10 Health Benefits of Cold Showers
The practice of cold showers is still very much in the traditions of several nations today: Finland, Russia, Thailand, Korea, Japan and many others have a history of cold showering for good health. Read on to find out why maybe you should start feeling the chill of cold water!
Through thorough scientific research, many health benefits have been identified for exposing your body to regular bursts of coldness. This is best achieved by taking a cold shower each morning or evening at a temperature that you can just about put up with.
If you decide to start taking cold showers, slowly adjusting the temperature is best advised. However, many people (myself included) decide to "throw themselves in at the deep end" of cold showering and start by simply throwing themselves under as cold water as they can get their hands on! This is of course a much quicker way of reaping the health benefits of cold exposure but carries the downfall of much more discomfort and risk to your health. For those with potentially weak hearts, the gradual 'easing' method is strongly advised.
With that said, here are just 10 benefits of taking regular cold showers.
To help you decide: see "Benefits of Hot Showers" for the alternative health boosting bathing method!
1. Strengthens Immunity
The most established benefit of cold showers is that overall, they simply increase your chances of fighting off disease and infection. People who take regular cold showers have been shown to have less chance of getting things like:
- Varicose veins
2. Improves Blood Circulation
Blood circulation is simply the flow of blood around the body.
Exposing yourself to the cold means that your body does something called "vasoconstriction" referring to the constriction (tightening) of your arteries and veins. This tightening helps blood to flow at a higher pressure, as now there is less space for the blood to flow. This means that blood circulation will improve.
Vasodilation, the opposite effect, occurs when we are exposed to heat, and makes our blood flow nearer to our skin so that we lose heat to the outside of our bodies more. This however reduces the general blood pressure that we normally have and can be seen as a negative point to taking regular hot showers.
Our bodies tend to maintain a blood pressure that is dependent on how hot or cold we generally are. A shocking experience such as a cold shower will increase the efficiency of vasoconstriction and its included blood pressure-benefits like higher fertility in men!
Skip to 3:00 for an explanation of the circulatory and other benefits of using cold showers :)
3. Weight Loss - Brown Fat!
Brown fat, as opposed to white fat is heavily involved in burning energy. Exposure to cold naturally stimulates the production of these brown fats. These cells burn glucose (the calories you eat and the white fat that you store) to try to produces as much heat energy as possible. Having a higher amount of brown fat leads to more energy being burned per second and therefore, more weight is lost.
In the video at the end, we see that brown fat:
- Protects us from aging,
- Fights obesity,
- Fights diabetes,
- Fights heart disease.
4. Aids Sleep
Another great reason to start having cold showers is that for some reason or another, it aids sleeping. Insomniacs are advised to try this - the physical stress and shock of a cold shower before bedtime really helps you to calm down after the exhilarating feeling of being extra alive under the water. Like coffee?
5. Regulates Temperature
Taking cold showers has been shown to help normalise a healthy human temperature, regulating the amount of sweat you produce in doing so.
This means that if you suffer from chronically cold hands and feet, or feel that you sweat an abnormal amount, cold showers will help you.
On the other end of the spectrum, the regular bursts of cold water will ready you for any time you're out in the cold - this means less sniffles and mucus running down your face when you're out with your significant other!
6. Alleviates Depression
Depression is yet another thing that cold showers help and prevent. It is caused by the stimulating effect the cold has on the brains "blue spot", the main source of noradrenaline for our bodies, a chemical that might be used to help alleviate depression.
You will notice that after having a cold shower, you will feel very happy - sometimes referred to as euphoria. This feeling can be compared to the happiness you feel after exercise because of the endorphins released.
7. Increases Metabolism
As a result of the increased brown fat levels, blood pressure and body temperature, chemical reactions in your body will happen faster (heightened metabolism) than they would have without regular cold showers. An increased metabolism is what a lot of people seek out because it means that any process in the body will become more efficient.
This means more weight loss because more calories are being burned to supply energy for more reactions. It also means faster growth/repair of muscles and other cells so any exercise you do will result in better results leaving a fitter, leaner body.
Even the Lymphatic System!
