Estimated Read Time: 5.5 minutes
Summary: In this blog we detail and explore the benefits of a cold shower. We’ll discuss what a cold shower can do for you, how it can boost the appearance of your hair and skin and whether it can dramatically improve your mood! Read on to discover more about cold water exposure, and how to start incorporating cold showers and ice baths into your life…
Let’s be honest – if you had to choose between a cold and a hot shower, you’d probably opt for a trusty, warm, soothing soak right? Well, what if we told you that the opposite could benefit you in a number of wonderful ways?
That’s not to say the hot shower is redundant! Hot showers can help our muscles relax, support our blemishes in healing, open our airways and provide relief from respiratory illnesses like colds, coughs and flu. However, they can dry out our skin and scalp, increase our blood pressure and exacerbate skin conditions like eczema, making the symptoms worse. They can also make you more sleepy - not ideal for a morning rinse on a busy day!
So, if you’re curious what good could come from turning down the temperature and want to learn more about cold water showers, look no further. Let’s learn what the benefits are to a cold shower…
An increase and improvement in blood circulation is one of the most popular reasons given for promoting cold showering. As you’re plunged into cold water, this causes the blood to constrict in flow nearer the surface of the skin which in turn makes your deeper tissues circulate it at a faster rate to regain your ideal body temperature.
Studies have shown that being cold can increase your metabolic rate, by up to 350%, dependent on how cold the water is!
Cold water and ice baths have been a go to for athletes post-training and performance over the past few years too. That’s because low temperatures have a restorative effect on muscles and the body. It lowers the swelling of muscles and tissue, constricts the blood vessels and helps flush through toxins out via the body’s waste. So, it may be worth considering dropping the heat after your next intense work out!
Cold shower benefits include a potential boost to your immune system’s functioning! Researchers believe that because of a heightened metabolic rate (as detailed above), an increase of white blood cells takes place, as a higher metabolism can stimulate the immune system’s response too. White blood cells fight off infections and disease, so a higher count can be a positive thing.
This study found that cold showers reduce your likelihood of calling in sick to work by 29%!
But, a study in Germany concluded that consistent and regular exposure is essential for this benefit to really be seen.
Unlike hot water, cold water doesn’t dry out the sebum (oil) producing layer of skin – sebum is essential for keeping the skin moisturised. This benefits both the skin and hair as both rely on sebum to stay looking healthy.
Cold water is also thought to help close the hair’s cuticle (outer, protective layer) and strengthen them meaning cold water is better for maintaining the health and resilience of hair strands.
Cold water can also constrict blood flow and tighten pores, helping give skin a more desirable, healthy glow!
When your body comes into contact with cold water, this puts a small amount of stress on it. This then leads to a process called hardening which enables the nervous system to keep calmer and more in control when in stressful situations. Regular cold showering enhances the hardening process and thus the body’s continuous ability to cope during periods of anxiety and depression. It takes a strong mind to stand in cold water!
It’s also been proven that when the entire body is exposed to cold water, it releases the anti-stress hormone norepinephrine along with adrenaline, which can leave you feeling invigorated.
One piece of research found that daily cold showers lasting between 2-3 minutes can relieve the symptoms of depression! Some people argue that cold water is more effective than anti-depressant drugs too (although this hasn’t been conclusively proven!)
Cold showers also help wake the body up and induce alertness and focus by causing the body to inhale more oxygen via deeper breaths.
Everything can have a pro and con list written about it, and in the case of cold showers, they’re definitely not appropriate if you’re sick. If your immune system is already low, it might not be best to shock it whilst it’s vulnerable.
Also, it’s not wise to have a cold shower if you’re already pretty cold as this will leave the body staying colder for longer and being cold for extensive periods can then be counter effective to the benefits a cold shower can bring.
However tempting diving into a cold shower right now is, it may take some getting used to! A great way to start cold water showers is by starting off in a warm one…
Seeing as the benefits of cold water showers include alertness and higher mood, you’d probably want to capitalise on these in your hours spent awake, so morning is probably the best time for a cold water plunge.
It may also be easier to get into the habit if you start practising cold water exposure first thing in the morning, as it’s always harder to find motivation to do something uncomfortable as the day goes on!
But, any time of day can work. If you work out a lot, a cold water shower immediately after can really help your recovery and if you struggle with sleeping, a cold shower can help relieve the mind of stress and worry before bed time.
Cold water is clearly worth a try!