If your body craves a hot shower in the morning, you’re very normal. Most people turn the hot water tap all the way up in order to feel the heat before adjusting the temperature with cold water.
However, a cold shower should also have a place in your daily routine. That’s right — a cold shower! That shower you hate taking when you’re the last person to wake up in the morning. Well, maybe if you read about some of the benefits of taking a cold shower, you might actually change and start liking how you feel after taking one. So, here are 12 health benefits of taking cold showers:
1. They improve circulation
According to researchers Keatinge et al, cold showers have a powerful effect on circulation. They increase your heart rate, releasing a rush of blood throughout your body. This rush then boosts your circulation which encourages your arteries to efficiently carry blood more and your heart to pump more effectively. What’s more, the improved circulation carries over even after you leave the shower and improves the flow of blood to tissues and organs throughout the day.
2. They help prevent cardiovascular disease
Because exposure to cold temperatures stimulates the circulatory system, inflammation and the risk of cardiovascular disease reduces. However, a cold shower has the opposite effect on people with cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
3. They improve lymphatics
Cold showers also dramatically improve lymphatic flow which depends on muscle contractions to move through the system. If the flow is stagnant or slow, it leads to lymphedema and pooling in the lower boundaries because it’s not carrying away waste products from immune related activity promptly. A cold shower leads to whole-body contractions which help to squeeze lymphatic flow quicker. This will help you feel fresher and your hair and skin will appear stronger and younger.
4. They help boost weight loss
Fat cells like brown fat generate heat by burning fat. They burn fat when you expose your body to cold conditions like in a shower. You can find these fat cells around the shoulder and neck area which are the best spots for showers!
5. They boost immunity
A cold shower can also boost the immune system. It does this by activating two important virus fighting cytokines. According to German study, interleukin-4 and gamma interferon are elevated and work more when you expose your body was to cold. Those who regularly take cold showers have been shown to have a lower chance of developing colds, cancer, flu’s, varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
6. They give your skin and hair a healthy glow
A cold shower helps tighten and constrict the blood flow which in turn gives your skin and hair a healthier glow.
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7. They help the body adjust to sudden weather changes
When you take a cold shower regularly, it helps your body to better adapt to extreme temperatures. One of the most challenging environmental stresses you have to deal with on a regular basis is sudden weather changes. This is why so a number of people get colds & flu’s when the temperature changes. However, people who take cold showers are more adaptable and thus their bodies respond to this stress better.
8. They improve sleep
When you take a cold shower an hour before bed, it could help your body stimulate sleep signals, giving you a deeper sleep.
9. They boost metabolism
Cold showers also have been shown to improve metabolism. This comes from the same brown fat cell properties we discussed earlier. Brown fat has more mitochondria than white fat and burns more energy in order to produce heat and boost metabolism. Brown fat can also helps to slow down aging, fight obesity and reduce the risk of degenerative disease.
10. They give an energy boost
Cold water will give your body a boost of energy like nothing else. Experience is the best teacher. So, give it a try.
11. They improve mental health
Cold showers can also improve mental health. According to a study by Dr. Nikolai Shevchuk in the stufy ‘Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression’, a cold shower can have a positive effect on those who suffer from depression: “A cold shower is expected to send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which could result in an anti-depressive effect.”
12. They boost fertility
Heat can have a negative impact on sperm count in males. So, a cold shower can actually help boost fertility for men. In the late 1950s, various experiments showed that hot baths are an effective contraceptive. This is because when the temperature of a man’s testes is increased the sperm count decreases.
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How to do cold showers
1. Head and neck first
Run the water over your head and neck first, then progress down your body. This is the quickest way to alter your body temperature and acclimatize. It’s the same reason it’s easier to dive straight in to cold water than slowly walk in. Run the water over the back of your neck, then your face, then chest, upper back and the rest of the body. Dipping a limb in does not help. All you’re doing is signalling to your body that it is really cold – causing your body to revolt and compel you not to get in. Get on with it, by starting with the head.
2. Control your posture
I used to walk 10 minutes to the shops in winter wearing just a t-shirt. Purely to train body control through posture, mindset and breathing. What happens to your posture when you’re cold? You shrug your shoulders, clench your fists, close the body up and effectively try to cuddle yourself. Well, posture controls the mind as well as the mind controlling posture. So do the opposite of ‘cold posture’. This is how I could walk around outside without feeling cold. The second I stopped being conscious of it and let me body go into ‘cold posture’ I immediately started feeling cold.Stand tall, open the body. Shoulders back and head high. Keep your arms by your sides and focus on standing tall. This will directly oppose the bodies natural reaction to getting in a cold shower, which is to huddle over and close your posture.This abundance style posture will literally make you not feel cold, when combined with the next two steps.
3. Control your breathing
Your posture closes up – what else happens when you get in the cold water? Your breathing becomes short and shallow, right? Same thing, control that. Do the opposite. Take deep breaths in through your stomach and long, slow breaths out. Do the exact opposite of what your body will do naturally in the cold.
4. Control your state
You have to hack your brain. You’re doing something that is uncomfortable and avoidable. Just like pushing through the last couple of reps in the gym, you have to go beyond the point your body wants to stop. Empty your mind of all thoughts of the cold. Instead focus your thinking to your posture and breathing. If you focus on these two things and let everything else fall away, you have completed the triumvirate and you will not feel cold. It’s meditative. A great way to learn to control your thoughts and focus your mind.
5. Embrace the rush – live it
When you do these things, you will be in control of the experience your body is having. Adrenaline will sky-rocket. It feels great, it’s a perverse kind of high. You have to embrace this rush. The adrenaline is your brain telling your body to fight-or-flight – flight in this case. Get out of there.You can control it, not by trying to fight the urge, but instead by embracing it. Enjoy the adrenaline rush. Smile (controlling your posture). Laugh or scream like a maniac – it helps. You have to do something to ‘release the pressure’ and let some of the adrenaline run out. If you hurt yourself, are scared, have an orgasm, etc. – anything that sharply spikes your adrenaline – you scream, your facial expressions change. Run with it when you’re doing cold showers and learn to embrace it.
6. Do NOT run it warm first and turn it down once you’re in
I think this is terrible advice. First of all it is contrary to point 1, which is what your body naturally wants to do. Secondly, mentally, it is harder than just getting right in. Going from neutral to negative is a shorter jump than going from positive to negative. A warm shower is simply too pleasant. If you want to do contrast showers, they are great and have many benefits, but do cold first. I’ve experimented with this. I do contrast showers after the gym. Cold first is much easier.
7. Turn the air-con off/radiator on, for when you get out
Getting out of the cold shower and standing straight in line of the aircon, is painful. Turn it off before you get in the shower. It’s not the actual temperature that is the problem, but the draft. The aircon is still set to 16+ celsius. It’s the draft when you are cold that is painful.
Once you’re out, get mostly dried and then move around a bit. Let all of that pent up adrenaline and nervous energy out by doing 10 burpees or some clap push ups. You will feel incredibly energised afterwards.
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Nikolai A.Shevchuk. Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression. Medical Hypotheses Volume 70, Issue 5, 2008, Pages 995-1001
Keatinge, RW et al. Cardiovascular responses to ice-cold showers. Journal of Applied PhysiologyVol. 19, No. 6.
Tags: Benefits of cold showers, Cold shower benefits, Cold Showers, Improve circulation, shower temperatures, Why take a cold shower