8. Improve Lymphatic Movement
The lymphatic system is the system of tubing responsible for carrying away waste from your cells as well as helping to fight pathogens (disease).
Once again for emphasis, unlike blood vessels, the lymphatic system does not use blood. Instead it has lymph (duh!), which carries away waste products and white blood cells to deal with infections. The most important difference from your blood vessels, however, is that the heart does not pump lymph around the body!
Instead, lymph relies on the contraction of muscles to circulate. This contraction squeezes the lymph up to the thoracic duct where the lymph can mix with the blood so that the waste products can be dealt with by our organs.
Cold showers cause whole-body contraction and this works excellently with the lymph system, squeezing the fluid up through the body to prevent lymph from festering.
This is very important since if the lymphatic system is compromised and becomes inefficient, lymph pools (usually in the feet) and results in what is known as lymphedema (a type of edema).
9. Detoxifies Your Body
Another result of the whole body contraction is that it results in the squeezing of toxins and waste products out of the skin. This means that they do not stay inside the body and cause infection or put extra strain on the organs responsible for breaking them down into manageable pieces.
This detoxification can make you feel better and more 'fresh'. It also has a good effect on the skin which appears cleaner and younger. Hair follicles contracting has also been said to make hair look better and younger - you may have heard that being out in the rain is good for your hair. Bear in mind that rainwater is just cold water and contains no special ingredients!
10. Deepens Breathing
What you will notice as an effect of cold showers is that you begin inhaling very deeply. This is to try and combat the stress of the shock, the vasoconstriction and so the overall extra need for oxygen to respire and keep yourself warm.
This process opens up the lungs much like strenuous physical exercise does and results in a higher average intake of oxygen, which is good for many things including not feeling tired during the day and doing better at sport or other exercises.
And it's not only good for your health...
Perhaps not a health benefit, but taking cold showers also means using no energy whilst washing yourself - meaning less CO2 and other greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. This results in less global warming and a lower electricity bill!
On top of knowing that you're helping yourself, you can shower in the knowledge that you're doing your bit for the environment too!
For information on why CO2 and other greenhouses gases are bad, see Greenhouse Gases.
Save the World!
All in All
All in all, I hope I have convinced you that taking showers has a large variety of health benefits, ranging from important ones like boosted immunity to less important ones like better skin. It may seem as though I have tried to sell you cold showers, and that is because I have.
All of these benefits are not easy to reap because taking cold showers is not the easiest of things to get yourself to do! Especially regularly. I find myself sometimes shying away from cold showers to go for a more pleasant warm one.
The very psychology of a human being is to stay away from such strain and pressure. In the modern day, however, we do not get the moderate cold stimulation and natural stress that kept us fit and healthy that we used to.
In the modern era we live in it is possible to eliminate almost all physiological pressure, and many people live their lives without putting any physical stress on their bodies at all. Since our bodies have developed in light of strenuous stimuli, it is appears inherent to being a healthy human being that we expose ourselves to a controlled quantity of it.
Many diseases like oedema, bad skin, and generally weaker immune systems can arise from living a too comfortable life and can spell being susceptible to possibly fatal diseases. Something nobody wants.
So, like a lot of things in life, cold showers are a no-pain-no gain-situation. If you feel like you suffer from many of the problems that cold showers would help, or were just wondering how to improve on yourself as a person without losing time, then cold showers are definitely for you!
- Brown adipose tissue - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In order to understand how cold showers increase your metabolism you need to know the basics of brown fat - cells that burn fuel (ATP) in order to produce heat for your body. These cells require a vast capillary network (are metabolically demanding).
- Discovery Channel : Science, History, Space, Tech, Sharks, News!
- The Art of Manliness | Men’s Interests and Lifestyle
Articles of Interest
- 5 Benefits of Hot Showers
You may know that there are many health benefits of taking regular cold showers, but did you know that there are many incredible benefits of taking hot showers too? Read on to find out why maybe hot showers have been underestimated...
- Cold Showers Benefits - Dr KP Buteyko Swimming in Snow - YouTube
Cold shower benefits has been shown in numerous studies that are quoted by Dr. Artour Rakhimov. Taking cold showers and cold adaptation have always been impo...
How do you like your showers?
© 2011 DK