A contributed post
For most of us, a shower is just part of our daily routine. We jump in the shower to make sure that: we’re clean, we smell good and we look presentable enough to go about our everyday lives in public. Did you know, however, that there are a host of health benefits to showering? And, while a warm shower is decidedly more enjoyable than a cold one, a cold shower is, in fact, far better for our health. To bring you the truth about the rumoured health benefits of showering in cold water, we have packed this blog post with relevant information.
The main – and most widely corroborated – benefit of enduring a stream of freezing cold water is improved circulation. Exposed to low temperatures, the body’s circulatory system has to respond quickly. Under the duress of a cold shower, your body increases the speed with which your muscles are supplied with blood to regulate body temperature, leading to improved cardiovascular health and even a bolstered immune system.
Supports healthy hair and skin
A cold shower can also be great for your hair and skin. Hot water, in general, has a tendency to dry out your skin and scalp, stripping them of the natural oils that are so crucial to healthy hair and skin. In contrast, cold water actually has a beneficial impact on your hair and skin. By tightening and constricting blood flow, it gives your hair and skin a healthy glow. Cold water also helps seal the body’s pores, keeping dirt out.
Reduces swelling and soreness
There’s a reason the ice bath is favoured by so many elite athletes. Andy Murray and Jessica Ennis, two of the UK’s most celebrated sports people, are big proponents of the method. Tennis and the heptathlon share similarly gruelling schedules, where participants are expected to perform at their best on consecutive days. The restorative powers of an ice bath then, are an essential part of a speedy recovery. Freezing cold water helps reduce swelling and soreness in the muscles and a cold shower can have a similarly restorative effect.
While it isn’t strictly-speaking a health benefit, a cold shower will jolt your body into an alert state in the morning. Perfect for sleepy Monday mornings? The shock of the cold water nudges your body into a state of alertness; the body’s fight to keep warm stimulates deep breathing, rapid circulation of blood around the body and a massive intake of oxygen.
Considering changing your diet to lose a few pounds? Why not shower in cold water instead? A New England Journal of Medicine found that incorporating a cold shower into your daily routine can help you shed as many as 500 calories a day.
Fat in the body can be separated into two distinct types: white fat and brown fat. While white fat is easily visible on your body and is tasked with storing energy, brown fat is harder to see: it’s tucked away in the neck and torso and it is its job to generate body heat. When you shower in cold water, your body sheds some of this brown fat to keep you warm.
Helps mental health
Cold showers are so intensive that they have even shown signs of positively affecting mental health. Once exposed to freezing cold water, the body floods the brain with electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings, which, in turn, has an anti-depressive effect. While we aren’t suggesting that a cold shower is a replacement for doctor-ordered treatment, it could well work as a temporary mood booster. Whether it’s anxiety or depression plaguing your thoughts, turn to a cold shower for short-term relief.
Hopefully, over the course of this post, we’ve managed to convince you of the merits of taking a cold shower. And while it is unlikely to become a staple of your daily routine – owing to just how borderline unbearable an experience it is – it might become a weekly or even monthly endeavour, and if it does, your overall health will be all the better for it. To make it as tolerable an experience as possible though, you should at least make sure your shower is working properly. Installing a high quality shower pump is a straightforward way to boost the flow of water from your shower.
Claire Brown is a health fanatic and lover of life, the natural world, and wild blackberries. When she is not researching and writing about health, she plays with her dogs and enjoys the great outdoors with her husband.