8 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Taking cold showers may sound like a punishment to some people, but there are some surprising health benefits to a burst of cold in your morning routine!

What are Cold Showers?

A cold shower is when you crank the temperature of your shower down, away from the typical comfort of a steamy rinse. Some people take cold showers from start to finish, while others take a traditional warm shower and add a final few seconds of cold water for an invigorating finish. This practice isn’t accepted everywhere, as the idea of taking a cold shower sends a shiver just thinking about it, but many people swear by the energizing and health-boosting properties of this unusual shower style.

Some people are concerned about getting sick from taking a cold shower, as they worry about getting sick when walking outside on a cold, windy day. However, being exposed to cold doesn’t make you sick; it can put undue stress on your immune system, making you more vulnerable to pathogens. In other words, cold showers aren’t going to raise your chances of becoming ill, since your exposure is completely under your control, in terms of temperature and duration. Most showers can put out freezing-cold water, which is very uncomfortable, but even a medium-cold setting should be enough to rejuvenate the body.

Close up of a woman with eyes closed in happiness under a cold shower

Among the benefits of taking cold showers is good blood flow. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Benefits of Cold Showers

The top benefits of cold showers include the following:

  • Strengthening immunity
  • Increasing circulation
  • Speeding post-exercise recovery
  • Boosting the metabolism
  • Stimulating testosterone production
  • Aiding sleep
  • Improving mood and alertness

Let us discuss them in detail below.

Immunity and Circulation

Poor circulation means that toxins are removed less quickly, and organ systems aren’t given the resources they need. A cold shower can not only increase circulation but also promote the elimination of pathogens and the delivery of immune system cells where needed.

Relieve Depression

According to research published in the Medical Hypotheses journal, cold showers help to relieve the symptoms of depression. This is possible because when a person takes a cold shower, it sends an electrical impulse from the nerve endings to the brain, which could possibly help in inducing an antidepressive effect. Although these kinds of showers alone cannot be claimed as a treatment of depression, research suggests that trying them gradually may show positive results.

Weight Loss

The human body contains two types of fat – white fat and brown fat. A rise in white fat is a characteristic of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other diseases. Whereas brown fat is the good type of fat, it helps in passive fat burning and maintaining body temperature. Research shows that, when in cold temperatures, white fat cells take the characteristic of brown fat cells, thereby activating them and promoting weight loss.

Boost Recovery

Following an intense workout, many athletes take cold showers, rather than hot ones, in order to relieve sore muscles. Studies have found that the recovery speed for muscles is almost twice as fast when the body and muscles are immersed in cold water.

Mood and Alertness

The shock of cold water first thing in the morning is an excellent way to kickstart the circulatory system, which will release a flush of blood throughout the body. This is like a burst of natural caffeine to improve energy levels at the start of your day.

Skin and Hair Care

Hot water is known to dry out the skin, whereas cold water can cause the pores to clench up and close, which locks in the moisture. If you have naturally dry skin, try ending your showers with 10-15 seconds of cold water and watch your complexion improve! It also helps in retaining the moisture in the hair, thereby promoting hair health.

Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is responsible for removing toxins from the body. In a cold shower, the lymphatic vessels are directly exposed to cold water, which is what leads to their contraction and relaxation, thereby eliminating the waste from the body and promoting overall health.

Testosterone

When the body is exposed to a stressor, such as an extreme temperature change, it can stimulate the production of key hormones, like testosterone, to help balance the metabolism.

Sleep

Taking cold showers are known to ease the body into a natural state of comfort and sleep.

Cold Shower vs. Hot Shower

As you can imagine, the primary difference between a cold shower and a hot shower is the temperature, but the effects on the body are also different.

Hot showers are considered more relaxing and comfortable, able to reduce stress, joint pain, and muscle aches, whereas cold showers are more energizing and bracing, stimulating your hormone production and circulation within the body.

Word of Caution

While the benefits of cold showers are appealing, there are certain things you should consider before opting for cold showers.

Cold showers are not a wholesome remedy for health concerns but an alternative treatment option to help you. If you have recently recovered from an illness or have weak immunity, make sure to consult with your doctor before trying out cold showers.

It is always best to start slow by lowering the temperature of the water at the end of your shower to get comfortable. You can gradually increase the time and reap the benefits of this shower!

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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