When we think about hot showers and warm baths, thoughts of soothing aromatherapy spas and immense relaxation spring to mind. When it comes to our day-to-day, it’s not uncommon for us to look forward to a hot shower at the end of a busy workday, either. In fact, if we get unexpectedly caught in a spray of cold water, we let out a squeal and jump out of the way as if we’ve just been scalded.
But while you may recoil in horror at the thought of bathing in anything other than warm water, you may be intrigued to know that a bracing cold shower can actually deliver a number of physical and mental health benefits.
For instance, one study found that cold showers could reduce symptoms of depression by sending electrical signals to the brain. Another study showed that cold showers could improve work productivity levels as well as reduce the number of days of medical leave taken.
Still not convinced? We have compiled 6 reasons why you may want to take the plunge and transition from hot showers to cold ones.
It Will Wake You Up
Are you an early riser or someone who sleeps right through the beeping of your alarm clock? If waking up in the morning is a struggle, taking a cold shower may be just what you need to get ready for the day!
The rush of cold water may be a shock to the system, but it’s our response to it (plenty of deep breathing) that will help warm us up and increase our oxygen intake. At the same time, the heart rate rises and our blood flows through our entire body, giving our entire system a massive energy boost.
When you’ve got a cold shower, who needs coffee?
It Benefits the Skin and Hair
Bathing with hot water can actually strip the natural oils from our skin, leading to dryness and irritation, as well as potentially making skin conditions such as eczema worse. Cold water, on the other hand, can actually help to tighten your pores and cuticles, which prevents any further dirt and grime from entering.
Shampooing your hair with cold water is also a good idea. For one, it won’t dry out your scalp. And two, cold water flattens the hair follicles, which not only makes your crowning glory look shinier and healthier; it can also strengthen hair by helping it adhere more easily to the scalp.
It Boosts Immunity and Heart Health
A bracing cold shower improves blood circulation to our organs. This will help the arteries to pump blood much more effectively, promoting better heart function.
There are also indications that showering in cold water can lower your blood pressure and boost immune function. One English study, for example, discovered that taking cold showers daily led to the production of more white blood cells in people, when compared with those who took hot showers. Meanwhile, a 1994 study previously showed that participants who regularly swam in freezing waters during the winter time experienced an increase in the antioxidant glutathione, and found that they were much better able to tolerate oxidative stress.
It Relieves Sore Muscles
We know that putting an ice pack to swelling and inflammation can provide immense relief. Athletes have been known to sit in ice baths after their training to relieve sore muscles, too.
One decade-old study found that immersing in cold-water baths (at a temperature of between 10 to 15 degree Celsius) for 24 minutes can effectively reduce muscle aches between one to four days post-exercise. As it turns out, a cold shower after an intense session at the gym can also do wonders for relieving any muscle soreness post-workout.
It Supports Weight Loss
If you are someone who is looking to lose those last few pounds, you may be interested to find out that taking a cold shower can help with your weight-loss attempts. It seems that cold temperatures, in general, have been shown over and over again to activate the body’s brown fat. Brown fat is the fat that our body uses to generate heat and keep us warm; so when we are exposed to the cold, our brown fat is activated.
One 2009 study found that being exposed to extremely cold temperatures led to a major increase in the burning of brown fat, so much that if done on a regular basis, one can lose up to 4 kg in one year; quite a major incentive to embrace cold showers.
It Alleviates Stress and Lifts Your Mood
Who knew that a cold shower could actually help relieve symptoms of depression? Recent research has, in fact, indicated a positive relationship between moods and cold water hydrotherapy. It seems that the sudden and intense exposure to cold affects the cold receptors in the skin, which leads to a massive amount of electrical impulses being sent to the brain. This reaction produces a mood-boosting effect, which also helps to lessen stress.