What kind of shower makes you shudder? What shower would make even a Tough Mudder reconsider staying dirty?
Image courtesy of: J-Chan
Ugh! The cold shower, but the pain just might be worth the gain! Turns out, cold showers are good for a lot more than just reducing (physical or sexual) fevers– and, since most of us shower regularly, switching to cold bestows health benefits with no additional time investment.
As a tropical girl inconveniently living at 7300 feet in Colorado's Rocky Mountain foothills, I intuitively “get” how cold showers can boost circulation, promote weight loss and increase alertness. Coming in from the cold, as feeling returns to hands and feet, blood throbs into fingers, toes, ears and nose. ( Sometimes violent) shivering must burn a lot of calories and certainly removes any sense of sleepiness for the moment.
The Alternative Daily put together a list of benefits researchers attribute to cold showers. The three that surprised me most are:
1. Enhanced Mood
…while studying the benefits of cold showers, one key molecular biologist found that symptoms of depression were reduced when implemented regularly.
Although the true explanation is highly scientific, in simplest terms, cold water helps flood our brains with neurotransmitters that make us feel happy. This connection has also been found while studying individuals who swim in the winter. In fact, not only did they showcase improved mood, but also enhanced memory and reduced fatigue.
2. Boosted immunity
Once your body hits the cold water, you begin to shiver, activating your metabolic and immune system. Throughout the research, researchers have found that when regularly immersed in cold water, individuals begin to experience an increase in plasma, lymphocytes and T-cells.
…While studying adults, researchers found that those who took cold showers were 29 percent less likely to take sick leave.
When examining more than 3,000 healthy adults, researchers concluded that cold showers enhance immune function. The lead researcher compared this effect to a sprinting exercise. When exposed to the cold water, your blood pressure and heart rate go up, stimulating your lymph and immune system. Based on the way they felt, approximately one-third of the participants said that they will continue taking cold showers in the future.
3. Reduced aches and pains
From aches to chronic pain, cold immersion can help address related symptoms. For those who suffer from high levels of inflammation, introducing cold showers into your regular routine could make a world of difference. This was seen within one key study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology.
Researchers evaluated 121 patients with chronic inflammatory arthritis. Both pain and sleep were assessed, as they often go hand-in-hand. Researchers administered whole-body cold mist showers. In comparison to the control group, the treatment group experienced significant improvements across both measurements.
Of course, taking a cold shower is like “icing” your entire body, so a reduction in aches and pains makes perfect sense!
If you decide to try cold showers, you don't have to go in cold turkey immediately. Many people start with a warm shower and adjust the temperature downward as they bathe. Others opt for a 30-60 second “cold finish” at the end of their shower. As with many things, it's fine to start with what you can do and work toward where you want to be.
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