Are you someone who enjoys a warm shower over an icy cold spray? It might be difficult to reconcile a cold shower with its host of health benefits. You might be surprised what research into cold water therapy has dug up concerning its many perks. It helps to understand these advantages before getting started with this method of cold water therapy. We have gathered the primary cold water benefits to help you make the swap.
Hot to Cold: Getting Started with Cold Exposure
Cold showers aren’t just born out of those minutes after running out of hot water and racing to the finish. Purposefully taking a cold shower allows people to reap many physical and mental benefits, even if it is a bit shocking at first.
Cold showers are one part of the bigger picture of cold therapy. A cold shower experience occurs when the water temperature is below 70°F. You can also utilize contrast therapy to adjust to the shock of cold water smoothly. Contrast therapy involves contrasting temperatures, turning the water from cold back to hot and then cold again, experiencing at least 30 seconds during each segment.
You can use contrast therapy to ease yourself into a cold shower or quickly step in and out to wake yourself up in the morning. However, you decide to do it, taking a cold shower can mean the beginning of many positive health benefits. These can include boosting your immune system and getting better sleep, among others.
In this article, we learn what cold therapy is and examine its advantages from taking cold showers.
What Is Cold Therapy?
Cold water therapy has been around to treat pain, swelling, and weakened immune systems for years. Athletes tend to utilize the methodologies from cold therapy to help boost their recovery, but it can be incredibly effective for anyone to boost their health or reduce pain. It has been around for millennia, with Egyptians being the first to use it to treat pain and inflammation back to 2500 BC.
Cold therapy works to reduce pain by numbing the nerves in contact with the cold water. Swelling is lessened since cold water surrounding the body reduces your blood flow. Other benefits from cryotherapy include mental stimulation and reduced depression symptoms, weight loss, and muscle recovery.
Benefits of Cold Showers
Research is revealing numerous benefits to cold water therapy. Although there is plenty of research still to be done on the specific advantages you can expect from the treatment, there is much that has already been scientifically proven.
Advances Muscle Recovery
Cold water immersion therapy has been found to help relieve heat exertion in an athlete’s body. According to the Journal of Athletic Training, it works to reduce inflammation and relieve hyperthermia, allowing your muscles to recover from exertion faster. The cold effectively slows down your circulation, allowing the heart rate to return to normal faster and reducing the swelling and pain caused by the tiny tears exercise causes in your muscles.
Cold showers reduce pain, from chronic sufferers to temporary recoverers. It can have similar properties to a local anesthetic, numbing nerve endings in particular areas and reducing swelling. The more the water has contact with you, the slower the nerves transmit the brain’s pain signals.
The ability for cold to slow circulation is also beneficial when it comes to pain in many cases. Often, pain caused by diseases like arthritis is eased since it primarily comes from intensive swelling between the joints. A decrease in blood flow simultaneously decreases the swelling while numbing the pain. The two effects working together mean more than a short moment in the cold without pain, reducing it for days to come.
Icy droplets hitting your skin help wake you up, from head to heart. Consistently taking cold showers helps our circulatory system become more efficient and effective. That can lead to better skin and faster recovery time with more oxygenated blood reaching a problematic area. It also specifically helps those with high blood pressure and diabetes.
Reduces Stress and Mental Illness
Mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression are growing in prevalence throughout the western world. Although you can take medication to help reduce your symptoms, the medication itself can cause more problems. A holistic method is to treat increased stress, depression, and anxiety symptoms with cold water therapy. It works similar to gentle electroshock therapy, stimulating your brain with endorphins that lead to feelings of well-being.
Elevates Your Brain’s Function
Similarly, as those little shocks to the brain can trigger a release of endorphins, it also clears away the fog from a night of sleep or a day in the office. Your brain will feel more alert and clear by the end of a cold shower.
Endorphins don’t only help make you more alert. They are mostly known as being “happy hormones.” Endorphins flood your brain with feelings of happiness or satisfaction, similar to the way you feel if you complete a challenging workout. Your mood gets a pick-me-up, and you have the added bonus of feeling clearheaded to experience it.
Stimulates Weight Loss
Among the cold shower benefits that help internally, some also help externally. Cold showers stimulate your metabolism when you take them at least twice a week. However, it is unclear exactly how it has been shown to help people lose weight over time, particularly when paired with other lifestyle changes.
Another theory for cold water therapy as an effective means of weight loss is brown fat. Brown fat is a specialized tissue that becomes activated when the body is cold. It is meant to help control your core temperature and create heat by using normal body fat, burning it faster when you are in a passive position. More research needs to be done to prove its effectiveness, but it is incredibly promising for those struggling with weight and mobility issues.
Cold Water Therapy: What’s Next?
It is incredible how resilient and adaptable the human body is designed. Taking a cold shower 2 to 3 times a week is a great way to reap many benefits. You will be surprised how quickly cold showers start to feel less cold as your body adapts. The next step on the path of cold water therapy is ice baths, the full immersion experience. When you are ready to take those shower benefits up a notch, give an ice bath a try.
Jump On In! The Water’s Cold and Refreshing
Adopting a cold shower or two into your weekly routine can be as easy as turning the facet the other way. It allows you to start your day on a high note, feeling confident and ready to go. What is stopping you from giving a cold shower a try a couple of mornings a week and seeing what benefits you feel?
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