Cold Shower Benefits are Powerful, But Little Known
The first week I began taking cold showers, it was a sort of dreadful experience. Many alcoholics will tell you that after they stopped drinking, the worst part was feeling as if they’d “lost a friend.” Its the same with those who stop eating sugar. Sugar was their companion on those lonely, depressing nights. Well, the hot shower was also more of a companion than I ever expected. When I first read about cold shower benefits, I wasn’t moved much by it. It sounded unbelievably ridiculous in a way. Hot showers, of course, are amazing! How could someone not shower in steamy hot water?
It took about a year from the date that I read about cold shower benefits to actually care to try it. Speaking honestly, I was motivated by the uprising of some psoriasis plaques I noticed on my elbows, head, and shins. It seemed that many people with psoriases attested to the merciless effects hot showers had on the plaques.
After taking my first cold shower, I realized that they were right. My psoriasis did not go away, per se, but it was immediately tamed within the first 48 hours of the cold shower therapy. However, I learned that cold shower benefits go well-beyond taming psoriases. Over the first few weeks of cold showering, I noticed all types of unexpected positive effects.
Cold Shower Benefits
Before I get to my anecdotal sermon over the matter, let’s look at some of the more official, reported benefits of a cold shower.
Cold Showers Boost Immunity
Who enjoys being sick? No one (hopefully). Strengthening the immune system is a definitive way to decrease how often you are sick and expidite the healing process of injuries. A strong immune system is also capable of helping to stave off degeneritive diseases.
A 1993 study showed that cold showers increase white blood cell production versus those people who were subjected to only hot showers. White blood cells help fight disease.
The core competency of this cold shower benefit seems to be the body’s response to being hit with the cold water. As it attempts to warm the body back up, it generates the white blood cells as a response, thereby increasing immunity.
Cold Showers Help Combat Depression
What if I told you that taking a cold shower on the daily could help you feel less depressed? What if I told you that cold shower benefits were more powerful than antidepressants? Would you need a study to confirm my wild claims?
Fine, here’s just what the scientist ordered…
A study conducted at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine found that the science behind why cold showers fight depression does indeed exist. In fact, it was found that cold showers are more effective than anti-depressants. And this is super important. Here’s the important excerpt from the study’s conclusion:
Exposure to cold is known to activate the sympathetic nervous system and increase the blood level of beta-endorphin and noradrenaline and to increase synaptic release of noradrenaline in the brain as well. Additionally, due to the high density of cold receptors in the skin, a cold shower is expected to send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which could result in an anti-depressive effect. Practical testing by a statistically insignificant number of people, who did not have sufficient symptoms to be diagnosed with depression, showed that the cold hydrotherapy can relieve depressive symptoms rather effectively. The therapy was also found to have a significant analgesic effect and it does not appear to have noticeable side effects or cause dependence.
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Cold Showers and Fat Loss
Losing weight is hard. Losing weight beyond 40 years of age is a climbing an erupting volcano hoping to reach the apex. But burning off fat is really just a combination of a lot of little things accomplished over a long stretch of time. Most of us shower daily. If that shower can help shed fat, even just a little, that would add up over the long-haul.
So what about this cold shower fat loss stuff? Well, it begins with the concept that humans possess two types of fat: brown fat and white fat. Brown fat is a good fat because it helps us stay warmer. Cold showers activate this brown fat and increase it in the neck and shoulder area. Wait, so the cold shower is making us fatter? Nope, the increased brown fat activity tends to burn off the white fat that’s haunting your belly.
Three other cold shower benefits are increased alertness and improved self-discipline and much-improved skin. Hot water is harmful to your skin’s health.
So allow me to talk about my cold shower experiences. I will admit that at first, it was tough, but allow me to be straightforward with the exacts on how I do my cold showers.
Firstly, I rarely get in with the water freezing cold to start, but at the same time, I never allow the shower to be “warm” in any capacity. I start at room temperature, which usually feels a little like a mildly cold hit initially. I clean up in fast order. Then I jack that lever down to cold. It definitely feels harsh, but also invigorating.
I feel way more awake and energized following the shower. Additionally, my skin gleams with health. I feel way more clean than I would have with a steaming hot shower. It only took a few days for my skin to have a noticeable better glow.
Cold showers have improved my psoriasis, but not cured it. I definitely don’t feel the need to scratch them anymore. And I’m sure it helps because on the rare occasion I’ve slipped up and used a hot shower, the psoriasis plaques have flared up.
My water bill went way down. Cold showers are all about doing your business and getting out, you stop wasting water. I used to take 20 and 30-minute hot showers, I just couldn’t get out. And while sure, I could justify the hot shower as “relaxation and thinking time,” the cold shower has made me way more productive. I am out the door much faster than I used to be. And I feel great.
I eat relatively healthy, so I can’t say one way or another on the immunity aspect. The science seems legit, however, so I trust it is a benefit.
I know longer crave hot showers. After a few days of cold showering, I just stopped caring about hot showers. My slip-ups have happened when I’ve not gotten enough sleep, or been super sore. The cold shower would most likely be more helpful in those situations, but I think its just the change in pace that causes me to occasionally slip up. The effects of the hot shower are immediately noticeable. And that always motivates me to go back to cold showers.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.