We’ve all heard the expression “take a cold shower!” but did you know that cold hydrotherapy may actually be good for you? Beyond cooling off when you’re hot and bothered, there are numerous health benefits of cold showers from turning that faucet marked with the letter “c” up a bit higher. Furthermore, the idea of a cold shower improving health is not new—using cold water is an old school way to treat depression, stimulate your metabolic rate and improve the immune system. Let’s explore seven of the most exciting benefits of cold showers.
7 benefits of cold showers
1. Instant mood boost
We’ve all been stuck with feelings of heartache, sadness, and despair. While yoga and meditation certainly work wonders, sometimes a nice cold blast of water is just what we need to bring ourselves back into the present moment. Everyone gets caught up in sad thoughts sometimes, but a quick remedy lies just down the hall in your shower. There’s evidence that exposure to cold water activates the sympathetic nervous system and stimulates particular nerve endings that go to the brain and could naturally relieve depression. I recently added a brief cold blast at the end of my showers and noticed an immediate feeling of elation each time. Why not see if you respond the same way?
2. Improved circulation
Increasing circulation helps the body rid itself of toxins. Coldwater makes our veins and arteries constrict (vasoconstriction), which increases circulation by forcing blood to flow with increased pressure. When your blood flows more quickly, it also warms your organs. Healthy circulation prevents varicose veins, hypertension, and hardened arteries. Sign me up for a cold shower—I’d rather be uncomfortable for a few minutes a day than burdened with these ailments for life.
3. Potential weight loss
Recent studies have found that cold water may stimulate the growth of something called brown fat, which is known as the “good” fat because it keeps our bodies warm and burns energy. Brown fat stored in the body increases “bad” fat-burning when exposed to cold temperatures. It appears that people with plenty of brown fat have lower blood sugar levels and are less prone to obesity. Some findings suggest that repeating a short, cold shower three times daily can make a noticeable impact on weight loss. You can read more about brown fat and cold temperatures here: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/278646.php.
4. Increased resistance to disease
According to the Thrombosis Research Institute in London, daily benefits of cold showers have been proven to increase white blood cells, which fight invading viruses and bacteria. When our bodies try to warm up after a cold blast, our metabolic rate increases and wakes up the immune system, releasing more white blood cells. White blood cells are sometimes referred to as our immunity cells—they’re constantly hard at work in the bloodstream, battling nasty pathogens that threaten your health.
5. Skin improvements
While I was in training for my skincare license, I learned that constant exposure to hot water causes the skin to become dry, itchy and red. Your skin’s natural oils are constantly being stripped away when hot soapy water attacks. Lower water temperatures are gentler on the skin, leaving your natural oils to do their work. Coldwater also tightens the pores, reducing their appearance so that you need not go out and buy toxic “pore reducing” products. It’s also better for your hair, particularly if you color it; cold water won’t strip away color the way hot water does. This benefit makes me think of the expression “cooler heads prevail”—your hair will always look shinier and healthy after a nice cold blast.
6. Increased male fertility
Want to have a baby? Cold showers may be helpful when trying to conceive, as the cooler the testes, the higher the sperm count. Research indicates that the benefits of cold showers also help improve sperm’s motility (i.e. make sperm swim faster). Experiments in the 1950s showed that men who took 30-minute hot baths every other day for three weeks were infertile for six months. More recent studies have shown that limiting men’s exposure to hot water allowed their sperm counts to increase by 491%.
7. Live long and prosper
A CNN report shared that a 100-year-old man in New York is a firm believer in the connection between cold water and longevity. He adds a cold blast of water at the end of his daily hot shower and counts to 100 before shutting it off. Exposure to cold water toughens you up a bit and helps you cope better with discomfort, which is certainly a part of life. I also knew a woman in her late nineties who swore by a cold shower once a week. She was more active and vibrant than people half her age. Centurions have “been there and done that”—anyone who has lived that long can’t be all that wrong.
The benefits of cold showers are a matter of personal preference and may not be advisable for those with high blood pressure. That being said, gradually lowering your shower’s temperature over the next few days may yield health benefits of cold showers that will follow you into your hundreds. Give it a try!