Have you ever tried incorporating cold showers into your daily routine at some point? While the sensation of cold water against your skin may not be the most pleasant, cold showers may have potential health benefits that may be able to change your mind.
Plus, you’ll be among the likes of the infamous fictional spy James Bond, who is known to have an affinity for cold showers.
Here are some of the potential health benefits of cold showers, which we’ll be discussing in detail in this article:
- Reduced stress levels
- Increased level of alertness
- Increased energy
- Improved metabolism
- May raise fertility
- Better hair and skin
- Help with muscle recovery
- May help relieve depression
The Potential Health Benefits of Cold Showers
Cold showers have numerous potential health benefits. Here are some of the science-based benefits of cold showers:
May Help Reduce Stress Levels
Feeling stressed? Do you constantly feel anxious or flustered? Taking a cold shower regularly may help reduce your stress levels. A study shows that cold water temperatures are considered by the body as a form of oxidative stress.
Repeated exposure to such conditions may result in the body’s improved antioxidative adaptation. This, in turn, can lead to an increased tolerance to environmental stress.
According to another study, exposure to cold temperatures may also aid in the process of body hardening, which is the body’s exposure to natural stimuli. This hardening can pave the way for the body’s increased tolerance to different forms of stress.
May Increase Alertness
Need another good reason to try out cold showers? Try it if you want to be more alert.
Let’s face it. A lot of us aren’t morning people. It’s difficult to get up and leave the bed in the morning. But a cold shower may just do the trick. When your body feels the cold water, it responds by increasing your oxygen intake, heart rate, and alertness.
May Help Improve Immunity
Want to have fewer sick days? A research suggests that cold showers may help with having fewer sick days. There were fewer instances (29% reduction) of self-reported sick leaves during the study’s 30-day period.
Cold showers helped make the symptoms of illness feel less severe, which in turn allowed the subjects to continue doing their daily activities. Do note that the study doesn’t have an impact on illness days.
May Help Improve Metabolism
Cold temperatures are known to activate your body’s store of good fat, specifically brown fat. According to a Harvard Business Review article, brown fat, when activated, may aid in increasing your energy and metabolism.
Another potential benefit of this process is that it can help control your blood sugar levels. This is good news as thermoregulation caused by the activation of brown fat may help reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes in individuals.
May Help Improve Fertility
Testosterone is a sex hormone that plays many crucial roles in the body. According to the National Institutes of Health, testosterone is thought to help with the regulation of libido. It also plays a role in regulating bone mass, as well as in the production of sperm and red blood cells.
Cold showers may help with sperm and testosterone production. A study suggests that cold temperatures may help increase sperm motility. Another study suggests that warm temperatures may affect human spermatogenesis, which may, in turn, affect testosterone production.
A pilot study also supports the suggestion that warm temperatures may affect male fertility. It is known that dry heat exposure affects sperm production in both humans and animals. However, the pilot study published in the International Braz J Urol documents that wet heat in the form of hot tubs, hot baths, and Jacuzzis may negatively impact sperm production and motility.
May Help with Better Hair and Skin Health
Cold showers may lead to clearer skin and healthier hair. A Today Show article highlights how cold showers may help relieve itchy skin as it curbs your need to scratch. Additionally, the cold water forces your blood flow to tighten and constrict, which may give your skin and hair the appearance of a healthier glow.
May Help with Quicker Muscle Recovery
Cold water immersion therapy has long been used by many athletes as a part of their post-exercise treatment. It’s believed that immersing the body in an ice bath at 12–15 degrees Celsius may help reduce muscle pain and soreness. The cold temperature can have a positive effect on the body as it can help relieve heat exertion and may even reduce inflammation.
If you’re training or if you simply want a quicker way to relieve muscle soreness after a strenuous activity, taking a cold shower may be the next best thing to immersing yourself in cold water. In a study published in the Journal of Athletic Training, 17 volunteers participated to aid in investigating the effects of a cold shower in reducing exercise-induced hyperthermia.
It was found that while cold showers were not as effective as cold water immersion therapy, cold showers were still found to have an effect in relieving exertional hyperthermia.
May Potentially Help Relieve Depression
A study published in Medical Hypotheses suggests that adapted cold showers may help relieve symptoms of depression. According to the study, cold showers taken at 20 degrees Celsius for 2–3 minutes performed once or twice daily may help send electrical impulses to the brain’s peripheral nerve endings. This, in turn, can have anti-depressive effects.
Additionally, cold showers may help decrease cortisol levels. It may also increase the levels of serotonin, the feel-good chemical which plays a role in regulating body functions such as mood, libido, and digestion.
How to Start Incorporating Cold Showers into Your Daily Routine
Adjusting to cold showers may be quite challenging for some. If you want to jumpstart this new habit and get the most out of it, it’s a good idea to begin by increments.
You would want to gradually decrease your water temperature until your body can adjust to the lower shower temperatures.
Also, don’t just step in the shower and turn the dial to the lowest temperature setting. You’d want to begin by splashing cold water on some areas of your body like your face, hands, and feet to help you slowly get used to the cold temperature.
As with most endeavors, consistency is key. It may take some time before you start noticing the difference, but doing it consistently can help your body respond to this new sensation.
Starting off with cold showers immediately when you’re not used to them may shock your system. If you have an existing medical condition, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or if you’re constantly feeling feverish, you may want to steer clear of cold showers. Additionally, cold showers shouldn’t replace your existing medication if you have depression or any mental health condition.
While cold showers may have numerous potential health benefits such as increased willpower, improved immune system response, and increased alertness, you aren’t going to experience them immediately. Your entire system will need time to adjust, so don’t be afraid to take it slow and learn to listen to your body.