When I was younger I had a friend whose father took cold showers every day. I remember thinking it sounded like the most godawful thing in the world. But for the past 2 months I’ve been taking cold showers myself, and I have no plans on turning back anytime soon.
Why the change in heart? I recently came across some of the research on the medical benefits of taking 5 minute cold showers, and what I read was astounding. Some of the benefits of cold showers include:
- Improved circulation. In an attempt to protect your internal organs from the drop in temperature, your body sends more blood to those locations. Increased blood flow strengthens your heart and circulatory system as a whole.
- Increased metabolism. In addition to pumping up the blood volume, cold showers force your body to burn more calories. This not only gives you a boost in energy, but also activates and increases the hormones found in brown fat. Brown fat is good. It’s what generates heat in your body. More brown fat means you can burn more white fat, the bad fat that accumulates around our midsections. Some researchers have claimed that cold showers alone could help a person lose up to 9 lbs in a year.
- Improved immunity. Cold showers increase your white blood cell count. Researchers in Britain have theorized that the body’s attempt to warm up also triggers the immune system, which accounts for the increased white blood cells. Additionally, researchers have found that, over time, regular cold showers make your body more resilient to oxidative stress. That means your body will handle shocks to its system (like disease) much more efficiently.
- Improved appearance of skin and hair. Hot water saps your skin and hair of essential oils. Cold water helps retain those oils, which equals healthier looking skin and hair.
- Improved mood. Researchers theorized that a lack of sudden swings in temperature (such as we experience in a cold shower) actually hinders brain function. Knowing that cold showers cause the body to release beta-endorphins and non-adrenaline, they tested the affect cold showers would have on symptoms of depression. The sample group was small, but the result were positive. Cold water treatment appears to enhance mood and decrease anxiety.
- Increased self-discipline. One of the articles I looked at complained about how no other internet sources trumpeted this benefit of cold showers, but no need to worry about that here at Modern Kalokagathia. I can testify from personal experience that it takes no small amount of courage and will power to knowingly step into a stream of cold water. If you take cold showers regularly it will get slightly easier, but it has yet to become remotely pleasant for me, but that’s okay. Enduring small hardships builds resilience, and you’ll have the added benefit of starting your day feeling like the warrior you are.