Most people will regard a cold shower as an awful way to start the day. They are often the dreaded sign of a boiler problem or that the power has gone out if you’ve got an electric heater.
Bear with us! While unplanned cold showers are no fun, there could actually be some hidden benefits of taking regular ones.
Better than an espresso
A cold shower first thing in the morning is certainly going to wake you up. Most people rely on caffeine to get them out of the door and maintained throughout the day. If you’re looking to reduce the amount of caffeine that you consume, this could be one way to start the day.
If you’ve ever been stuck in a cold shower before you’ll probably notice that your breathing changes. In order to deal with the cold, the body starts to take longer, deeper breaths which allows you to take in more oxygen. Your heart rate will increase in order to assist with blood flow to keep you warm but it will also increase your alertness.
Good for your skin
Hot showers aren’t great for your skin because they have a tendency to dry it out. While it’s a myth that hot water opens your pores and cold water closes them, hot water can make your skin swell slightly which makes your pores look more “open.” Cold water may reduce this but won’t make them disappear.
It’s also good for hair too. Hot water will dry your hair out and make it appear frizzier whereas cold water will help to maintain its health.
Helps with muscle pain
If you’re used to working out hard at the gym and coming home with sore muscles, try a cold shower rather than a hot one. It will cool you down when you need it and also help to minimize muscle pain the next day. That’s why some athletes will have ice baths, it’s said to help reduce swelling and tissue breakdown.
Stimulates weight loss
Cold showers are thought to promote brown fat activity rather than white fat. White fat is the type of fat we accumulate when we over-consume calories which is harder to burn.
Brown fat is better than white. It’s the type that keeps us warm so when we’re exposed to cold temperatures that’s the type that gets targeted. Metabolism is thought to be improved too.
This comes from a study back in 2014 which found that men exposed to a cold environment overnight for a month had an increase in brown fat and changes in metabolism.
Better immune system
Some people believe that regular cold showers can improve your immune system. A study from the Thrombosis Research Institute found that cold showers could increase the amount of white blood cells. This is because as the body tries to warm itself up during a cold shower, your metabolic rate speeds up and activates your immune system.
Better mental wellbeing
Cold showers have been attributed to decreased stress levels and a treatment for depression.
A study from 2004 looked at “winter swimming” a practice popular in Finland. They found that people regularly exposing themselves to cold water via swimming had improved energy levels and reported a better sense of wellbeing.
Another study in 2007 looked at short cold showers and the findings suggested there was a relief of depression symptoms. However, the researchers said that a more widespread study was needed to confirm this.
Though some scientific evidence suggests there might be something in the benefits listed above, there’s not a lot of it. So try them out for yourself to test the benefits. If a whole shower stood under freezing water isn’t appealing, try a short burst of cold water at the end to see how it is.
However, as cold water can have an effect on blood pressure, it’s not advised for people with high blood pressure or any other related health issues.