For many of us… as in the majority of us who like some of those simple things like warmth and comfort; the thought of a cold shower probably makes your loose skin crawl. Rightly so – who would want to force themselves into a freezing curtain of water instead of a nice relaxing steam wash? Unless you’re in the army, or live in the middle of the desert, it’s madness surely?
Well, actually, maybe not. It turns out that there are actually several pretty convincing benefits of cold showers… No, honestly. When you think about it rationally, having the access to hot water is a pretty new privilege in the grand scheme of things. Prior to the industrious Greeks’ inventions, hot water was an abstract concept, unless you wanted to boil it over an open flame, bucketful by bucketful.
All those archaic people managed to get by alright, didn’t they? Despite wars and sickness, of course. But really: they might have been on to something with those freezing showers…
9 Benefits of cold showers:
Cold showers can improve circulation
You’ll be familiar with the issues of constricting or expanding pipes depending on temperatures. Our circulatory system works in almost the exact same way – the vast network of veins and arteries, which we reply upon for things like existing and being alive, can constrict when exposed to really cold temperatures (Wakeup-world.com).
Constriction means that the blood flow has to work at a much higher pressure; basically your body naturally ups the ante in order to keep blood going to all your vital organs. This increase in circulation is excellent for your overall health, not only in terms of cardiovascular issues but also some superficial benefits too.
Increased immunity by way of exposure
Despite how afraid we are of getting sick by exposing our bodies to harmful external forces – the immune system can only ever strengthen itself by keeping fit. Compare it to Rocky; if he didn’t spend all that time lifting horse-carts and running up mountains, how would he able to fight in the ring?
Your immune system is the exact same. Cold showers are a safe environment for you to expose your body to low temperatures which can temper your immune system. Usually, this means higher white blood cell counts amongst some other increases, as long as it’s regular (TheHackedMind.com).
Finishing a normal shower with some cold water can help skin
One of the major benefits of heat, and in particular steam, is its ability to open up our skin’s pores. Normally, this will be part of a cleansing regime: open pores, wash face, dry up and you’re done. However, if you splash some cold water back over the skin, this will constrict and close the pores which means they’ll be much less susceptible to dirt and grime again in the future.
Also, you remember the circulation benefits? Well this also helps to reduce the emergence of varicose veins or dark shadows under the eyes (INeedMotivation.com).
Cold showers are excellent for muscle recovery
Whilst professional athletes often take it a bit too far by submerging themselves in full vats or baths of ice water; there is a definite benefit. You don’t have to go to these lengths, though. A simple cold shower after a strenuous bout of exercise can help to increase your recovery afterwards.
Aids in weight loss
This may seem like one of the most unlikely benefits covered so far, but regularly taking cold showers has actually been shown to lend a helping hand with burning fat. Essentially, the body works upon two different types of fat; brown and white (a fact known by precious few people).
Brown fat is the ‘good fat’, which generates heat to keep the body’s temperature regulated, in doing this it burns calories. Taking a cold shower can be something of a shortcut to activating this ability of brown fat, therefore increasing your metabolism and burning away some unwanted calories (wakeup-world.com).
It actually increases testosterone levels
This is a well-kept secret, but it’s true. Cold showers can actually help increase your testosterone levels. This is a fantastic option for those of us who are always on the lookout for healthy, natural ways of boosting testosterone production.
An increase in testosterone can boast a variety of benefits in itself – increased sex drive, better energy levels, much easier to get to sleep, as well as a host of exercise and fitness advantages (TheHackedMind.com).
The temperature can help to wake you up
A cold shower can wake you up and set your energy levels for the day much better than a long, luxurious warm shower. When we stand under a cold shower, the body’s breathing rhythm deepens in response, which sets things in motion throughout your entire system. All of this is a great wake up call, and can instantly increase alertness.
It may help in a mental capacity
There is a lot of talk surrounding cold showers and their mental health benefits. For example, a study carried out Virginia Commonwealth University showed that cold showers have a mentally stimulating effect on the ‘blue spot’ of the brain. This generates noradrenaline, which is a natural combatant of some of the symptoms of depression (Wakeup-world.com).
Hormone production can also increase
Much like the testosterone benefit of cold showers; they can also boost the hormone production abilities of the body. This can be incredibly helpful in regards to fertility or when trying to conceive – an increase in heat in the genital area of a man can actually harm the sperm count!
So, although it might be miles from your natural disposition, there are actually a great many benefits to taking regular cold showers. Aside from tempering yourself into a machine who can then claim to withstand freezing temperatures, you’ll also have lovely skin and a healthier outlook on life!
If you’re struggling with the process then start off gradually – take regular showers with a cold finish, and then gradually switch the ratio until you’re in a mostly cold shower, always tweaking until you’re able to go from start to finish with no heat.