Have you ever had one of those days where everything seems to go wrong? You come home thinking of relaxing, hop into the shower, and then find out you’re out of hot water. So your only option is to shower with cold water. Talk about a bad day. But is cold water really so bad?
Sure, cold water might be unpleasant at first, but can it actually have benefits that you simply can’t get when you shower with hot or room temperature water? What are the long term and short term benefits of cold water showers? Are there any dangers or risks?
Cold showers have the immediate benefit of waking you up if you have one in the morning. If you have a cold shower after your workouts, you can reduce soreness and even lose weight. Even if we ignore these short term benefits, there are many long term advantages to taking cold showers. Healthier skin, stronger hair, and reduced stress are just a few examples of the long term wonders of cold showers.
Cold showers vs hot showers – pros and cons
What’s so special about cold water showers? Some people find them refreshing but it’s not really a pleasant experience compared to a hot water shower.
The below table summarizes the difference:
|Cold shower||Hot shower|
|Reduces any itchiness in your skin||Dries out and irritates your skin|
|Wakes you up and gives a fresh feeling||Makes you relaxed leading to sleepiness|
|Better blood circulation||Increases blood pressure|
|Reducing the soreness in your muscles||Helps soothe and relax your muscles|
|Helps with weight loss||Helps with cleaning your nasal passages|
|Strengthens your skin and hair||Can lead to itchy skin|
|Not a good idea if you are sick||Can help decrease cold symptoms|
Whenever we wake up in the morning, we all want to go back to sleep. Just for 5 more minutes, and then 5 more.
But let’s face it, we need to get our work done, and a cold shower is a perfect way to start your day. That shock you get when the cold water first touches your skin makes you alert and wakes you up, ready to face the day.
A hot shower might sound much better, especially if you just woke up. But it might just be contributing to various skin problems, especially if you’ve been doing it for a while. If you’ve noticed itchy dry skin and frizzy hair, they may be a result of too many hot showers.
The short term benefits of cold showers
Now that we know the pros and cons of hot and cold showers, let’s look at a few of the short term benefits of cold showers.
- Reduced muscle soreness – How many times after a workout have you had trouble getting out of bed and even lifting your arm to drink your coffee? Well, the fix is a simple cold shower after working out. The cold water relaxes and repairs your muscles. It does this because the cold actually targets the sore body parts and reduces your muscles’ inflammation. This was proven by a study with 17 participants who had exertional hyperthermia. So next time you have an intense workout, you know what to do.
- Increased productivity – Gone are the days you take 30 minutes to drag yourself out of bed and have breakfast. The cold water spray in the morning shocks you. This shock increases your heart and breathing rate, which in turn increases your oxygen intake and alertness.
- Increased circulation – Once the cold water touches your skin, it reduces the circulation on the body’s surface. Because of this, the blood in your internal tissues has to circulate faster to maintain your body temperature, reducing inflammation.
- Reducing itchiness – We’ve all had itchy skin at some point, maybe because of allergies or simply dry skin. Scratching it will definitely make it worse, but it’s also tough to stop yourself from scratching the itch. Cold showers can help you reduce itchiness. This trick is beneficial if you have a skin disease such as eczema.
The long term benefits of cold showers
Now that we’ve looked at what cold showers can do as soon as you have them, let’s look at how they might help you if you make them a regular activity.
Once you’ve been taking cold showers for some time daily, you might notice the below changes
- Stronger hair – Cold water causes your hair cuticles to close, strengthening them. It also protects a lubricated barrier named the sebum layer (which protects your hair). There isn’t a significant change after a few showers, but as you keep taking cold showers for weeks, you will notice less hair fall and stronger hair.
- Helps with weight loss – Unfortunately, cold showers alone will not make you lose that extra weight you’ve been trying to get rid of, but they can stimulate fat cells to keep your body warm by burning fat. So your morning shower can actually contribute to your weight goals.
- Healthier skin – Coldwater has the unique property of not removing natural oils from your skin. These oils exist for a reason, and that is to protect your skin from drying up. Who knew you could replace most of the expensive skincare products with a cold shower.
- Better mood – A study conducted by Dr. Geert A. Buijze demonstrated that cold exposure (such as a cold shower) releases pain suppressing hormones beta-endorphin and noradrenaline, which decrease depression symptoms. The increased productivity can also help make you feel happier as you get more work done.
The impact of cold showers on reducing depression was also noted by Dr. Nikolai A.Shevchuk. A cold shower of 20 °C for 2 to 3 minutes daily over a few months was shown to significantly reduce depression symptoms with no side effects.
Introducing cold showers into your daily routine
Now that you have seen the amazing things a cold shower can do for you, I’m sure you would love to start a habit of having one daily. But this is easier said than done.
Day 1 and 2 of trying to have a cold shower in the morning will probably be difficult. We hate change, and let’s be honest, a cold shower in the morning sounds extreme. Most people tend to give up at this point, and the ones that do take a shower find it uncomfortable. But after the shower, they notice alertness that was never there in previous days. They also feel better and fresh throughout the day.
Day 3 and 4 still gives you goosebumps, but now you don’t really dread getting into that shower. The cold water still shocks you, but at this point, you might start enjoying it. When days 5 and 6 come around, you’re actually looking forward to it.
The hardest part is getting through day 1 and 2. You must set a goal of getting into the cold shower for a few minutes daily to create a routine. Once you get that going, you’ll also notice that you are in a better mood, you feel fresh, and you don’t really get stressed as much as you used to. When considering all the above benefits, is it really a surprise that health coaches recommend taking cold showers, especially in the morning or after a workout?
When looking at all the facts and figures, we can see an obvious number of benefits from a simple 5-minute activity every day, a cold shower. You can be healthier, look better, feel better with no additional cost or effort. In fact, you might even be saving money on hot water and skincare products.
So why not take a cold shower for a few days and see for yourself. You can always switch back to regular showers if you change your mind. But once you start seeing and feeling the change, your life will never be the same.