If you’re like most people, nothing is as shocking as stepping into the shower for a nice hot bath only to realize that the water is ice cold. But, contrary to what most people believe, cold shower therapy is one of the healthiest modes for your body to regulate your internal temperature and it actually strengthens your immune system.
Many cultures incorporated cold water for health and spiritual cleansing. The popularity of cold showers as a therapy began to decline in the 20th century as many in the medical field moved to drugs to treat illnesses. As doctors concentrated on conventional medicine, more holistic methods began to be seen as quackery. While hydrotherapy was prescribed less and less to cure illnesses, doctors continued to use it to treat injuries such as strained muscles and broken bones. You’ll find athletes today taking ice baths to speed their recovery from injuries and intense workouts.
Benefits of Cold Showers
1. Improves circulation. Good blood circulation is vital for overall cardiovascular health. When you take a cold shower, or just let the cold water hit your body for a few minutes before exiting the shower, you are improving your blood circulation. Alternating between hot and cold water while you shower is an easy way to improve your circulation. Cold water causes your blood to move to your organs to keep them warm. Warm water reverses the effect by causing the blood to move towards the surface of the skin. This will help your skin appear healthier, and make you feel more energized.
2. Eliminate Toxins Your muscles will have an immediate reaction to a sudden burst of cold water. What they will do is immediately tighten, mostly due to the shock of the cold water and as a way of attempting to keep your body warm in such frigid conditions. When your muscles contract like this, it helps to rid your body of toxins that slow you down, cause you to feel sluggish and make your skin look less than perfect.
3. Relieves depression. Lots of great men and women from history suffered bouts of depression. Most of them used cold water as therapy, and they were right. Research at the Department of Radiation Oncology at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine indicates that short cold showers may stimulate the brain’s “blue spot”– the brain’s primary source of noradrenaline — a chemical that could help mitigate depression. I guess a bout of the blues isn’t so bad after all.
4. Increases energy and well-being. Taking a cold shower is going to wake you up very quickly. Your heart starts pumping, and the rush of blood through your body helps shake off the lethargy of the previous night’s sleep, providing you with the energy you need to help you conquer the day. A side benefit – rinsing the conditioner from your hair with cold water will help it look shinier and healthier.
5. Strengthens your immune system. According to a study done in 1993 by the Thrombosis Research Institute in England, individuals who took daily cold showers saw an increase in the number of virus fighting white blood cells compared to individuals who took hot showers. Researchers believe that the increased metabolic rate, which results from the body’s attempt to warm itself up, activates the immune system and releases more white blood cells in response.
5. Better breathing – you may hyperventilate as soon as you get in a cold shower, which is a pretty natural response. However, the panic will only make the experience worse so it is in your best interest to breathe calmly and deeply. Few people breathe deeply so you may need cold showers to help you do so.
6. Increased testosterone levels. If you are looking for healthy and natural ways of increasing your testosterone levels, take cold showers. Not only is testosterone elevated during the shower, but throughout the day as well.
7. Metabolic advantages – Cold water induces an increased metabolic rate. The cold temperatures force your body to re-regulate the body temperature continually, which utilizes many calories.
Getting Started with Cold Water Showers
It is easy to talk yourself out of a cold shower, but unless you have health problems, you should jump right in. I would not start too cold from day one, but to gradually decrease the temp of the water so your body can adjust. You should talk to your doctor if you suffer from any heart condition, or high blood pressure before starting hydrotherapy.
You’ll start seeing the benefits right after the first shower, and it only gets better as you continue.