Shower we must. But should your water be hot or cold. I prefer it hot on most days. But could cold showers be good for you too?
Most people’s idea of a good shower is turning the temperature up high and chilling there for a long time. The sensation of a hot shower is so pleasing and relaxing – it almost makes you feel like you’re in a sauna. Steam fills the room, and it’s the only time in your life where you actually enjoy standing up for long periods!
Ironically, hot showers aren’t actually that good for you. If you stay under hot water for too long, you could cause a couple of health problems – mainly relating to your skin. Hot water can trigger sensitive skin, which may lead to breakouts of acne on your body. Similarly, it can also cause excessively dry skin, especially if you shower for a long time.
Instead, you should think about taking cold showers. Showering under cold water isn’t as relaxing as a hot shower, and it will take some getting used to. However, there’s no denying it can provide a series of health benefits.
The Surprising Health Benefits Of Cold Showers
#1 Release endorphins
Every human being has endorphins in their body, but some of us create more than others. As a hormone, endorphins are only released under certain circumstances. Typically, when you’re happy, endorphins are likely to be released in abundance. After all, this has been nicknamed the happiness hormone! But, did you know that cold showers can also help you release more endorphins, improving your mood?
This is because the shock of the cold water sends signals through your body to your brain. This almost shocks your brain into releasing endorphins, as well as doing many other things that will be discussed at a later date. As such, starting the day with a cold shower can be an excellent way of increasing your happiness and putting you in a better mental state!
#2 Increase your alertness
Similarly, cold showers are proven to help improve and increase your alertness. Part of this is down to the hormones released as your body reacts to the cold water, but it could also be down to the physical reaction you have when you get hit with a cold spray.
What happens as soon as you turn the cold shower on – or even when you walk into cold water for the first time? We all react the same way, taking very deep breaths. In doing so, you’re actually increasing your oxygen intake and decreasing your CO2 intake. It’s the opposite of hyperventilating, and the increase in oxygen can be very good for your brain and concentration levels. You start to feel more focused, helping you become more alert.
This is why cold showers are heavily recommended for mornings as they will act like liquid sleep. There’s no need for countless cups of coffee as you can naturally feel more alert with a cold shower – and the effects linger for a lot longer as well.
#3 Protect your skin
The most common mistake is assuming that water is great for your skin. People think that showering will automatically hydrate their skin and make it better. In reality, this doesn’t always happen. It was touched upon in the introduction, but hot showers are very bad for your skin. They can irritate it, and there are heavy links between hot showers and body acne. Likewise, hot showers are also prone to causing dry skin in lots of people.
By contrast, a cold shower can be much better for your skin. There are two main ways that a cold shower helps your skin. Firstly, it can naturally hydrate your skin, which kind of goes against what was just said! So, let’s explain things to clear the air. Hot showers dry your skin because of the temperature of the water. Hot water can strip away your skin’s natural oils, preventing it from retaining moisture. A cold shower is far gentler on the skin, leaving you with all the oils to retain as much moisture as possible.
The second reason a cold shower protects your skin is that it can help to reduce redness. Hot water will obviously make your skin a lot redder, which is a problem if your face is already prone to being red. In fact, the cold water helps to constrict your blood vessels and tighten pores, actively fighting to reduce redness. So, if you want a shower that benefits your skin, make it a cold one!
#4 Enhance hair/scalp health
There’s always a grand debate over whether washing your hair with cold water is good or bad. In truth, you should use warm water to wash your hair initially. It helps shampoo and conditioner to sink in and go to work, while also aiding circulation in your scalp.
Still, one thing people don’t realise is that rinsing everything off with cold water is a genius idea. The coldness helps to lock in more moisture, improving the health and structure of your hair. Not only that, but the contrast from warm to cold tightens the skin on your scalp, further improving circulation. In turn, this can help to prevent hair loss, leaving you with a healthier and cleaner scalp.
#5 Reduce inflammation
If you have ever taken part in any sports or follow professional sportspeople on social media, you’ll know that ice baths are very popular after working out. This is because the coldness is shown to naturally reduce inflammation and promote healing and repair of microtrauma after exercising. In simpler terms, cold water can reduce soreness and make you feel a lot better the next day.
Well, most people don’t have the facilities for an ice bath, so a cold shower will have to do! It works in the exact same way, with the cold water reducing inflammation and encouraging the muscles to heal. If you are into fitness and constantly feel sore after working out, start adding cold showers to your post-workout routines. You’ll be amazed at how effective they are at helping you recover.
#6 Improve your immune system
Yes, a cold shower can boost your immune system and make your body better at fighting diseases. It’s all thanks to an increased white blood cell count in your body after taking cold showers. Nobody is precisely sure as to why this is the case, though some research suggests it’s because cold showers can increase your metabolic rate. Effectively, this refers to how fast your metabolism is, which relates to how quickly and efficiently you burn calories during a day.
Ironically, nobody really knows why cold showers increase your metabolic rate! Some believe it’s because of the hormonal changes caused by the cold water, but the jury is still out on that one. Regardless, there’s enough evidence to suggest that your metabolic rate increases, alongside an improved immune system response.
#7 Burn more fat
Again, it seems unbelievable, but there is evidence to suggest that cold showers can help you burn more fat and lose weight. To be honest, it is more to do with the temperature than the shower itself. Still, if you keep having cold showers, you expose yourself to cold temperatures, which is shown to stimulate the generation of a particular type of fat called brown fat.
This type of fat is actually very good for us. It works to break down blood sugar and fat molecules, creating body heat. In essence, your body creates it to try and cancel out the effects of the coldness. It realises you are freezing, so it tries to react and warm up. By doing this, you are generating energy, and therefore burning calories. So, if you want to naturally supercharge your fat loss, try taking some cold showers every week!
#8 Increase your willpower
Finally, there’s another benefit of cold showers relating to your mental health. A lack of willpower is all too common in modern society. Blame it on whatever you want, we’re all guilty of not having the will to do things now and then. So, finding ways to strengthen your willpower is always a clever idea.
With cold showers, you have a way of doing just that. It takes a lot of strength of will to stay in a cold shower for longer than a few seconds. Your body is not used to the cold, and it is telling you to run away or turn the temperature up. But, you have to keep fighting against this internal will and push ahead. It’s almost like a daily mental challenge, and you can keep pushing yourself to stay in the shower for longer every day – or turn the temperature lower. This strengthens your willpower a great deal, and you can transfer this to all other areas of your life.
As you can see, cold showers present a variety of unique and interesting health benefits. Some of these are borderline unbelievable, but if you do the research you’ll find there’s science behind each point! The bottom line is that cold showers are generally better for you than warm ones. A warm or hot shower has it’s place on a cold day or maybe just before bed, but cold ones are excellent if you want to kickstart your day and see many additional health advantages.
Thank you. Some very useful information, Cory. We did all this while growing up, but seemed to have lost the plot to our geysers and 24 hour water supply.
I will surely give this a go. I am assuming it should help with hot flashes too.
Yes, with summer here, I’ve decided to take cold showers in the mornings. Haven’t worked up the courage to do this at night yet! I remember when I was a kid I’d take cold showers even in Delhi winters!
Ryan K Biddulph
I miss my cold showers Corinne. Back in the Northeast US during winter the pipes became super cold and I enjoyed the sensation. Here in Panama the temperature feels like 92 F at midnight. Think of that for a minute. During the day, 105 is what it sometimes feels like. Hot showers it is.
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