You probably see cold showers as dreadful things that you’ve never put yourself through of your own free will; rather, they’re forced on you by circumstances beyond your control. I invite you to consider five surprising benefits of cold showers.
1. Cold showers increase mood and alertness
Who doesn’t feel a bit groggy when they take that first step out of bed? This is something everyone struggles with, but if you’d like to put some pep in your step first thing in the a.m., take a cold shower before you go to work. When cold water pours over your body, your breathing deepens in response to the shock of the cold (this is your body trying to keep you warm by increasing overall oxygen intake). Your heart rate will also increase, resulting in a rush of blood through your body that will help you get energized for the day.
2. Cold showers strengthen immunity and circulation
Remember how I mentioned that cold showers speed up your metabolic rate, which helps you lose fat? The increase of this rate activates your immune system, which releases virus-fighting white blood cells that will help you get sick less frequently. Cold showers also increase your overall blood circulation, which can help you avoid hypertension and the hardening of arteries.
3. Cold showers give you attractive hair and skin
If you’d like to reduce the appearance of acne, cold showers could do the job. Hot water dries out your skin, while cold water tightens your cuticles and pores, preventing them from getting clogged. You can also use cold showers for shinier, more attractive hair that your partner can’t resist playing with. Cold water will close your cuticle, making it less likely dirt can accumulate in your scalp. For further reading that will help you improve your skin appearance.
4. Stimulates Weight Loss
Cold showers can aid weight loss in an unexpected way. The human body contains two types of fat tissue, white fat, and brown fat. White fat is accumulated when we consume more calories than our body needs to function, and we don’t burn these calories for energy. This body fat piles up at our waist, lower back, neck, and thighs, and is the one we all struggle to eliminate. Brown fat is the good fat, which generates heat to keep our bodies warm, and is activated when exposed to extreme cold, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center, a Harvard Medical School affiliate. Thus, cold showers can promote brown fat activity.
5. Speeds up Muscle Soreness & Recovery
We have all seen athletes taking ice baths after training to reduce muscle soreness, but a quick cold shower after breaking a sweat at the gym can be just as effective, especially in relieving delayed-onset muscle soreness. A 2009 study analyzing 17 trials involved over 360 people who either rested or immersed themselves in cold water after resistance training, cycling, or running. It found that 24-minute cold water baths were effective in relieving sore muscles one to four days after exercises with a water temperature of 50 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit, or 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. However, some studies involved colder temperatures.
6. Relieves Depression
Cold showers have been shown to relieve depression symptoms due to the intense impact of cold receptors in the skin, which send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from the peripheral nerve endings to the brain. Thus, it produces an anti-depressive effect, and boosts moods, making it a pick-me-up. A 2008 study found that cold hydrotherapy has an analgesic effect, and does not appear to have noticeable side effects or cause dependence. This treatment included one to two cold showers of 38 degrees Fahrenheit, two to three minutes long, followed by a five-minute gradual adaptation to make the procedure less shocking.
7. Eases Stress
Jumping into the shower without letting it heat up, or going into the ocean without slowly acclimating to it, can help promote hardening, increasing tolerance to stress, and even disease. A 1994 study found a drastic decrease in uric acid levels during and following exposure to a cold stimulus. There was also an increase in glutathione, an antioxidant that keeps all other antioxidants performing at their optimal levels. The participants, who were 10 healthy people who swam regularly in ice-cold water during the winter, adapted to repeated oxidative stress.