Coined as a “Scottish Shower,” or often referred to as the “James Bond Shower,” turning the temperature down to freezing cold at the end can provide surprising benefits for our body and mind.
But, cold therapy has been around for centuries. For example, the Spartans believed that warm water was for the weak, while cold water, on the other hand, strengthened their bodies and made them ready for battle. Also, the father of medicine, Hippocrates, used cold water in treating serious illnesses.
According to Dutch athlete Wim Hof:
“Both cold exposure and conscious breathing require patience and dedication … Armed with focus and determination you are ready to explore and eventually master your own body and mind.”
Note – cold showers are not the main source of treatment for any condition, however, they may offer symptom relief and general well-being.
When cold water pours over your body, your heart rate will increase, resulting in a rush of blood through your body which will help you get energized for the day. Also, your breathing deepens in response to the shock of the cold (this is actually your body trying to keep you warm by increasing overall oxygen intake).
#2 Increased Testosterone Levels
Testosterone is an essential male hormone which is responsible for the development and maintenance of male attributes. There is a strong link between having cold baths and having high testosterone levels, according to a 1993 study that was conducted by the Thrombosis Research Institute in England.
#3 They Boost Your Circulation
Increased circulation is one of the top reasons why healthcare professionals recommend cold showers. As cold water hits the body and external limbs, it causes the blood to circulate at notably faster rates to maintain ideal body temperature.
In that sense, a cold shower has the opposite effect of a hot shower for someone with cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure, since exposure to cold temperatures triggers the circulatory system to significantly reduce inflammation. Also, it can help prevent cardiovascular disease.
#4 They Drain The Lymphatic System
Cold showers help boost the activity of the lymphatic system (made up of hundreds of lymph vessels, lymph nodes, and lymphatic capillaries), that works to transport out waste from cells. This then reduces the risk of infections.
#5 Increased Willpower
It takes a strong mind to endure the cold for extended periods of time. However, by incorporating cold showers into your regular routine, you are strengthening your willpower, that benefits many different aspects of your life.
#6 Temperature Regulation
Regular cold showers help to decrease your core body temperature, reduce heat loss, and regulate your overall body temperature.
#7 They Relieve Depression
Depression is classified as a mood disorder. It may be described as feelings of loss, sadness, or anger which interfere with a person’s everyday activities.
Short cold showers may stimulate the brain’s primary source of noradrenaline — a chemical which could help mitigate depression, according to a study done at the Department of Radiation Oncology at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.
Another 2014 study which was issued in the journal Medical Hypotheses concluded that up to three minutes of exposure to 20 degree Celsius water over a few months would “send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which could result in an anti-depressive effect.”
#8 Improved Hair And Skin Appearance
Regular cold showers may help your hair appear strong, shiny, and healthy by keeping the follicles flat and increasing their grip to the scalp.
According to experts, ice cold water can also help your skin by preventing it from losing too many natural oils.
#9 Improved Immunity
Cold showers trigger an increase in the metabolic speed rate and the number of white blood cells (the cells of the immune system which are involved in protecting the body against both foreign invaders and infectious disease) in the body, which then help fight diseases, according to a 2017 study done in England.
#10 Weight Loss
Adding a cold shower to your regular routine can burn up to 500 calories per day, according to a study done by the New England Journal of Medicine. The scientists said:
“Cold bathing or any cold stress increases brown fat activity to generate heat and the calories consumed to maintain body temperature may result in weight loss.”
#11 They Expand Your Comfort Zone
If you can go way outside of your comfort zone by taking daily cold showers, the little things outside of your comfort zone start to look easy. In time, these little things can lead to big things which can eventually change your life.
You should take cold showers once or twice a day. Start by slowly lowering the temperature at the end of a usual shower, until it’s about 20°C (70°F). Then, stay underneath the water for 2 or 3 minutes. Feel free to turn the temperature down even more if you want.
Are There Any Negative Effects Of Taking Cold Showers?
Though cold showers are excellent for your body and can benefit your emotional and mental wellbeing, there are some risks associated with this practice. Here are some of the health conditions which can result from improper or excessive exposure to cold temperatures.
Hypothermia is a medical emergency which occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature.
Signs and symptoms of mild hypothermia include:
- increased heart rate and breathing;
- sluggish responses or lethargic;
- numbness in the extremities;
- pale and cool to touch as blood vessels constrict in the skin.
This condition is really not a threat unless you spend a considerable amount of time in the shower. The lower the temperature, the higher the risk of developing this condition.
A heart attack is a serious medical emergency in which the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked.
People with existing heart problems need to take extra caution if they plan on starting daily cold showers because cold temperatures can cause the heart to produce irregular heartbeats. This irregularity in heart rhythm can lead to a heart attack. But, individuals who do not have existing heart problems can safely ‘enjoy’ cold showers when done responsibly.
You can reduce your risk of developing heart problems by removing or reducing the following risk factors:
- being socially isolated;
- unhealthy eating;
- having depression;
- having diabetes;
- being obese;
- having high blood pressure;
- having high LDL cholesterol;
- smoking tobacco – either being a smoker or passive smoking;
- being sedentary.