While most people wouldn’t think of taking a cold shower when they get out of bed in the morning, you can reap many health benefits by turning the knob right instead of left. Cold showers help boost your overall mental and physical health by strengthening your willpower and nervous system response.
When you take cold showers regularly, you’ll notice dramatic changes in your body’s immune, lymphatic, circulatory, and digestive systems. It might sound like a crazy idea to take an icy cold shower, but you might want to try it after hearing about its incredible benefits for the mind and body.
Cold showers help the body handle stress better as you expose it to extreme conditions and boost willpower. The cold water helps improve hair and skin by reducing the size of pores and stimulating hair follicles. Showering in cold water also helps wake you up in the morning, so much so that you might not need coffee anymore!
Here are eight health benefits of taking a cold shower:
1. Boosts circulation in the lymphatic system
The lymphatic system consists of vessels throughout the body that help eliminate waste, bacteria, and microbes from the cells. As the lymphatic system helps the body clean itself, an overload of toxins can disrupt this delicate system. Many people don’t get enough exercise in today’s world, but the lymph fluid requires movement to cleanse toxins. Living a primarily sedentary lifestyle allows the buildup of toxins as the fluid stays in the body, which can lead to several diseases.
While blood gets pumped through the body continuously by the heart, the lymph system doesn’t have a pump, so it requires bodily movement to function properly. So, how do cold showers help the lymphatic system? The cold water helps contract the lymph vessels, which makes the lymphatic system pump lymph fluids throughout the body. In turn, waste gets eliminated. Cold showers also boost the immune system because white blood cells help destroy toxins in the lymph fluid.
2. Improves cardiovascular circulation
Did you know cold showers can help improve circulation? While most people attribute exercise and diet to better circulation, immersing yourself in cold water can have the same effect. Poor cardiovascular circulation causes blood to slow and thicken, which can strain the heart. This can easily lead to a heart attack or stroke if not corrected. However, by speeding up circulation, blood can flow better throughout the body and help speed up metabolism.
By immersing yourself in cold water, the blood immediately rushes to vital organs to protect them from extreme temperature changes. Then, your heart must pump blood through your vessels and the vital organs to give them nutrients and oxygen. If you take cold showers regularly, you’ll see a noticeable difference in your circulation.
When you expose your skin to cold water, the blood vessels on the skin’s surface start to constrict. This explains why blood flows to vital organs. One study found that a cold shower after a workout may improve hydration by cooling the body.
So, not only will your circulation improve, but cold showers can also help hydrate the body.
3. Lowers muscle inflammation
Everyone knows that sore, painful feeling in the muscles after an intense workout. Some people swear by heating pads or hot oil massages, but cold showers can also help to lower inflammation. Any time you exercise, especially as a beginner, the muscles must tear a little bit each time as you resist them to make them stronger. This process explains the intense pain people feel after a strenuous workout.
However, cold showers help to constrict blood vessels, which lowers swelling and inflammation. Many professional athletes take a bath in ice water after a workout for this very reason – it helps reduce the temperature in the body and ease the pain. However, anyone can benefit from cold showers after workouts or doing household chores. If you have chronic inflammation, try out a cold shower as a natural remedy. You might not even need anti-inflammatory pills or anything else!
4. Cold showers make you happier (seriously…read on)
While taking cold showers may not permanently cure depression, it can certainly help with the symptoms temporarily. A 2007 research study found that cold showers, alongside traditional remedies such as pharmaceutical pills and therapy, can help lift moods and ease other symptoms of depression.
Cold showers help with depression because the cold water triggers mood-enhancing neurotransmitters, which can boost happiness levels. Another case study showed that after four months of swimming in cold water in the winter, the subjects felt more vibrant and active than the control group.
Other beneficial lifestyle changes to help with depression:
- Changing your diet. Eating a whole-food, plant-based diet can help balance brain chemicals that cause depression symptoms.
- Getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can easily cause irritable moods and depressive symptoms. Ensure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
- Drinking enough water. Many people have chronic dehydration, which means the brain lacks adequate oxygen, which can lead to low moods. Try to drink at least a gallon of water per day.
- Even if you only have 15 or 30 minutes a day to spare, try to walk around the neighborhood or go for a quick run. Exercise helps to release endorphins that boost your mood.
- Practice deep breathing, yoga, or meditation. Many people breathe too shallowly and quickly, which heightens anxiety and stress. Dedicating some of your mornings to self-care with deep breathing or relaxation techniques. This will help keep you calm, centered, and blissful throughout your day!
5. Helps with weight loss
Since cold water helps stimulate blood flow, it can boost your metabolism, inevitably aiding in weight loss. When you’re cold, your body must work harder to warm itself. Plus, cold showers help to stimulate a specific type of fat in the body that speeds up weight loss.
Researchers revealed that a cold shower stimulates brown fat, activated in freezing temperatures. Brown fat helps eliminate dangerous white fat, accumulating around organs and the waist. Cold showers can easily supplement a healthy lifestyle to boost weight loss efforts.
6. Boosts hair and skin health
If you have chronically dry hair or skin, cold showers can help make them appear vibrant and healthy once again. Cold water reduces the size of your pores and tightens skin, plus it lowers the number of oils your skin produces in hot temperatures. Hot showers irritate the skin and dry it out, which makes the skin lose moisture. The cold water helps to stimulate hair follicles, which increases vibrancy and length.
7. Speeds up the body’s cooling response
If you’ve just worked out in the gym or worked in the garden, a refreshing shower will feel amazing on your skin. Doctors recommend immersing your body in cold water if you’ve suffered from overheating or a heat stroke since it immediately lowers your body temperature.
8. Lowers pain and swelling
If you’ve sprained your ankle or broken a bone, you know how much an ice pack can help with the pain and swelling. Doctors have recommended elevating the legs and placing ice on the affected area for decades because it works well to ease the pain.
Cold showers work the same way to heal an injury, although ice is still recommended as a supplement. Ice and cold temperatures help constrict blood vessels, which lowers inflammation that causes pain and swelling. Cold showers can also numb nerve endings that signal pain to the brain.
Final thoughts about the health benefits of cold showers
Cold showers may not get the popular vote, but they have so many benefits once you get past the initial discomfort and shock to the body. They can help fight depression, lower pain and swelling, boost cardiovascular and lymphatic circulation, and lower muscle inflammation. Additionally, cold showers can aid in weight loss, make skin and hair healthier, speed up the body’s cooling response, and much more.
Even if you only start with a quick 3 minute cold shower, you’ll instantly feel the benefits and gradually get more mental stamina to endure more prolonged exposure. If you haven’t tried cold showers and have inflammation, depression, or dull hair or skin, you might have found the cure you’ve been looking for with cold showers. Not to mention, cold showers will help save you money on your water bill since the water heater won’t have to run as long!
Athletes swear by cold showers and ice baths to help their sore muscles after a hard game or workout, and you can reap the same benefits.
We want to hear from you. Would you take a cold shower, even just for a few seconds?