Image Credit: @studiolowsheen
Relaxing? No. But studies say it will make you healthier and happier.
Cold showers may not be your preferred way to start the day, but studies reveal that taking one a day can help make you fitter, slimmer, happier and healthier. Here are 10 reasons it might be worth the “brrrrr” every morning.
Cold showers burn fat
There are two kinds of fat in your body - white and brown fat. White fat forms when we consume more calories than our body needs to function and when we don’t burn those calories for energy, they gather around the waist, lower back, neck, and thighs. Brown fat however is good fat. Its function is to generate heat to keep the body warm. Cold water exposure promotes the production of brown fat cells in our body, and when brown fat is activated due to extreme cold, it burns calories to keep you warm, which in turn, burns the white fat. How effective is this process? Scandinavian researchers found that exposure to cold temperatures increased the metabolic rate of brown fat by 15-fold, which could help a person drop 4 kilos or 9 lbs in a year if sustained.
Cold showers support recovery after exercise
Because cold causes the arteries to constrict, which in turn reduces pain-giving inflammation, athletes often take ice baths after training to ease muscular soreness. For the non-pro athletes, a cold shower after the gym can provide similar soothing benefits for super-fast recovery which means less stiffness, aches and pains.
Cold showers help you focus
Regular cold showers can effectively reduce fatigue. An icy blast boosts blood flow to the heart, increases heart rate, lung function, and oxygen transportation around the body, which in turn, wakes up those alertness-boosting hormones.
Cold showers strengthen immunity and circulation
Because cold water boosts metabolic function, the immune system is also given a kick which allows it to release virus-fighting white blood cells that will help you fight illness. Cold showers also increase your overall blood circulation, which can help you avoid hypertension and the hardening of arteries.
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Cold showers are good for hair and skin
For a complexion to be smooth and dewy, skin must produce oil and fat to lubricate the surface layer. Hot water removes this oil and fat which results in a dry and dehydrated complexion. Cold water however tightens cuticles and pores which stops them becoming clogged. Cold water also closes the hair cuticle which gives hair a gleam and stops dirt accumulating in your scalp.
Cold showers clear the mind
According to researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, cold showers can be effective for reducing stress and anxiety. They asked patients with depression to take short, 20-degree showers daily and reported that “cold hydrotherapy can relieve depressive symptoms rather effectively”. They explained cold showers boosted endorphins and hormones in the blood and sent an “overwhelming” amount of electrical pulses to the brain, “which could result in an anti-depressive effect”.
How to take a cold shower
Swapping your piping hot morning shower to an icy one can be challenging. Because the first 30 seconds are the worst, start your shower warm, then simply switch your water temperature from hot to cold every 10-20 seconds. When you’re feeling brave and have the mental toughness you need to survive the shivering, try a full blast cold shower on for size. At first you might begin to hyperventilate, so use your breathing as an anchor and focus on the physical sensations, rather than on your thoughts. Taking a cold shower is an amazing exercise in mindfulness and non-resistance. And then of course there is all those benefits. Worth the “brrrrrs”? We think so.