Hot, rather than cold, showers are something that many people look forward to, especially after a long day’s work. They are relaxing and rejuvenating, not to mention it just feels good to have that feeling of bodily cleanliness.
But did you know that cold showers also have a ton of benefits? Although they might not be the most pleasant, especially first thing in the morning, you might end up loving them because of their positive effects.
Read ahead to learn all about cold showers, their pros and cons, and some tips to help you get started.
What Is a Cold Shower?
Hydrotherapy, also called water therapy, uses water to treat certain health conditions or improve overall health. Although water therapy can use hot or cold water, cold showers are the latest craze!
Cold showers have health benefits, but they also come with some drawbacks. You have to understand them to decide whether cold showers are something you want to include in your routine.
Benefits of Cold Showers
If you struggle to wake up in the morning, cold showers might be the perfect solution. Indeed, cold showers are known to get rid of morning fatigue by increasing heart rate, alertness, and oxygen intake.
Cold showers can also be beneficial for the skin. If you suffer from itchy skin or a similar condition, cold showers can help you fight the urge to scratch. Moreover, the cold water causes your blood vessels to constrict, which improves the appearance of your skin and gives it a healthy glow. It also does not dry out your skin as much as hot water since it doesn’t dissolve the sebum layer protecting and hydrating your skin.
If you want your hair to be extra shiny, use a hydrating conditioner and then rinse them with cold water. Cold water seals your hair cuticles and locks down all the moisture coming from the conditioner.
Cold showers could boost your immune system. A study of 3,018 people found that individuals who took cold showers, regardless of duration, were 29% less likely to call in sick. Scientists believe that cold showers could stimulate your body to produce leukocytes, which are cells that help fight illnesses like the common cold or the flu.
Cold showers might also help you with weight loss. You have two main types of fat cells in your body: white and brown. White fat accumulates in different places and is the type of fat you want to lose. Brown fat helps you stay warm and plays a role in temperature regulation. It also produces heat and helps burn fat, but only when the body is exposed to cold temperatures, like when taking a cold shower. However, you would have to take cold showers for at least two hours every day for six weeks to observe weight loss, which might not be very realistic.
A cold shower might not be pleasant, but those who take one regularly report feeling invigorated after. This is because cold showers improve blood circulation by making your body work harder to maintain a stable internal temperature. Increased blood circulation gives you more energy, but it also speeds up recovery from injury by delivering more blood, and therefore oxygen, to the injured area. People suffering from certain conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes could particularly benefit from cold showers and improved circulation.
If you are an athlete, your trainer might have asked you to take cold showers, and for good reasons. Immersing your body in cold water right after training helps decrease inflammation and cools down your body. It can also reduce the fatigue associated with intensive physical training and, as mentioned, speed up recovery in cases of injury.
Finally, taking cold showers could improve your mental health by triggering the production of endorphins. Endorphins are often referred to as the “happy hormones” because they cause a feeling of pleasure and well-being. A clinical trial found that taking a cold shower for 5 minutes, two to three times every week, could relieve the symptoms of depression.
Disadvantages of Taking Cold Showers
If you are down with a cold or any other illness, you want to avoid taking cold showers. It might be difficult for your immune system to handle cold temperatures and fight off diseases at the same time. You could end up sicker for longer because your body cannot overcome the sickness as quickly as usual.
Also, if you struggle to fall asleep, you might want to stay away from cold showers, especially at night. Showering with cold water at night will increase your energy, thus making it harder to get a good night’s sleep.
Also, let’s be honest. Cold showers are not fun, at least for most of us. If you like to take your time and relax in the shower, then cold showers might not be the way to go.
Things to Watch Out For
If you suffer from depression, you should not discontinue your medication in favor of taking cold showers. Although they might help with symptoms of depression, they are not a replacement therapy. You should always talk to your healthcare provider before stopping any medication.
Also, if you suffer from heart conditions like congestive heart disease, you should talk to your physicians before trying cold showers. They increase heart rate, which could be too much to handle if your heart is not in good health.
The main thing to remember when taking a cold shower is that the water temperature needs to be 70°F (20°C) or lower for the benefits to kick in. You can decide to use cold water for the whole shower, but you do not have to. You can alternatively start with a warm shower and then switch to cold water for 30 seconds to two minutes.