Is the idea of hopping in a cold bath or shower completely unappealing? You’re not alone. But, while most people favor a hot or warm shower, this is a fairly new norm. For most of human history, using hot water for bathing was a luxury. Instead, people made due by cleaning themselves in frigid ponds and streams or using other readily-accessible water sources.
And in societies where hot water was publicly available—places like ancient Greece and Rome? Many people still preferred to bathe in cold water. Why? It turns out that exposing your body to chilly water has some surprisingly—and very powerful—health benefits, including:
Increased Energy: Stepping into a cold shower instantly ramps up your heart rate, and the rush of blood through your body will quickly wake you up. You might even find that a few minutes under cold water is just as effective as a piping hot cup of coffee.
Natural Depression Treatment: Research from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine revealed short cold showers can activate the “blue spot” in a person’s brain. This area is the brain’s main source of noradrenaline, a leading feel-good chemical known for relieving feelings of depression.
Faster Recovery for Athletes: After a strenuous workout, it’s common for athletes to relax in an ice bath. Not only does this numb them to any post-workout pain, but the cold water reduces inflammation and speeds up the recovery process. You can get similar benefits from taking a chilly shower after intense training sessions.
Healthy Skin and Hair: Does your hair or skin feel extra dry after a long, hot shower? It’s not uncommon. Hot water strips moisture from your skin and hair almost instantly. To avoid this moisture loss, turn down the temperature when you jump in the shower—your hair and skin will look and feel a lot better in the long run.
Increased Testosterone: File this one under strange but true. Taking cold showers has been linked to a stronger sex drive in men. Prolonged exposure to cold water has also been shown to increase testosterone production, boosting the libido and enhancing overall strength and energy in the process. Likewise, cold showers keeps the body at a cooler temperature which may increase sperm counts.
Better Circulation: Good cardiovascular health depends on getting enough blood pumping through your veins. An easy way to boost your circulation? Alternate between hot and cold water in the shower. While cold water causes your blood to move towards your organs to conserve heat, warm water brings it to the surface of your skin instead.
The Secret to a Health-boosting Cold Shower
What’s the best way to get the benefits of cold water exposure? Turning the water to freezing and hopping in isn’t always effective. Not only is it unpleasant, but you’ll probably jump out of the shower before your body gets any benefits. Instead, start off with hot water and slowly adjust the temperature until it’s cold but tolerable. Spend at least five minutes under the water before getting out to enjoy the health and energy boost all day long.