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Are Cold Showers Actually Good For You?

Wim Hof is popularly known as the “Iceman” and he is one of many health professionals that advice the regular use and exposure to ice cold water. There is still a lot of confusion amongst people about which is better, cold showers or warm baths.

Those who have regular cold showers insist that it helps them to manage stress and there is a popular belief that although it can be uncomfortable at the start but it can generally improve your immune system.

On the scientific side, research has actually shown some of the amazing benefits of cold showers that range from alertness to a general increase in productivity.

What is a cold shower?

This is pretty obvious from the name. A cold shower is determined by the temperature of the water. Any water in the region of 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit is considered cold water. Since times past, humans have had a steady exposure to different extremes of temperature and this is very stressful to the body. It is enough to put you in a fight or flight mode.

Studies have shown a correlation between the amounts of cortisol, norepinephrine and adrenaline that is released in the system and exposure to cold water. This is translated into a total shut down of any non-essential bodily function.

Even though it sounds scary to have these stress hormones in your system at any particular time, it is actually healthy to have them in short periods of time and eventually recover. This will feel like exercise and can be very beneficial.

Benefits

Reduced inflammation and better circulation

We spend most of our time in stationary positions and this is what is referred to as a sedentary lifestyle. Whenever you push your body physically whether though exercise or other activities, you experience some pain in your muscles. This is as a result of tiny tears in the fibers. Taking a cold shower will help your body recover quickly from these sessions and reduce your stress levels.

Cold exposure is a form of hormesis and this is a situation where hermetic stressors are beneficial to your bodily functions. Cold water exposure has also been found to improve the circulatory system. This is because cold water helps reduce inflammation in the system by constricting your blood vessels.

Studies have also shown that cold showers can boost the immune system since they have a direct correlation to the amount of white blood cells that your body produces. Cold water will help you with recovery from stress levels, improve circulation and help with your overall cardiovascular health.

Alertness and improved mental clarity

Since cold water has a jolting effect on your body upon contact, it will generally help increase your alertness levels. Cold water exposure also boosts energy levels in the body and helps with concentration as you tend to take in deeper breaths upon exposure. There is a general feeling of being uplifted and revived.

Enhanced Skin and hair health

For those with dry or dull skin and unruly hair that never looks pretty, a healthy exposure to cold water on a regular basis will help improve this look. Cold showers have a very good effect on skin and hair health.

Some studies have shown that cold showers help improve dry skin, inflammation and itching. Try not to succumb to the urge to crank up the temperature of the water you bath with. Hot water showers can adversely affect the skin and hair.

Uplifting the mood and confidence

Another powerful benefit to be derived from cold water showers is its effectiveness in dealing with depression and moods. It is not so easy to pour cold water on the head and down the body and it kind of feels unpleasant at the start but it is guaranteed to have you in a better mood at the end.

As far as its effect on your mood, the importance of cold water exposure is a lot more profound than you might even know. Studies have shown that these cold showers are effective in treating depression and its symptoms and if used routinely, it can be a lot more potent than even medications.

There are so many high density cold receptors in the skin and exposure to cold water sends a huge amount of electrical impulses through your body and this is what helps lift your mood.

Improves fertility

Men are discouraged from excessively hot environments such as saunas, hot tubs and similar areas as this can be detrimental to their reproductive systems. Men are also discouraged from excessive cycling simply because the friction heats up the testes. So naturally, cold showers will have an opposite and positive effect on the reproductive system since they reduce the temperature.

Aids metabolism

Another advantage of cold water baths is in the area of fat burning and loss. A consistent exposure to cold water and cold water immersion will increase your metabolic rates. It will not cause any drastic weight loss especially if it’s not backed up with a general lifestyle change but it helps in its own little way.

Cold water makes your body work harder and consequently raise temperatures within and this is what translates to fat burning.

Is a cold shower better than a hot shower?

Cold and hot showers as anything in life both have their advantages and disadvantages. But which is better?

Advantages of cold water showers

  • Alleviates inflammation and swelling
  • Helps with muscle spasms
  • Pain relief
  • Boosts immune system and energy levels
  • Reduces the amount of cortisol in the system

Advantages of hot showers

Hot water is also beneficial to your health.

Some of the benefits to be had are below

  • Helps with stiffness
  • Reduces stress levels
  • Helps with insomnia
  • Helps with menstrual cramps
  • Relieves headaches and migraines

Warm showers are also beneficial but it is important to do this at the right time of the day. It is better to have hot showers at night and cold ones are more suitable in the morning as a means to jolt your body awake and boost your energy levels.

So which is better?

Cold water and hot water baths are recommended at different times, circumstances and conditions. It is not crystal clear which is better and there is no proof that the effect of a cold or hot shower is equivalent to the application of an ice or heating pad.

Hot showers and cold showers all have peculiar advantages and disadvantages and it can’t be said that one is better than the other.

Sources:

https://globalnews.ca/news/3998438/cold-shower-benefits/

https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/hair-skin-nails/are-cold-showers-good-for-you/

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/surprising-benefits-cold-showers.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5025014/

 

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