I know, when I heard it for the first time, I also thought why on earth would you do this? But, believe it or not, there are actually quite a few benefits to it, and after a while it’s not even that bad. I’ll share with you some scientific benefits, as well as my own experience.
Personally, I’ve been taking cold showers on and off for a couple years now. I must say I haven’t been doing it consistently every day, but this year I’ve been doing it almost every day so far.
Unlike other healthy habits that I’ve learned the past years, with cold showering I can’t really say that I can feel much of the benefits in everyday life. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any benefits. It’s probably because the benefits of cold showering develop more slowly.
I first learned about cold showering a couple years ago when I was very serious about fitness. One of the reasons I got into it was because of the supposedly positive effects on muscle recovery, which we’ll get into later.
So a couple years ago my main motivations were the health benefits of cold showering, but I have to say that nowadays that motivation changed. Before we get into the other scientific benefits of cold showers, I first want to share my own two main reasons why I personally take cold showers.
The first reason has to do with the comfort zone. Most of you probably are familiar with the comfort zone, but for those who are not it can be referred to as the list of things you feel comfortable doing. For example, when you were a kid riding a bike for the first time was scary, but now it’s very easy so it’s within your comfort zone. This principle can apply to pretty much everything, both physically and mentally.
By taking cold showers you’re doing something that is out of your comfort zone. Do this until you feel no problem taking a cold shower and your comfort zone has grown. Every time your comfort zone grows, it makes it easier to do new things you’re not comfortable with.
Next to growing my comfort zone, there’s another reason why I take cold showers that also has a lot to do with the comfort zone. This other reason has to do with taking cold showers in the morning. When I take a cold shower in the morning I go from warm and comfortable, to cold and uncomfortable and this is my first obstacle of the day. I have the choice here to stay and bed and stay comfortable or get out of bed and do something I don’t really want to do.
This choice is very important, as it has a lot of impact on how the rest of the day will go.
When I start my day right by overcoming this first obstacle, it will be a lot easier to overcome other obstacles as well, like working out, meditating or doing work. This decision trains your discipline, and next to that it also just wakes you up immediately.
In ancient times, the Romans had a room called a “frigidarium”. Frigidus stands for “cold” in Latin. This room usually contained a cold bath, which would be taken after a hot bath. Because the hot water opened the pores of the skin, and the cold water in the frigidarium closes the pores, the skin was trained for blood circulation. In the modern world the traditional ritual of the frigidarium has been kept alive in most saunas and spas
What are cold showers?
Cold showers are showers with a temperature below 70 degrees fahrenheit or 21 degrees celsius. The past years it has gained a lot of popularity, and for good reasons.
Right now I will go deeper into 5 benefits that are scientifically proven to improve your overall health.
1. Improves the cardiovascular system
If you have watched my video on intermittent fasting you know that cardiovascular diseases are a serious problem in the modern world. One third of all deaths is a result of cardiovascular disease.
Increased blood circulation is one of the main reasons experts recommend taking cold showers.
As cold water hits the body, it constricts circulation on the surface of your body. This causes blood in your deeper tissues to circulate at faster rates to maintain ideal body temperature.
2. May minimize the symptoms of anxiety and depression
While cold showers, in theory, help to minimize the symptoms of anxiety, more research is needed to prove that cold water is an effective anxiety treatment. But nonetheless there are some interesting facts that could support the theory of cold showers minimizing anxiety symptoms.
Anxiety often leads to an increased heart rate. Some studies have found that cold water immersion can lower your heart rate up to 15%. Taking a cold shower also forces you in the present moment. Because you spend your time focused on how cold the water is, it temporarily takes your mind off the things you might be worried or fearful for.
This way the cold shower may act as a mindfulness practice, keeping you in the present moment instead of future events that are out of your control.
Cold showers is gaining popularity as a treatment for depression. This is of course depending on the severity of the depression. According to a clinical trial, taking cold showers for up to 5 minutes 2 to 3 times a week help relieve symptoms of depression.
The cold water sends many electrical impulses to your brain. They shock your system to increase alertness, clarity and energy levels. Afterwards endorphins are also released. The release of these feel good hormones increases the feeling of well-being and optimism. This is the same effect you feel after a workout, which leads me to the next benefit.
3. Reduces muscle soreness and improves muscle recovery
If you ever participated in a high-activity workout, you probably woke up sore the next morning. The same goes for trying new psychical activities that leave your muscles sore.
This physical pain is caused by microscopic tears and inflammation in the fibers of your muscles. The cold shower lowers the temperature of the damaged tissues and helps to reduce any swelling and inflammation.
Studies indicate that athletes who soak in cold water for short periods of time experience less muscle soreness later on. The cold water causes blood vessels to constrict and this reduces the blood flow to the area.
So the next time, after a heavy or new type of work out your body isn’t used to. Make sure to take a cold shower afterwards.
If you would practice cold showers on a regular basis, it can boost your metabolism. Your body simply needs to burn more calories and work harder to keep you warm.
Your body has 2 kinds of fat. Brown fat and white fat. White fat is stored in your body when we consume more calories than we burn. When brown fat is exposed to cold water, it is activated and helps to eliminate white fat. This was found in a study from 2009.
Please note that cold showers should not be considered a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise routine. But cold showers are a perfect supplement in a healthy lifestyle.
5. Improved immune system
A study found that people who take cold showers are 29% less likely to call in sick for work or school. Scientific studies also found that taking a cold shower increases the amount of white blood cells in your body. These white blood cells protect your body against diseases. This might be due to the increased metabolic rate.
One study even indicated that cold showers could make the body more resistant to certain types of cancer
So, as science shows, there are multiple health benefits related to taking cold showers. Now it is your turn to give it a try. Good luck!