There’s nothing like a warm shower when we want to relax or even warm up on a cold winter day. The idea of subjecting ourselves to cold showers can actually seem crazy at times given how luxurious it has become to enjoy hot showers. But the truth is a cold shower can provide a lot of benefits that you may want to consider.
1. Improves Immunity & Circulation
Running cold water over your body at the end of a shower can improve circulation as blood is sent throughout your arteries to surround your organs. It can be viewed in the same way we run certain systems at high performance every so often to keep it maintained and well oiled. Increased blood flow can also help certain skin and heart issues as well as lower blood pressure, help clear blocked arteries and improve our immune system.
2. Improves Hair and Skin Condition
Hot water can dry out your skin and hair. Of course, it doesn’t help that there are high levels of chlorine coming out of our showers which has a drying-out effect on skin and hair as well. If you can run your shower colder or finish cold at the end, it’s a natural way to keep your skin and hair from drying out as cold water tightens cuticles and pores. This helps to prevent natural oils on the scalp and skin to be stripped away so easily. By keeping a proper oil balance you will have soft, shiny natural looking hair. This also helps to keep the skin and scalp cleaner as well.
3. Increase Alertness
Have you ever woken up early in the morning and felt tired hopping in the shower and as you feel the warm water running over your body you want to jump right back into bed? This is where cold showers can come in handy. As cold water hits your neck it causes you to do that almost slightly shocked deep breath. This increases oxygen intake and also gets the heart rate up which pumps blood through the body faster giving the body a nice natural surge of energy.
4. Eases Stress & Depression
Cold showers have also been shown to help decrease stress levels. One study found that exposure to cold helped decrease uric acid levels and increase glutathione, an antioxidant considered to be one of the most important for a healthy body. The participants swam regularly in ice-cold water during the winter months and it was found that they adapted to repeated oxidative stress.
Another study found that cold hydrotherapy (i.e. cold showers) helped to improve moods and had an anti-depressive effect with no bad side effects or creation of dependency. Subjects were tested with one to two cold showers at 38 degrees Fahrenheit that were two to three minutes long. These were followed by a five-minute gradual adaptation to make the procedure less shocking.
5. Speeds Up Muscle Soreness and Recovery
A study conducted in 2009 found that people who rested or immersed themselves in cold water after their exercise saw a decrease in onset muscle soreness caused by resistance training, cycling or running. It was found that a 24 minute bath in water with temperatures around 10 – 15 degrees celsius (50F – 59F) was most effective. Taking a cold shower after your workouts would still have a positive effect on muscle soreness as well. The longer you go the greater the benefit. Research also believe that alternating hot and cold at the end of a shower after a workout may help reduce pain and speed recovery by decreasing blood lactate concentration.