The concept of cold showers has been experimented with for ages. Could throwing the temperature down actually elicit any positive effects? Here is a list of benefits that you could potentially reap by incorporating the occasional cold shower into your routine:
1) Increased Circulation and Alertness:
As you try to catch your breath (and maybe mutter a few choice words to yourself) when that icy water first hits you, you begin to inhale higher amounts of oxygen. This increases your circulation, which floods your organs with blood and allows them to function more efficiently. Your heart can now pump with lower pressure, and your brain can heighten your alertness.
2) Boost your Immune System:
· As the body fights off the stress of the cold by warming itself, the amount of stress hormones circulating throughout the bloodstream starts to decrease. Without these to worry about, the immune system can instead focus on creating white blood cells to fight off diseases.
· Cold water causes the body’s internal vessels to constrict. When they warm back up, they relax. This squeeze-release motion helps break up blockages within the vessels, which allows the immune system to flush cellular wastes from the body.
3) Improved Recovery:
Remember the last time you did Murph? You somehow weren’t too sore the day after, but then woke up the following morning convinced that six elephants had stomped on your arms in your sleep? You were experiencing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS for short). Your muscles were acutely inflamed due to exercise-induced damage to the muscle fibers.
Cold showers might come in handy here. We’ve already discussed how the cold water boosts circulation and improves blood flow. This extra blood and oxygen to the muscles allow the cells to repair damage more efficiently. This reduces swelling, which reduces soreness, and ultimately helps us recover quicker (and hopefully dodge the next stampede of pachyderms).
4) Improved Skin and Hair Quality:
Cold water causes pores to tighten up, which holds the natural healthy oils in the skin while preventing excess oils from pooling on its surface later on. The natural oils secreted from hair follicles are similarly maintained, keeping hair healthy and shiny. The cold water also causes the skin to latch more firmly onto the hair. This makes it more difficult for hairs to fall out, creating an overall thicker, more voluminous head of luscious locks.
5) Improved Emotion Regulation:
· Stress: As stated above, cold showers place small amounts of stress on the body. The more frequently we expose our bodies to a stressor, the more equipped it will become to tolerate it, as well as any additional stressors that life throws at us.
· Depression: The shock of the cold can cause the receptors on the skin to stimulate the brain. This just so happens to have an antidepressant effect that can elevate your mood. The cold also triggers the release of endorphins and noradrenaline to provide pain relief and feelings of happiness.
· Willpower: If you can condition yourself to adopt a habit as seemingly unpleasant as standing in a cold shower, chances are you have the dedication and determination to do anything!
The studies that support these findings all present a variety of ways to approach a cold shower: some will simply add a minute or so of the coldest possible temperature on to the end of their normal, warm shower; others bite the bullet and are in and out in two minutes of constant cold. Find what works for you and give it a shot! One thing is for sure: you will save money on your hot water!
By Hannah Stevens