn’t warm or lukewarm. At first, you will shiver and maybe experience shock. But with a successful cold shower, you get a tremendous release of leukocytes that boost your immunity.
Researchers have taken this further by seeking to establish whether there is a connection between cold showers and immunity building. A clinical trial among workers in the Netherlands .revealed that those who embraced cold showers for a minimum of 30 seconds for three months were 29% less affected by sickness than their colleagues who didn’t. Similarly, an effort is currently on to investigate the possibility of cold showers preventing certain types of cancer.
2. Greatly Improves Metabolism
Here is one fact that may excite you if you are obese: cold showers, coupled with an improved lifestyle, can tremendously help you eliminate those unwanted body fats. A cold shower does this by significantly raising your body’s metabolism. A 2021 study puts the percentage metabolism increase at 50%, helping to burn up to 1 lb. in well-trained athletes.
Dietary and medical experts categorize body fats into two: white and brown. The white type is responsible for obesity, while the brown type is present in every healthy person in a moderate quantity. As it goes, a healthy brown fat in the right amount also means a healthy white fat because the brown controls the white.
Findings have shown that cold showers help to metabolize brown fat, bringing it to a normal level. Thus, if you shower with cold water regularly, you can hasten your weight loss process if you’re enrolled in one. It doesn’t work in isolation from healthy lifestyle practices , but combined with your regimen, you are on your way to looking 16 years again.
3. Enhanced Circulation
This advantage is particularly helpful to those dealing with diabetes or high blood pressure. It may not feel pleasant dipping yourself in a cold bathtub, but if you persist, experts claim it can rejig your overall circulatory system. During a cold shower, your body switches to a survival mode that recruits resources for increased blood circulation. With a continuous repetition of this cycle, the circulatory system becomes “trained” and alerted to deliver faster than before.
In the same line, you will notice that when you sustain an injury that leads to inflammation, you’re told to place a block of iced water on it. It’s because doing so improves the circulation of oxygenated blood to the area, which consequently speeds up recovery. Sportsmen and women have long used this method and have found it highly effective.
4. Improved Skin and Hair Hydration
Unlike warm baths that open up your skin, cold showers do the opposite. They keep the pores closed, thereby retaining the sebum essential for keeping the hair and skin shining. As such, if you constantly experience skin dryness or your hair looks lifeless, it may pay to have a cold shower at least twice a week to correct this trend. But if you regularly have breakouts on your face, warm baths are your best bet.
5. Improved Mood and Focus
Exposing your body to cold releases three key hormones: norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine. Together, these hormones stimulate what is known as the sympathetic nervous system , responsible for a fight or flight response, which makes you panic or yell as you dip yourself into that cold water.
Not only does the cold temperature elevate the hormone during the exposure but for as long as 30 minutes or even hours after, depending on how cold the water was and how long you stayed in it. The benefit here is that you get an improved mood and focus, similar to what you get after going for a run or doing a workout.
Coffee also works similarly by activating the sympathetic nervous system. That is why many people find that they no longer need to rely on coffee in the morning if they instead jump into cold water. To get this benefit, however, you need to ensure that your water is indeed cold (60°F) and stays at least 30 seconds in it.
6. Muscle Recovery and Growth
After an intense workout session, you feel strains or soreness in your muscles, suggesting that you’ve torn them a bit. This feeling is normal and part of the process needed to grow them. If you are fatigued and would love to recover quickly from the soreness, launching into a cold pool or that tub is a quick path to achieving that. Athletes looking for rapid recovery between events will find this very helpful.
Conversely, if your goal is to build muscle and strength, having a cold shower immediately after a workout session can be counterproductive. That’s because an ice bath after a workout interferes with the information flow required to help build strong muscles. Many recent studies attest that cold-water immersion post-training significantly reduces muscle growth.
7. An Incredible Way to Strengthen Your Mind
One of the ways cold baths or showers strengthen your mind is by activating the portion of your brain that suppresses impulsivity. Life can become so busy that you get annoyed at the slightest provocation. When such happens, you can ruin a lot of things that took you years to build. But with a regular cold shower, you get a mental signal that can help you remain calm and not overreact whenever stressors occur. That aside, it also helps build tremendous resilience and grip that can transfer into other areas of your life.
How to Get the Best Out of Cold Showers
There’s a wrong way to do the cold shower thing, which will deny you the benefits. Learn the four things you must remember when trying to exploit the benefits of cold therapy .
The water must indeed be cold. As noted in this piece, 60°F or less is the recommended temperature to help you derive the benefits mentioned in this article.
Do not rush things. It would help if you started small and gradually ascended the ladder regarding exposure time. From 30 seconds, you can raise the bar to 60 seconds, and from there, proceed higher. As you cautiously progress, you can learn what is working and what you may need to adjust and improve.
Switch between hot and cold showers but end with cold. UCLA Health trainers for athletes advise this as a sure way to get over fatigue and muscle soreness.
Let your healthcare provider help you decide if you are OK with cold showers. That’s because, as good and beneficial as it is, not everyone should try it. People with cardiovascular conditions, cold hives, and Raynaud’s syndrome are not fit to have cold showers. There may be other reasons besides the ones mentioned that may make a cold shower inappropriate for you. That’s why seeking clarity from your healthcare provider is always a great way to go.
This article is not suggesting cold showers as a replacement for a healthy lifestyle. Instead, it portrays it as a catalyst or an accompaniment to help you achieve your body goals. You must still exercise moderately and regularly, eat correctly, and follow the medical counsel to record success.
Nevertheless, if you can follow the science-backed recommendations, you can best use this natural and cost-effective therapy to address many of your health needs. If, during your course of trying cold showering, you encounter anything you consider abnormal, you shouldn’t hesitate to stop and ask questions. After all, it’s your health we’re talking about here.