Although it doesn’t sound particularly inviting to plunge into freezing cold water, there have been plenty of studies, reports and experiments to prove the health and wellbeing advantages of having a regular cold shower or bath.
Our article below explores some of the most common benefits of cold showers, and we’ve linked through to more in-depth features and research findings for you to browse at your leisure.
So how can a cold shower or bath help our mind, body and spirit?
Boosts circulation and energy
During a cold shower, your blood will flow more quickly, pushing blood cells to your organs to keep them at the right temperature. This can help boost your energy and perk up your mood. The shock of the cold water will also increase your oxygen intake and heart rate, making you more alert and awake. According to Healthline, as the cold water hits your body, the circulation to the surface is constricted, causing blood in your deeper tissues to circulate at a faster rate to keep your body temperature at its ideal level.
Increases motivation, focus and productivity
The stimulation from a cold shower can also help to increase your motivation. In an experiment published by Prevention, the cold shower experience was reported to enhance focus and willpower, making the participant much more motivated and productive for the rest of the day. A cold shower can also help lower the level of cortisol in the body – known as the ‘fight or flight’ hormone – helping you to cope better in pressured or stressful situations.
A potential aid to recovery
It is well-known that athletes and sportspeople are accustomed to taking ice water baths, particularly when recovering from injuries. Cold water treatment is often used to reduce muscle pain after a training session or when taking part in competitions, as well as decreasing fatigue. Known as cold water immersion, or CWI, the icy water is believed to constrict blood vessels and flush waste products out of the tissues, decrease metabolic activity, as well as reducing inflammation, swelling and tissue breakdown. According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, CWI induces significant physiological and biochemical changes to the body.
Improves the condition of your skin and hair
The Marion Institute states that cold showers are valuable for the skin and complexion, as the cold water helps to close the pores, therefore preventing external air-borne substances such as dust, dirt and pollution from entering your skin. It has also been shown that cold water helps to nourish the skin cells by stimulating and improving blood flow, therefore carrying essential nutrients and oxygen to the skin layers. This in turn can give you a more radiant and healthy complexion, and even help to reduce the skin aging process.
It has long been thought that rinsing your hair in cold water after shampooing can improve the condition of your hair. Unlike hot water, using cold or tepid water does not strip your hair of its natural oils. It also helps to close the hair cuticles, reduces damage to keratin and helps to retain moisture in the hair strands. Furthermore, as cold water boosts your circulation, it also improves blood flow to the scalp, encouraging hair regrowth.
Enhances the mood and helps fight depression
As mentioned above, the low temperature of a cold shower activates the sympathetic nervous system, releasing hormones and chemicals to aid you in combating stress. According to Science Direct, exposure to the cold is known to increase the blood level of beta-endorphin and noradrenaline, and to heighten the release of noradrenaline in the brain. The report concludes that because of the high density of cold receptors in the skin, “a cold shower is expected to send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which could result in an anti-depressive effect”.
Helps to reduce body fat
Although not proven to reduce weight, exposure to cold showers may help to recruit more brown fat cells in the body. When brown fat burns, it creates heat without shivering – a process called thermogenesis. During this process, the brown fat also burns calories. According to Healthline, research has suggested that cold temperatures, such as a daily cold shower, may be able to convert more fat to brown cells.
Saves money and lowers household bills
The Waterwise website states that around 20% of a typical home’s gas heating bill comes from heating up water for showers, baths and hot water taps. So it’s obvious that if we start to consume less hot water by taking cold or cooler showers – as well as decreasing their duration – we can save ourselves a considerable amount on our household energy bills. Not only is this good for our bank balance, but it’s also kinder for the planet. With Aqualisa Smart Showers, the temperature of your shower can be pre-set on installation. You can also use the Aqualisa App to select the flow rate, temperature and length of each family member’s shower, to keep a close eye on costs and help you live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
In summary, there’s a huge range of benefits to choosing a cold or cooler shower as part of our daily schedule, from enhancing our mood to saving us money. Although there are multiple positive health, lifestyle and wellbeing factors, it’s important to note that extreme temperatures can also be harmful, so it’s always best to check with a medical expert before changing your normal routine to avoid potential risks.