Cold Shower Health Benefits: One of many modern conveniences that we take for granted is the trusty water heater. We all love the comfort of a nice warm bath or the sterilizing power of a hot shower. But for millennia, humans had no control over the temperature of the water they washed in.
This means our bodies aren’t evolved to respond to hot showers. Just as the Paleo diet attempts to replicate the foodstuffs the human body is evolved to consume, the cold-water shower movement encourages us to embrace the way our ancestors bathed.
A cold shower can be revitalizing, stimulating, and healthy. Here are just a few of the cold shower health benefits.
For many of us, the morning is a struggle. We find ourselves beset by gloom as we arise from the stupor of sleep. A cold shower can shock us into consciousness and might actually improve our mood. A 2007 study found that regular cold showers are actually more effective than prescription antidepressants – but consult a doctor before going off of any prescribed medication.
2. Better Hair and Skin
Despite feeling great, hot water can be bad for your skin. It dries skin out and opens the pores, leaving them susceptible to clogging. A cold shower does the opposite, tightening your cuticles and pores in the skin and scalp and locking in natural oils. It also makes your hair appear shinier by flattening its follicles and helping it grip the scalp.
3. Quicker Recovery from Workouts
Muscle soreness after exercising is normal, but it can be an annoyance and prevent us from heading back into the gym to capitalize on our gains. A cold shower after the gym can relieve DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, so we can recover quicker and get back in fighting shape.
4. Stronger Immunity
A cold shower used to be prescribed for people with “weak constitutions,” and there may be some science behind this. A 1993 study found that people who take cold showers produced more white blood cells (which fight viruses) than their hot water counterparts.
5. Improved Circulation
Improved circulation is another cold shower health benefit. Cold water forces your blood to circulate to your organs, keeping them warm, while hot water sends it to the surface of your skin. Alternating between hot and cold water while you shower improves your circulation, something that’s essential for cardiovascular health and recovering from exercise.
6. Quicker Weight Loss
Ah! The old cold shower weight loss trick. Cold water activates brown fat, a.k.a the “good fat,” which generates heat to warm the body. This means you’ll lose weight quicker, up to nine pounds in a year if done consistently.
7. Increased Alertness
Cold water is a shock to your body, and the nervous system responds by breathing deeply to keep us warm, increasing our oxygen intake and heart rate. This sends blood through your entire body and can give you energy for the rest of your day.
8. Less Stress
Taking cold showers (or just starting your shower cold) can increase your tolerance for stress. A study found that cold water exposure decreased uric acid and increased glutathione, an important antioxidant, and that people who swam in cold water were able to adapt to repeated oxidative stress.