People have been using exposure to cold water for health reasons for many years (1). At first glance, cold showers don’t seem like they would be all that pleasant. Why would anyone want to put themselves through the discomfort of feeling cold water all over their body? As it turns out, there are actually quite a few benefits to be had from taking a cold shower. From improving your circulation to potentially helping with weight loss, cold showers can have a positive impact on your health in quite a few different ways. Let’s take a look at some of the science behind how cold showers can have such a positive impact.
Start the day off right!
Cold showers can help to wake you up in the morning. If you find yourself struggling to get going first thing in the morning, try starting your day with a refreshing cold shower. The shock of the cold water hitting your skin will help jump-start your system and wake you up better than any cup of coffee ever could. Not only that, but the increased circulation (2) that comes from taking a cold shower will also help to give you more energy throughout the day.
This is because when you expose yourself to cold temperatures, your blood vessels constrict in order to preserve heat. Once you get out of the cold and warm up again, your blood vessels dilate and allow more blood flow throughout your body. This increased circulation can help deliver more oxygen to the brain (2) which helps you to start the day, firing on all cylinders. Eases itchy skin
Another benefit of cold showers is that they can help to calm itchy skin, as the cold can numb the skin, albeit temporarily. When you have an itch, the urge to scratch is actually caused by histamines that cause inflammation in your skin. When you scratch, you are causing even more inflammation and possibly even damage to your skin. That’s where cold water comes in.
The cool temperature of the water helps to stop the “itch message” being sent from the skin to the brain (3). Having a cold shower isn’t a long-term solution, but it will definitely give some relief and ease the discomfort of skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
Helps overall well-being.
Taking a cold shower is not only character-building, because you feel like you are overcoming a challenge, but it can also have the placebo effect of making you feel healthier overall. Although it doesn’t actually boost the immune system, people who take cold showers feel that it is a healthy behavior. Research has shown that this has the knock-on effect of making them believe they are healthier, which means they have fewer sick days at work.
This is a typical example of a belief actually being demonstrated in your behaviors and life (4). Overcoming this daily challenge can also make you feel more confident, which is another boost to your overall well-being.
May reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
Taking a cold shower may not sound like the most pleasant experience, but it can actually be quite beneficial for your mood and well-being. Studies have shown that exposure to cold water can help to reduce symptoms of depression and improve general mood. One theory is that cold water sends electrical messages to the brain that help to reduce depression and low mood.
Additionally, cold water exposure can release endorphins, which are hormones that are linked to feelings of happiness and well-being (5). While taking a cold shower can feel a little uncomfortable, there are no side effects such as those linked to taking medication (1). If you feel low and take a cold shower, try letting the water run over your head, as it has been suggested that cooling the brain can play a part in protecting the brain and reducing inflammation. Both of which will ease your depressed feeling (1). Start with warm water and reduce the temperature gradually.
May help with weight loss
Another potential benefit of taking cold showers is that they may help with some weight loss. Brown fat is a type of fat that helps to burn calories and generate heat. Brown fat is most active when exposed to colder temperatures, as the purpose of brown fat is to help keep us warm. This is why exposure to cold temperatures has been shown to increase brown fat activity (6).
In addition, studies have shown that regular exposure to cold temperatures can help increase metabolism by helping to convert white fat into brown fat (7), which in turn can lead to weight loss. Brown fat is mostly around your shoulders and at the top of your back, so this is the best place for the cold water from the shower to be aimed at. Brown fat contains mitochondria, which is what accounts for color.
Mitochondria are the power packs for the body that produce energy. This is why brown fat burns calories and, hence, produce heat, and how having more brown fat can also boost your energy levels (8) and indirectly lead to some weight loss. More research needs to be done linking cold showers with brown fat and weight loss. However, there is potential for cold showers to boost weight loss when done consistently (9) alongside regular exercise and a healthy, balanced diet.
Athletes have taken cold showers, or baths, to reduce muscle soreness post-workout for a long time. The cold water has a pain-relieving effect on the skin and muscles, to reduce inflammation and soreness after exercise. It is best to do this immediately and regularly for at least two days (10). Muscle soreness is eased by taking a cold shower or bath as it also enables lactic acid to be dispersed (11).
The best way to take a cold shower
- First of all, do what you normally do when you have a shower. Use your favorite shower gel, have a wash, and then rinse off. Then, step away from the water and turn the temperature down to cold.
- To start with, just put one leg under the cold water. The reason for this is that your legs are the farthest limbs away from your heart. Once you have done this, hold the shower head and move the water up your leg. Then do the same on the other leg.
- Next run the cold water over your arms, moving from the hands up to the shoulders. When you get up to your shoulder, run the water under your arm and down your sides. Now put the shower head in the holder and stand under the shower, allowing the water to run over your back. Finally, allow the water to run over your head.
- All this should take no more than a few seconds. The next day, repeat the process but see if you can keep the water on your skin a little longer. Slowly build up until you no longer need to hold the shower head on each body part but can let the water run over your whole body.
- Start with fifteen seconds a day and build up in ten-second increments. There is no set time to take a cold shower; however, do not build up too quickly, and do not spend more than ten minutes under a cold shower to avoid any negative effects.
- Once you are finished, gently pat yourself dry with a towel and enjoy the feeling of refreshed energy! As a word of warning, do not have a cold shower if you are feeling ill. If you have a high temperature, do not be tempted to have a cold shower, a cool one will be better for you.
There are many reasons why you should consider taking a cold shower next time you step into the bathroom. From itchy skin to weight loss, there are many different ways in which cold showers can improve your health. So next time you’re feeling low on energy or simply want to give yourself a little boost, try turning down the temperature on your shower knob and enjoy all the benefits that come with it. Hope that helps you see the benefit of cold showers, make sure you come back for more articles like this. I hope you enjoyed reading it and get some value from it.