It’s time to make friends with the cold. It may be hard to believe but there are quite a few benefits to having a cold shower. The idea of using cold water as a therapy has been around for thousands of years, even after the Greeks developed running hot water for bathing they would still use cold bathing as a mental and physical therapy. Taking a dunk in an icy lake after a sauna is a common activity in Finland and the other Scandinavian countries and Rickson Gracie, a legend in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, would often sit in cold water as part of his training and recovery.
So what benefits might you gain from such a masochistic activity?
The Thrombosis Research Institute of England put out a study with some evidence linking the increase in metabolism due to the body fighting the cold to a stimulation of the immune system, increasing white blood cell activity. The same study also indicates an increase in testosterone, a hormone essential for particularly for men in regard to libido, fertility, strength and energy, but also an essential hormone for similar reason in women.
Many athletes use various cold therapies to aid recovery and reduce inflammation caused by their training. Alternating between hot and cold in the shower can aid circulation as cold water causes your body to restrict blood flow and send it to your organs and away from your extremities and hot water does the opposite.
Taking a cold shower daily can be a cheap (or should I say free) and less harmful (please read the warning at the end) than regularly taking anti-inflammatory pills if you suffer from chronic pain and inflammation.
I recommend you start by having a normal shower and over the course of a week spend the final 15 seconds in a progressively cooler temperature until you are using the coldest possible water.
Then go from spending 15 seconds to 30, then 45, then 1 minute and so on. I have found that once you get used to the cold it is no longer a shock to your body and you can start to actually look forward to the cold!
An extra bonus is that you can save on your water bill as I guarantee you won’t be spending as long in the shower!
BE WARNED: if you suffer from heart disease or high blood pressure then this may not be for you as the shock of using cold water can put extra strain on the heart. Please take extra caution and try doing progressively cooler showers instead of going straight to cold.