How can something that seems to be a punishment be beneficial? Cold showers are not immediately associated with good events. Some of you might have been surprised by the sudden shock of cold water because your house mate or family member just washed their hands while you were in the middle of your shower ritual.
Or you might have come across the Guinness book world record holder Wim Hof aka the Ice Man and look at mastering the cold as something only for daring individuals. No, it’s not! Shower with cold water can be amazingly beneficial for everyone!
Have a look at these 6 benefits that we highlighted for you!
1. Learning to live with discomfort
Changing nice warm water to a chilling cold temperature does initially not feel comfortable for our bodies. Learning to accept the discomfort that is felt when the water is cold, is not just good for that moment. It helps you to live with uncomfortable situations and moments during the rest of the day and week, because you know that you can endure them and this makes you stronger for it.
If you handle 5 minutes of discomfort in the shower voluntarily, you will more easily be able to do something that is difficult or uncomfortable in real life.
2. Increases recovery rate after a work-out
Cold immersions or showers help to improve the recovery rate after a work-out. The cold water on the body constricts blood vessels and brings pain relief locally – like an icepack on a bruise. With the improved circulation more oxygen, white blood cells and helpful substances can reach tissues that need healing more easily.
Cryotherapy (i.e. cold therapy) is well-known in the professional sports world and as a medical therapy since the seventeenth century. An ice bath or jumping in a winter lake are to the extreme spectrum of cold therapy and can be potentially harmful with the risk of getting hypothermia, frostbite or cold shock response. There is not enough research yet to prove the benefits of cold water immersion, but there is some evidence that showed delay in the start of muscle soreness.
3. Improved blood circulation
During a cold shower your body is forced to adapt to the new temperature. Vasoconstriction is the process of the constriction/tightening of the arteries and veins. This changes the way blood flows since it will go where it is easier to go. As a result most of the blood flow is directed to your torso and your organs. After a session of cold water the blood flow is redirected back to the limbs. These changes in your cardiovascular system are great for your blood circulation.
Adaptation is a healthy process and the better your body is trained to adapt to new situations, the more resilient it becomes.
4. Improves the body’s ability to handle stress and disease
A good cold shower or a swim in a cold lake or pool can reduce your level of stress in your body. In a study performed on ten healthy persons that swam in ice-cold water, the participants were measured to have an improved adaptation to oxidative stress in the body.
Cold water exposure improves the ability of the body to handle physical stress and can consequently better ward of disease. Hydrotherapy with repetitive short-term cold water showers is therefore used in physical medicine.
5. Good for skin and hair
Hot water dries out skin and can strip it from its natural protecting oils. In contrast, cold water helps to close pores and hair cuticles, and helps the skin to retain its natural oils. Closed pores will not easily get clogged, this can aid in preventing acne. The hair cuticles are also closed which makes it harder for dirt to attach to your hair strands. Great for making your hair shiner too!
6. Makes you alert
A shot of energy in the morning usually comes in the form of coffee, but what about getting the boost in your morning shower? The sudden change in temperature will make your breathing deeper and the improved blood flow will invigorate your whole body. Ready to start the day energized!
Only hitting your legs with cold water can be a good beginning to get used to the sensation of cold water.
Then you can start out ending the shower with a cold session or doing intervals of hot and cold periods of a few minutes each.
You can then move up to 5 minutes or completely showering cold.
Enjoy the cold embrace during your next shower and feel the benefits instantly!
Don’t feel like having a full body cold shower? Try this to start off instead:
You could simply put your face under streaming cold water or put it in a bucket of cold water. You will experience a reflex that is triggered when cold water contacts your face called the Mammalian Diving Reflex!
Then you can notice these changes happen in our body in the following 3 stages:
- Heart rate slows down, this lessens the transportation of oxygen in the bloodstream to the limbs and more oxygen is used for the organs.
- Capillary (i.e. smallest blood vessels) blood supply is stopped, leaving less blood circulation to the fingers, toes and then the limbs.
- Your blood starts shifting to your brain, heart and lungs.
Share your experiences with us below in the comments or below the facebook/twitter post!