Why Cold Showers?
Short bursts of cold water have some pretty astonishing health benefits. Cold water hydrotherapy has been used in high-end spas for years to invigorate, close up pores and brighten the skin. Cold water therapy has also been used for thousands of years in traditional systems of healing such as Kundalini Yoga. The benefits of cold showers have been confirmed by recent scientific research, which shows that short bursts of cold stress can combat fatigue, stress and immune dysfunction. But don’t worry, you won’t have to endure a full 15-minute cold shower!
Promote Immune Function
Cold showers aren’t just a remedy for sexual frustration. Short periods of cold stress, like what you’ll get from a 1- to 3-minute burst of cold at the end of your shower, are a highly effective way to stimulate the immune system. According to scientists, daily cold stress for short periods increases anti-tumor activity. Another study showed that cold stress for up to 2 hours (brrrr!) boosted participants’ immune function, rather than suppressing it — especially when followed by heat or exercise.
Decrease Muscle Pain
Cold showers and baths or alternating warm- and cold-water treatments, have long been a strategy used by athletes to remove lactic acid from the muscles and prevent soreness. Research shows that cold-water baths and showers ranging between 50 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit dramatically decrease muscle pain, muscle damage, and fatigue after workouts. If you suffer from chronic pain of any sort, trying alternating hot and cold showers or baths is an effective way to reduce inflammation and manage pain.
Cold-water therapy is also being researched for its antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects, so it’s no wonder a few minutes of cold water at the end of your shower feels so uplifting! Cold-water showers also stimulate your circulatory system, as your body attempts to warm the skin, which causes your heart to pump more rapidly, in effect working out those important cardiac muscles. This improves circulation and overall cardiac function. Moving blood to the periphery also supports clear thinking (blood to the brain is a good thing!) and improves circulatory problems such as Reynaud’s disease and some types of peripheral neuropathy.
Tips for Taking Cold Showers
Pressed for time in your morning routine? A short burst of cold water at the end of your shower is an easy way to put some pep in your step, and it gives your hair and skin a fresh, brighter look. The prospect of that cold water may seem very daunting. But I challenge you to try just 30 seconds of cold water at the end of your shower for one week. You might be surprised to find that regular brief cold showers can actually improve your overall energy and vitality.
Amy Myszko is a Certified Clinical Herbalist and Certified Lactation Counselor and has been practicing herbalism and nutrition since 2007. She recently graduated with a master’s degree in Lactation and is pursuing a career as a Holistic Lactation Therapist.