I will admit, it was difficult in the beginning… those cozy hugs of warm water suddenly turns to knife stabs as the cold water runs down your neck and back, but once you get over the psychological terror and actually start to accept it and even look forward to it, you’ll start to notice the great benefits of the cold water.
Cold water have been scientifically proven to do wonders for your well being and overall health. Something as simple as turning the temperature gage or submerging yourself in an ice water bath has an tremendous impact on your life.
Depending on what kind of person you are, you might want to try some different approaches to your transition into this new territory. If you’re anything like me, a 0 or 100% person, then you can just jump straight into it head first.. from warm to the coldest without any fuss or resistance.
I´ve been doing this without exception for about two years now and I actually look forward doing it, every time I shower I start off with warm water while soaping in and finish off with 1-3 minutes of the coldest water possible.
The key here is to not think about it, be persistent and learn to enjoy it! It doesn’t have to be a shower, it can be a bathtub with cold water and ice cubes or if you have the luxury of the open sea at your disposal.
Below is a few of the amazing benefits this therapy brings:
1. Improves immunity and circulation
Cold water improves circulation by encouraging blood to surround our organs, which can then help combat some problems of the skin and heart. As cold water hits the body, it’s ability to get blood circulating leads the arteries to more efficiently pump blood, therefore boosting our overall heart health. It can also lower blood pressure, clear blocked arteries, and improve our immune system. You will also be much more tolerant for exposure to cold weather, I haven’t had a cold in over a year!
2. Speeds up muscle soreness and recovery
We have all seen athletes taking ice baths after training to reduce muscle soreness, but a quick cold shower after breaking a sweat at the gym can be just as effective, especially in relieving delayed-onset muscle soreness. A 2009 study analyzing 17 trials involved over 360 people who either rested or immersed themselves in cold water after resistance training, cycling, or running. It found that 24-minute cold water baths were effective in relieving sore muscles one to four days after exercises with a water temperature of 50 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit, or 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. However, some studies involved colder temperatures.
3. Builds strong will power
Cold showers build massive will power! The amount of will power it takes to take cold showers may seem like that of a Shaolin Monk, because for the common man it is a pretty big jump. Doing something you are so resistant to, every single day, right when you wake up, takes a lot of mental strength. And overtime, this mental strength and discipline will become an automated habit that echoes into every area of your life.
4. Improve emotional resilience
Do you get flustered, anxious or pissed off easily? Cold showers certainly help for this, it brings the same effects of a hard Yoga session, serenity! Cold showers train your nervous system to be more resilient to stress. Cold water act as a small form of oxidative stress on your nervous system. Overtime, the body adapts to this. A peachy creamy calm and cool individual. The first time you step in that cold shower, you won’t be able to think straight, let alone breath, so start off by focusing on breathing calm. After a month, you will not even be thinking about it and just keep your laser focus on whatever tasks of the day infront of you. This due to adaptation theory, to repeated oxidative stress, and is postulated as a mechanism for body hardening. Hardening is the exposure to a natural, e.g., thermal stimulus, resulting in an increased tolerance to stress.
5. Increases alertness
Taking a cold shower in the morning, and feeling cold water pour down over our body seems more horrifying than soothing. However, the deep breathing in response to our body’s shock helps us keep warm, as it’s increases our overall oxygen intake. Thus, our heart rate will also increase, releasing a rush of blood through our entire body. This gives us a natural dose of energy for the day.
6. Stimulates weight loss
Cold showers aids weight loss in an unexpected way. The human body contains two types of fat tissue, white fat and brown fat. White fat is accumulated when we consume more calories than our body needs to function, and we don’t burn these calories for energy. This body fat piles up at our waist, lower back, neck, and thighs, and is the one we all struggle to eliminate. Brown fat is the good fat, which generates heat to keep our bodies warm, and is activated when exposed to extreme cold. Thus, cold showers promotes brown fat activity. Studies have found that exposure to extreme cold temperatures activated brown fat in 23 and 24 participants by a 15-fold increase, meaning someone could lose up to nine pounds in a year if they kept this practice up.
7. Eases stress
Jumping into the shower without letting it heat up, or going into the ocean without slowly acclimating to it, can help promote hardening, increasing tolerance to stress, and even disease. Studies have found a drastic decrease in uric acid levels during and following exposure to a cold stimulus. There was also an increase in gluthathione, an antioxidant that keeps all other antioxidants performing at their optimal levels. The participants, who were 10 healthy people who swam regularly in ice-cold water during the winter, adapted to repeated oxidative stress.
8. Relieves depression
Cold showers have been shown to relieve depression symptoms due to the intense impact of cold receptors in the skin, which send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from the peripheral nerve endings to the brain. Thus, it produces an anti depressive effect, and boosts moods, making it a pick-me-up. Research have found that cold hydrotherapy has an analgesic effect, and does not appear to have noticeable side effects or cause dependence. This treatment included one to two cold showers of 38 degrees Fahrenheit, two to three minutes long, followed by a five-minute gradual adaptation to make the procedure less shocking.
9. Refines hair and skin
When it comes to hair and skin, one of the most natural ways to maintain your appearance is with cold showers. Hot water has the tendency to dry out our skin, so it’s best to use cold water to tighten your cuticles and pores, which will prevent them from getting clogged. Cold water can “seal” the pores in the skin and scalp too, preventing dirt from getting in. Dermatologists all over the world advises that ice-cold or lukewarm water can help our skin and prevent it from being stripped of its healthy natural oils too quickly. Remember, cold water only temporarily tightens skin as it constricts blood flow, but it does not shrink pores. When it comes to haircare, cold showers can make hair appear shinier, stronger, and healthier by flattening hair follicles, and increasing their ability to grip the scalp.
10. Drains the lymphatic system
An additional, yet crucial, part of the body that is affected by cold showers is the lymphatic system. What the lymphatic system does is help carry out waste from your cells. This is key in defending your body from unwanted infections. And when the lymphatic system is blocked, it will show up in symptoms such as frequent colds, infections and joint pain. Cold showers, when alternated between hot and cold water will help your lymphatic system, by contracting the lymph vessels when exposed to the cold and relaxing them when exposed to the heat. This essentially pumps the fluid that may have stagnated in your lymph vessels out, resulting in a stronger immune system and healthier you.
11. Wake you up & puts you to sleep
Obviously, an ice cold shower is going to get you up in the morning. We already talked about how they will scientifically increase your alertness, but science aside – if you have trouble getting up and pumped for the day, cold showers will change this.
Ironically, while cold showers wake you up in the morning, cold therapy is one of the best ways to get an incredible nights sleep having a relaxing effect as you get out of the cold.
12. Energized breathing
Step into a cold shower and the first thing you are going to do is take a big deep breath. After that you will start panting and moving, your breathing will become deep and erratic. You get a massive boost of energy from that increased breathing that cold shower forces you to do. The boost of energy can be a good alternative for a morning coffee that will kick your physiology into another gear. Learn to breathe calm and put all your attention to your breathing, by doing this you will naturally become more attentive to your breath throughout the day. Most people just take their breathing for granted and don’t think about it but it actually has more effect on you, your mood and overall well being than you think.
Heres a tip, set up a time goal, like 30 seconds, put it on a timer and just put yourself through it. When you hit your target, increase it for the next time and after a while you will ditch the timer and just stand there for the pleasure and knowledge of all the benefits gained from this great tool…
… remember the Nike slogan?