Contrary to our first instinct of getting sick due to cold water, there are many benefits of cold showers.
Usually, a cold shower is an unexpected shock that we’re quick to jump away from. However, recent studies have shown that a daily dousing in water that’s between 50℉ and 70℉ can start showing health benefits within a week.
Those health benefits aren’t anything to sneeze at, either.
Cold showers have been linked to easing depression symptoms, helping with things like weight loss and sports recovery, and improving your willpower.
Let’s take a look at the 10 major benefits of cold showers!
Here Are the Main Benefits of Cold Showers
There’s a lot of research being done on the benefits of cold showers. The main health benefits that have been found are:
1. Fast Wake Up
When you stand under cold water, your body gets a shock - but a good shock from the cold temperatures.
You start breathing faster and your heart beats quicker. This floods your body and brain with oxygen and pushes it around your bloodstream faster – clearing out any residual sleepiness in the process.
2. Relieve Localized Pain
You can use a cold shower as a localized painkiller.
Basically, what happens is the cold water on the area where the pain is will slow down how fast the nerves relay pain messages back to the brain.
Some surgeons will use a cold spray before they give a patient the local anesthetic injection to keep the patient’s pain levels as low as possible.
3. Reduce Inflammation and Prevent Muscle Soreness
If you take a cold shower after a workout – especially on a day you’ve really pushed yourself - it can significantly reduce your delayed onset muscle soreness the next day.
The buildup of lactic acid is what makes you stiff and crampy the day after a hard workout, giving you those sore muscles we've all experienced.
Your blood vessels constrict when they’re cold. If you take a cold shower after a workout, that makes it harder for lactic acid carried in your blood to settle in your muscles.
4. Can Calm Itchy Skin
The anti-inflammatory properties of a cold shower aren’t just for after a workout.
If you suffer from eczema or dermatitis, a cold shower can draw the itch out of your skin and give you a bit of relief.
5. Improve Blood Circulation
Whenever you take a cold shower, it helps to boost blood circulation in your body. It’s why having a cold shower wakes you up so quickly.
As your body gets colder, it has to work harder to maintain its core temperature, so it pushes the oxygenated blood around your body faster.
6. Help With Weight Loss
When you get cold, the brown fat in your body burns energy to try to keep your core temperature stable.
This energy is stored in your body as white fat – the kind of fat you normally find on your belly or thighs.
Adding a daily cold shower to your weight management program can help you reach your weight loss goals quicker.
7. Improved Immunity
Studies have shown that people that swimming in the winter can lead to higher white blood cell counts. White blood cells are what your body uses to fight infection and sickness.
If you take a cold shower daily, you’ll be replicating the conditions that people who swim in winter do all year round.
8. Can Help With Depression Symptoms
Repeated full-body exposure to cold water over time makes your body release more beta-endorphins and noradrenalin into your bloodstream helping improve mental health.
The cold water triggers electrical impulses on your sympathetic nervous system, which prepares your body for action and makes you more alert.
This leads to antidepressant effects that help to combat the heavy, tired feeling that comes with depression.
9. Improved Hair and Skin Health
Not only does hot water open your pores and hair follicles, but it strips away your natural oils too.
If you have dry skin, having cold showers will tighten your pores and help keep your skin and hair’s oils where you want them.
In fact, the cold can even help with clearer skin and decrease skin puffiness.
10. Increased Willpower
If you can go from a warm, cozy bed and stand under 50℉ water before you’ve woken up properly, you can do absolutely anything you set your mind to.
Many people have made cold exposure a part of their daily routine. Increasing energy levels and willpower is one of the best cold shower benefits.
Go get it!
How to Start a Cold Shower Routine
Working up to the full recommended 3-minute cold shower duration might take a little time.
It’s definitely worth easing into it, as trying a full 3 minutes in icy water will be difficult if you haven't had any cold shower experiences before.
You’ll want to work your way down from your normal, hot shower temperature to tepid, warm water in the first week of starting your cold shower ritual.
At the beginning of the second week, drop the temperature to chilly, and then cold in the last half of the last week.
Remember, this is a shock for your body. You need to ease into how long you stay in the cold water, as well as how cold you have it.
Start with 30 seconds, then move up to a minute by the end of the first week. Aim for 3 minutes by the end of the second week.
When it comes to how to position yourself in the shower, you can stand right under the shower head or have the water hit specific parts of your body.
As you're under the water, take deep breaths to calm your mind. It can help to adjust and accept the cold water.
Things to Consider Before Taking a Cold Shower
Cold showers aren’t for everybody. The cold water will increase your blood pressure and heart rate.
If you have congestive heart problems or a weak immune system, having cold showers can be risky.
Sudden stresses to your body that trigger the sympathetic nervous system can cause heart attacks and leave you susceptible to illnesses.
Talk to your doctor if you’re thinking about starting a cold shower regime and have questions.
Hot vs Cold Showers
We’ve just been talking about cold showers, but hot showers can do more than just help you unwind after a long day. Hot baths and showers can help ease a number of medication conditions.
Benefits of Hot Showers
1. Ease Tension In Your Muscles
Hot water helps increase the blood flow in your muscles, which loosens tight muslces. This helps with problems like tension headaches, stiffness, and milder cases of TMJ.
If PMS and period pain is a regular thing in your life, hot and warm showers can help ease cramps. It can also loosen up the muscles that are causing shoulder and lower back aches as well.
2. Reduce Joint Pain
If you have arthritis, fibromyalgia, or other joint problems, a hot shower can be a great thing to add to your pain management program.
When your body heats up, the blood vessels expand, which allows nutrients to flow through your joints more easily.
3. Helps Clear Out Sinuses And Congestion
If you’ve got a cold or flu, a hot shower can help open up your airways and loosen phlegm in your chest.
The steam thins the mucus and makes it easier for you to either cough it up or blow it out through your nose.
Should You Alternate Hot and Cold Showers?
People do take contrasting showers, where they alternate between hot and cold blasts while they shower.
However, there’s no conclusive scientific research that contrasting showers have benefits you wouldn’t get from either a cold or hot shower alone.
If your immune system or your heart isn’t at its best, you may want to avoid going from hot water to cold water exposure in one shower.
Going from one extreme temperature to the other and back again in quick succession will increase your body's stress levels, potentially overwhelming your system and increasing the likelihood of any medical conditions.
Are There Benefits in Taking Both Hot and Cold Showers?
As with all things, it depends on what you’re using them for. Knowing what you need from your shower will help you choose the temperature.
If you want some relief from your eczema, a hot shower will dry your skin and make it itch more. In this situation, a cold shower may be in order.
If you’re stiff from sitting at a desk all day, a cold shower will make you tense up – so you’ll want a hot shower instead.
If there’s nothing keeping you from taking both hot and cold showers, why not try both and see which works better for you?