You may not like the feeling of freezing water, but you may want to take cold showers. There are many health benefits of ice-cold showers that can improve certain aspects of your life. Even for as little as 30 seconds, there are cold shower benefits.
The most effective cold water needs to be at a temperature around 59°F (15°C), according to Healthline. Some improvements can be achieved in as little as 30 seconds under a cold water stream, according to the Cleveland Clinic, and “the potential benefits of the cold water session begin to ebb after three minutes.”
Improve Recovery After A Workout
You’ve seen professional athletes chilling in an ice bath as part of their post-game routine. Freezing cold water therapy can help the body recover from a rigorous exercise workout and reduce muscle soreness.
Dr. Edward Laskowski – a professor of physical medicine, rehabilitation, and orthopedics at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and former co-director of Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine – told Newsweek, “In general, cold helps to aid recovery after an exercise session.” Laskowski added that studies show ice baths help to reduce inflammation, swelling, and “delayed onset muscle soreness” stemming from exercise. He noted that cold showers are “a gentler and easier way” of receiving the same health benefits from an ice bath.
A 2019 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research examined the effects of cold water showers (CWS) on the recovery from high-intensity cycling in the heat.
“This study examined the effects of a CWS on heart rate (HR), core temperature (Tc), salivary cortisol, and thermal comfort sensation (TCS) after exercise in the heat. Nine healthy male subjects (age, 21 ± 1 year) performed 45 minutes of cycling in a hot environment (35° C, 40-60% relative humidity) at 65% of peak oxygen uptake,” the description of the study states. “However, CWS can promote TCS by facilitating a faster HR recovery after 30-minute postintervention compared with passive recovery. The cooling benefits of a CWS could be only recommended to reduce cardiac stress after routine workout in a hot environment.”
A report from the Wexner Medical Center of the Ohio State University stated, “The ice bath and the compression from the water pressure cause constriction of blood vessels. This has been suggested as a mechanism that helps with the flushing of waste products, such as lactic acid, and reducing fluid accumulation from the affected tissue.”
An analysis of 99 studies conducted in 2018 discovered that exposure to cold water was effective at reducing muscle soreness and fatigue after physical exercise.
The cold causes your blood vessels and arteries to constrict – which means that blood flow is restricted around the body. Regular cold showers narrow the blood vessels and force your circulatory system to run more efficiently and effectively. A drop in blood flow decreases swelling.
“As blood travels away from the skin, blood vessels in deeper body tissues dilate,” according to Medical News Today. “This improves circulation in the deeper tissues.”
Make Skin Healthier
The cold showers purportedly increase the level of oxygenated blood to help problematic areas, including your skin. “One key benefit is the cold water can soothe itchy skin, plus taking a hot shower every day can dry out parts of your skin,” Healthline reported.
Dr. Vipul Rustgi, MBBS MD Medicine, told Health Shots, “Hot water bathing during those chilly days can dry out the skin, leading to skin irritation and rashes. One will even suffer from dandruff issues. A cold shower tends to tighten the cuticles and pores, preventing them from getting clogged. Are you aware? It can also seal pores in the skin and scalp, and prevent the dirt from getting in. Hence, the natural oils won’t get stripped from the skin.”
The Mayo Clinic’s Laskowski added, “Cold showers also do not dry out the more superficial skin layers, which hot water can, and consequently can help the skin maintain good hydration status.”
A cold shower reportedly boosts your metabolism as it works hard to keep the body warm, but there is no proof that it can lead to sustained weight loss.
The Harvard Business Review reported, “Cold temperatures make you shiver — an autonomous response to keep your body temperature up. It involves a neuroendocrine effect and triggers our fight-or-flight response, causing hormones like cortisol to increase, shortly before we shift to a relaxation response. Moreover, cold temperatures activate the brown — or good — fat in the body.”
Enhance Immune System
Dr. Geert Buijze – an orthopedic surgeon at Academic Medical Center, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Netherlands – conducted a study of 3,000 participants who finished their morning showers with a 30-, 60-, or 90-second blast of cold water for 30 consecutive days.
“This is the first high-level evidence showing that cold showers can benefit your health,” Buijze said. “People who took them for at least 30 seconds for one month called in sick 29% less than our control group — and 54% less if they also engaged in regular physical exercise.”