Monday, September 28, 2020

The Health Benefits of Taking Cold Showers

There are a number of huge benefits to taking cold showers. This might be a bitter pill to swallow, but if you can bring yourself to stand under cold water for a few minutes first thing in the morning, then you will be able to attack the day with increased energy, focus, willpower, and drive. And if you can do this repeatedly for many mornings in a row, then you will increase your testosterone, become more resilient to illness, and even feel warmer throughout the day!

In this post, you’ll learn all about the benefits of taking cold showers and why this is something everyone should be doing for their health.

Cold Showers Increase Focus and Alertness

When you step under a cold shower, you will find yourself feeling immediately more awake and alert. This is why a cold shower can be so useful as part of a “morning routine” to help you start the day right.

If you normally can’t function before you’ve had your morning cup of coffee, then try taking an icy cold shower first instead and you’ll likely get similar results.

There are actually two big reasons that showers are so effective at waking us up. The first is that they trigger a physiological stress response. That is to say, that the cold water threatens to lower our body temperature and your body sees this as a threat. As far as evolution is concerned, you probably just fell into an ice cold lake and you’re now in danger!

As such, your sympathetic nervous system kicks into gear by raising your heart rate, increasing blood flow to your muscles and brain, contracting muscle, and generally preparing your body to swim for its life.

This kind of short term stress is not harmful, but is ideal for helping you to get out of the sleep inertia state you probably feel first thing in the morning1.

The other mechanism through which a cold shower can kickstart your day, is something known as the mammalian diving reflex. This is another evolutionary response that is triggered specifically when we plunge our face into cold water. We actually have a huge density of tiny receptors on our face that are specifically designed for this purpose! This reflex is designed to help us survive underwater and works like a calmer version of the response we just described. Many people find this state almost euphoric, and it’s ideal for getting more work done and forgetting yesterday’s stresses2!

Cold Showers Are Fantastic for Building Will-Power

Navy Seals are renowned for their incredible levels of mental toughness. That is to say that they are able to put themselves through hell (one week of their training is literally called hell week) due to their sheer discipline and mastery over their emotions3. This is something that most of us struggle to relate to. Most of us are so used to being comfortable and having all of our needs met, that we find it extremely difficult to then face up to any challenge that might come our way. Heating broken? You’re probably paralyzed with frustration and stress! You should seriously try Hell Week…

So how do you get the kind of mental toughness that makes you resilient to any kind of challenge that life can throw at you? How do you build indominatable will that lets you stick to any task with dogged determination?

One option is simply to get comfortable being uncomfortable: to practice putting yourself through things that you really would rather not do – without causing any injury or danger to yourself.

One of the very best ways to accomplish this is by taking regular cold showers. The sheer amount of will power it requires for you to stand under that cold water when you’ve just woken up, and to stay there while you get washed, is enough in many cases to develop the kind of grit and fortitude that most people these days simply don’t have anymore.

And when you become unflappable and capable of sticking at any task… then anything is possible!

Cold Showers Boost Your Immune System

We often think of the cold as being the enemy of our immune systems. In fact though, this couldn’t be further from the truth!

What is true, is that the cold reduces our immune system in the short term. When you take a cold shower for instance, all the blood and energy your body has to spare is routed to your muscles and your brain to get you ready for action. This means that the immune system is getting less blood flow than it normally would.

If this were to go on for a long time – as it might do in cases of chronic stress – then you would eventually become likely to get ill.

BUT if you only endure this type of experience for short durations, then you’ll find that it can actually be a good thing. The best way to think about this is as being similar to weight training. If you lifted heavy weights every hour, then your body would break down and collapse. But by lifting weights just a few times a week, you give your body to recover and to come back stronger. This is precisely what happens when you take cold showers: by forcing your body to survive with a suppressed immune system, you actually strengthen that immune system and help it to become stronger and more efficient under normal circumstances.

Cold Showers Increase Testosterone and Fertility

Guys may be aware that getting their testes too warm is not particularly good for their chances of becoming Fathers. Thus, it’s important to think carefully before using a laptop on your lap for a long period of time!

It follows then, that by staying cool, you can have the opposite effect. And this is indeed true: taking cold showers is very good for increasing your sperm count and fertility as a man, and it can also raise testosterone levels over time.

Testosterone is very important for men, as it helps to increase the positive form of aggression (making men more assertive, confident, and charismatic), not to mention developing additional physical strength, lowering body fat, and raising energy levels.

There is actually an epidemic of low testosterone among modern men4. This is something that is often not discussed, but it has resulted in many men being constantly lethargic, obese, depressed, and weak. Anything you can do to reverse this process should be considered very good indeed!

Cold Showers Improve Thermal Regulation

Here’s an aspect of your health you probably hadn’t thought about much: thermal regulation. How good is your body at keeping itself the right temperature at all times?

Believe it or not, your body actually goes through many different changes in response to varying temperature. For example, when you are very hot, your blood vessels will rise to the surface of your skin, thereby exposing them more closely to the elements and cooling the blood. Conversely, when you are very cold, your blood vessels will burrow deeper beneath your skin in order to help warm your blood – and your organs – back up to a reasonable temperature.

Other actions that can help control thermoregulation include shivering in order to expend energy, sweating, and more.

Why worry about thermoregulation? Apart from anything else, this can help you to feel more comfortable throughout the day. Constantly feeling too hot or too cold? Struggle to get to sleep at night? Improving your body’s natural thermoregulation may well provide the answer.

Thermoregulation may also be one of the best things you can do for your sleep in general. New research suggests that temperature is one of the key factors in determining when we fall asleep and how deeply we sleep5.

At the same time, thermoregulation has also been suggested to be useful for athletes and may even provide the edge in a competition!

For all these reasons, using cold showers to effectively train your body’s ability to quickly alter its temperature might be extremely valuable.

Cold Showers Reduce Inflammation

What do you do when you bruise a limb or perhaps sprain a joint? Simple: you place an ice pack on the area.

Whether or not this is a good idea is actually now considered contentious. That’s because inflammation is considered a normal part of the healing process and is responsible not only for healing and repairing tissue, but also preventing infection. Inflammation is a normal response that has evolved to be a certain way6.

BUT many of us also experience another kind of inflammation that is not so friendly. This is chronic inflammation that is caused by pro-inflammatory cytokines. This type of inflammation has been linked with brain fog, depression, anxiety, joint pain, and a host of other health issues. Taking cold showers may be a useful way to reduce this form of inflammation, and thus help us to perform more optimally throughout the day.

Conclusion

In conclusion then, a cold shower might be a tough thing to face in the morning, but if you can grit your teeth and get through it, you’ll find it’s also highly invigorating! This is a powerful way to transform your mind, body, and general health, and it could well be the key to unlocking great things in your life.

Finding it too tough? Then you could always attempt the Wim Hof7 technique and see if his powerful breathing strategy helps you to overcome the biting cold!

  1. Sleep inertia – Wikipedia
  2. The Mammalian Diving Reflex – Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science
  3. Mental Toughness: Think Like a Navy SEAL/Spartan Warrior
  4. Testosterone Week: The Benefits of Optimal Testosterone
  5. What You Can Learn From Hunter-Gatherers’ Sleeping Patterns
  6. Influence of icing on muscle regeneration after crush injury to skeletal muscles in rats
  7. Learn Everything You Need to Know About the Wim Hof Method