Cold showers by the numbers: The Scientific basis

betaherbs circulatory system to major organs

I made a conscious decision to start taking cold showers. I start off with lukewarm water and finish the last two minutes of the shower with cold water. I start off with lukewarm water so that I don’t shock my body with cold water, particularly after working out at the gym. Ending with cold water has proved to be invigorating and it literary brightens my day.

Cold showers can help you lose weight and ramp up your metabolism.

According to Dr. Oz, Our body is designed for the old world and not the new world. Our bodies were designed to adapt to temperature extremes. This is contrary to the way we live nowadays. We live in climate controlled environments. For example, on my office floor, the thermostat is set at 22o C year round.  In such controlled environments, we do not stimulate our biology!

Health benefits of cold showers

Initially, cold showers activate the fight or flight response. You scream when the cold water hits you. But by relaxing in a cold shower, you suppress the fight or flight response, and your metabolism ramps up. It builds up brown fat cells – whose sole purpose is to sap energy from white fat to generate heat.

When your body is exposed to freezing temperatures, a number of things happen.

  1. The fight or flight response is activated immediately in your brain
  2. The fight or flight response starts to fight the cold in the following manner.
    • The heart starts pumping blood faster by squeezing down the circulatory system.
    • The heart pumps blood to vital organs such as the gut and the lungs, to keep them warm.

You will find that over time the immune system adapts and reaches a new normal, which might be a healthier state to be. Now that I have been taking cold showers for a couple months, I no longer squirm when the cold water hits me. As a matter of fact, I look forward to the sensation!

The cold showers I take keep my skin and hair healthy by closing up cuticles and pores. Hot water, on the other hand, dries out skin and hair.

Other Benefits of cold showers

Doctors continue to use hydrotherapy to treat injuries such as strained muscles and broken bones. You will notice that athletes today take ice baths to speed their recovery from injuries and intense workouts.

For reasons given above, cold showers improve circulation. Good blood circulation is vital for overall cardiovascular health. Healthy blood circulation also speeds up recovery time from strenuous exercises and work. Alternating between hot and cold water while you shower is an easy way to improve your circulation. Cold water causes your blood to move to your organs to keep them warm. Warm water reverses the effect by causing the blood to move towards the surface of the skin. Cold shower proponents argue that stimulating the circulatory system in this way keeps them healthier and younger looking than their hot water-loving counterparts.

Cold showers also strengthen the immune system. A study revealed that individuals who took daily cold showers saw an increase in the number of virus-fighting white blood cells compared to individuals who took hot showers. Researchers believe that the increased metabolic rate, which results from the body’s attempt to warm itself up, activates the immune system and releases more white blood cells in response.

Please note that cold showers are not for everyone. People with certain heart conditions should avoid cold showers.

In summary, cold showers strengthen the immune system, improve blood circulation, you sleep better and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression due to endorphin release.

In the near future, I plan to take part in a polar bear dip – a splash into icy waters.

If you have just started taking cold showers or are a veteran – share your experience in the comments section.

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