Are Cold Showers the Key to Transforming Your Morning Routine?
Some devotees have sworn off warm showers completely, vowing an icy shower can improve everything from energy levels to the immune system.
But does the evidence stack up? It’s fair to say a cold shower isn’t the most pleasant experience, so let’s explore the science before jumping in.
4 major health benefits of cold showers
1. Boosts your endorphins
While many of us wouldn’t think of a cold shower as a mood-booster, researchers think that taking a 2-3 minute cold shower a few times a week could work to boost endorphins by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. They also believe the shock of cold water on the skin floods the brain with electrical impulses, which can increase alertness and clarity.
This research is still hypothetical, and there are other ways to boost your endorphins like exercise, meditation and laughing - all arguably more enjoyable than a cold shower.
2. Speeds up metabolism
We all have fat, which is important for keeping us warm and protecting our organs, but researchers have recently discovered we have two types of fat: white fat and brown fat. People with a healthier weight tend to have more brown fat, so researchers think it’s crucial for our metabolism.
Interestingly, the best way to increase your brown fat levels is exposure to cold. While taking cold showers won’t replace a nutritious diet and an active lifestyle, it might be another tool in your arsenal to boosting your metabolism.
Hot water can actually dry out both your skin and hair as it dries out the layer of sebum that provides protection for your skin and hair. So, going for a cold shower may leave you looking more nourished and hydrated.
Cold water also closes and strengthens the hair cuticles, leaving you with luscious locks. People with itchy skin, or with skin conditions like eczema and hives, have also found cold showers to soothe and relieve irritated skin.
Our bodies are incredibly smart and when exposed to shocks (like cold), they ramp up production of immune system cells that fight off infection. This means taking a cold shower can actually boost your white blood cells and keep your immune system in prime condition. A study in the Netherlands found people who took cold showers reported taking fewer sick days off work.
How to make cold showers a habit
Taking a cold shower isn’t a walk in the park, and it’s best to make it a habit by starting small. Here’s how to do it in five easy steps:
1. Start by adding a cold burst at the end of your normal shower to the point where you feel uncomfortable.
2. Over the next few times, try and increase the time to 2-3 minutes under the cold water.
3. Try and make the water a bit colder the next few times.
4. After 7-10 times, try and have a cold shower without starting it hot.
5. Use deep breathing to push through the discomfort.