If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen – and into a cold shower.
With a good chunk of the country currently experiencing a heat wave and sweltering under hot and humid temperatures, taking a cold shower sounds like a reasonable idea. A form of hydrotherapy – the therapeutic use of water – cold showers are nothing new. In fact, they were common practice in the ancient world. In ancient Egypt, people would often have jugs of cold water poured out over them. Nowadays, we tend to associate cold showers with cooling down when sexually aroused. But while the debate rages on as to whether or not this benefit is fact or fiction, here are a few benefits of cold showers that are worth considering.
According to Statistics Canada’s 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) on Mental Health, 5.4% of the population aged 15 and over reported symptoms that met the criteria for a mood disorder like depression. Cold showers improve mood and boost energy through the release of endorphins, also known as happiness hormones. In a clinical trial, taking a cold shower at 20°C for two to three minutes once or twice daily has shown to help relieve symptoms of depression.
Soothe sore muscles
Working out is hard to do, especially when sore muscles are a factor. Cryotherapy, the use of extreme cold for medical purposes, is a preferred treatment for professional athletes (and those who aspire to be just like them) to relieve muscle soreness and speed up recovery post-workout. If taking a plunge in a freezing cold cryotherapy chamber is not your style, a cold shower or bath can have a similar effect. A study found that a 24-minute cold bath with a water temperature of 10 to 15 degrees Celsius is effective when it comes to soothing sore muscles one to four days after exercising.
Healthier hair and skin
It’s hard not to get sucked in by the latest beauty fads claiming to promote healthier skin and hair. But what if we could achieve that healthy, youthful look by simply stepping into a cold shower? Hot water dries out our skin by stripping it of its natural oils while cold water increases circulation, temporarily tightens skin and seals pores. For stronger, shinier hair, cold water also does the trick. “The cold will flatten the ruffled cuticles and lock in moisture to prevent breakage,” says Dr. Jessie Cheung, a Chicago-based dermatologist.
Strengthened immune system
We could all use some extra help when it comes to waging war against sickness and disease. Cold showers offer us a new weapon in our arsenal as bursts of cold water have been shown to help strengthen the immune system. According to an article in the March-April 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review, 3,000 Dutch volunteers were asked to either finish their morning showers with 30-, 60- or 90-second blasts of cold water, or to shower as they normally did, for 30 days. Researchers then analyzed the data and found that on average, people who took cold showers were absent from work 29 per cent fewer days than those in the control group. That’s a direct correlation between cold showers and fewer sick days.
Cold showers for beginners
Get in the shower and rinse with water at your usual temperature, then step away from the flow of water and lather up your body with soap. Next, turn the temperature down as many notches as you can handle until it’s nice and cold. Now you’re ready to jump back into the flow of water and rinse off. It’s a bit of a shock to the system at first, but if you can brave the chill for at least 60 seconds, you’ll feel amazing when you get out and the effects will linger long after your shower has ended.
Take a cold shower today and you’ll literally feel the benefits raining down on you.