Summer Even thinking on (ice) cold showers gives us the feeling of discomfort and unwillingness to try it… But, is there a real benefit to it? People who are practicing it (and in many ways medical science as well) are very vocal when it comes to promoting this habit. So, what’s behind it? Is it worth the discomfort? Let’s see what are some of the benefits of cold showers…
The Human body can adapt to (almost) anything
Let’s start from there. Adaptability of our bodies is in many cases incredible, almost unbelievable. Our mind is “wired” in such way that it can give us super-human power in life threatening situations, it can make us feel no pain or fatigue, it can learn to ignore discomfort… We’ve all experienced this many times in our lives. In most cases we take it for granted and ignore the fact that adapted to something we first thought is impossible. Do you remember when you tried coffee for the first time, did you liked it (it probably had bitter or sour taste and you thought that you’ll never drink coffee)? And how about even more simple case of going into a swimming pool on a hot day…first few seconds or minutes water is just too cold, but then it slowly becomes just cooling and within minutes it is just perfect. And now, when you think about this, you might get to understand how and why is cold showering just a normal routine to some people.
Is cold shower good for you?
There is no discussion on this. Cold showers (for most, healthy people) is beneficial to our body. It only comes to is the benefit higher than the discomfort it creates? And with that question, we should go back to the previous paragraph and understand that the discomfort is not as high as it initially seems, you will adapt and get used to it up to some level. But, you might think that cold is a subjective feeling, so what’s “ice cold” for you, might not be for your friend… By some definition, cold showers are any showers with a water temperature below 70°F.
What are the direct benefits of cold showers? Benefits of taking a cold shower include:
- Waking up the whole system in the morning – regardless of how adapted you are to cold showers, your body will always have a reaction to cold water and this reaction is like a bit of shock for it. This shock will help increase oxygen take, heart rate, and general alertness.
- Increasing circulation – this is s one of the main reasons experts recommend cold showers. Physiological reaction of your body to cold shower is vasoconstriction, which further causes blood in your deeper tissues to circulate at faster rates to maintain ideal body temperature:
- Calming itchy skin – for whatever the cause of your itching skin is (dermatitis, eczema, allergies, or internal causes…) if your doctor says it is OK to take a shower, you might want to try cold shower as it will positively affect the sensation of itching;
- Post-workout, reducing muscle soreness – after the initial shock, cold shower/bath will actually help reduce your heart rate and relax muscles. Many sport science studies back up this activity with numerous studies;
- Helping with weight loss programs - when your body is exposed to a cold shower, it will try to keep your body warm by producing heat itself. One way it does that is by burning fat (which can generate heat in the process);
- Improving hair and skin looks and quality – increase circulation itself will help your skin and hair get more nutrients from your blood and it will give it healthier look. Also, unlike hot water, cold water doesn’t dry out the sebum layer (naturally lubricated barrier used to protect) from your hair and skin.
What to keep in mind…
If you plan to start with cold showers, it is best to ease in to the habit. Don’t start with the cold showers right away and torture yourself with it. Try gradually reducing the warmth of water that you are used to every day when you shower, try showering with just a little bit colder than usual. Also, try reducing the warmth of the water for a last few minutes of your showering. It will help if you have good quality shower head that will spread the water evenly.
The most important thing to do first is to consult with your physician or doctor before you start taking cold showers!