There is scant research on the benefits of cold shows but the research that we do have is promising. All the research available suggests that cold showers have several benefits. Cold shower is not something many people talked about but it has been extremely beneficial for me. This article is an attempt to identify the benefits of taking cold showers. Since research is scant, I will rely on my personal experience of taking cold showers for over a year now, and let you make an informed decision for yourself once you give it a try.
1) Boosts immune system
A study done in England by Professor Vijay Kakkar showed that cold showers increased a person’s disease-fighting white blood cells. A different study from Germany showed that people who took two minute colder showers developed less colds than those who did not.
I’ve always had a strong immune system. I can only remember once instance in my life where I was sick enough to be bedridden for more than a day. But every once in awhile, I do get a little under-the-weather for a couple of days. I can tell when I’m under-the-weather because my phlegm becomes yellow. But since being on my cold shower regimen, my immune system has gone into overdrive. I don’t even get a little under-the-weather anymore. Everyone can be sick around me, including everyone in my house, and I would get out of it 100% fine. But again, correlation does not equal causation, so I can’t be 100 percent sure that the cold showers are the reason for the boost in my immune system, but it sure lends credence to the studies.
2) Increases muscle recovery
Cold therapy has been around for decades as an effective way for athletes to recover from a day of hard training or a game. A 2009 meta-study analyzing 17 trials involved over 360 people found that people who took a 24 minute cold bath healed faster from sore muscles 1-4 days after arduous physical exertion.
3) Reduces stress
From my personal experience, cold showers seem to have a meditative element to it. Sometimes I would stay under the shower head for 10 minutes and let the cold water just come down. After the cold shower, I am rejuvenated and revitalized. I feel a lot better after a cold shower, as if all the tension caused by daily stress that I’ve held in my postural muscles are just gone.
4) Improves your mood and (potentially) treat mood disorders
In 2008, a study was conducted by Virginia University’s School of Medicine that showed that cold showers have the capacity to improve your mood. Although a much more rigorous study needs to be done in order to confirm its findings, the initial results look promising. The study concluded that “[e]xposure to cold shower is known the activate the sympathetic nervous system an increase the blood level of beta-endophin and noradreline and to increase synaptic release of noradrelaine in the brain as well. Additionally cold shower (is expected) to send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from the peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which could result in an anti-depressive effect.”
Noradrenaline is a neuromodulator that helps people come into a state of high alert and increase the signal-to-noise ratio, enabling the sense of a person to become more heightened. The lack of monoamines, namely noradrenaline and serotonin, are known to be the primary signatures of many mood disorders, such as depression.
I use cold showers as a catalyst for getting work done. Your mood has a lot to do with how productive you are. So when I am feeling lethargic and short on willpower, I just hop in the shower and let the cold water run down for 5-10 minutes. I feel completely different after getting out of the shower, like I am ready to take over the world. On a personal level, cold showering is a definite mood-changer and increases my productivity.
5) Better skin
One of the things I hate about cold shower is what it does to my skin. It dries it up and I would need a lot of lotion after my shower in order to hydrate it. With a cold shower, I never feel like I need to apply lotion immediately after a shower. A cold shower will help your skin and prevent the natural oils from being stripped off. A cold shower will also tighten your cuticles and pores, preventing them from getting clogged.
6) Increases toughness
The reason I started taking cold showers was to increase my mental and physical toughness. The key to toughness is to get used to discomfort—and cold showers are pretty uncomfortable. After taking cold showers for a couple of months, I found that I am able to withstand extreme temperatures a lot better. I am able to withstand cold weather without shivering while only having one layer on, whereas everyone else is wearing 3-4 layers. Although I cannot say without certainty that cold weather makes me more tolerant of pain, it does enable me to withstand discomfort better.
A thing we must remember is that a hot shower is not a necessity. There are no health benefits to a hot shower—it is a luxury. Cold shower on the other hand seem to have many benefits over hot shower, on an anecdotal and empirical level. If you are looking to improve your overall health and wellness, try taking cold showers for a couple of months. You can start out with a few minutes of lukewarm water for the first week or so and then gradually turn the water colder. Additionally, you can still start out with a hot shower and then turn the water colder after a few minutes. Taking cold showers has definitely benefited me and that is why I am still taking cold showers after a year of doing so.