Have you ever disliked doing something but did it anyway because you knew how beneficial it would be? Eating your vegetables as a kid (or maybe even as an adult), choosing to work out when you’re tired, going to work instead of wanting to sleep in, or even graduating from university with a certain degree over another less lucrative degree?
Well, that’s how I felt about cold showers or ice baths at first. It was rough. People even asked me if I were human. “Che, do you hate yourself or something?”
For the record, no. I don’t hate myself. In fact, part of the reason why I was taking cold showers was because I love myself and wanted to treat my body better by giving it all the benefits of a cold shower!
What most of them didn’t know was that one unconventional way to lose fat is by exposing yourself to cold temperatures such as a cold shower. People know that energy expenditure uses calories. It’s less obvious to people that, when cold, the body burns calories in order to raise body heat to regular temperatures. Therefore, by purposely exposing oneself to cold for short periods of time, it’s possible to burn off extra calories while also specifically losing fat (more on this below).
However, cold showers deliver other benefits as well. The more you can remember and are mindful of these benefits, the easier it is to stick to taking cold showers until it becomes a habit.
If you’ve been in cold water before or have taken cold showers, you’ll know that the cold jolts you awake and you’ll feel the need to breathe more. This increases your oxygen intake. In response, your heart rate will increase, which results in a rush of blood through the body. As a result, you’ll feel more alert.
Hair and skin
Hot water has the tendency to dry out one’s skin. One the other hand, cold water tightens pores, which prevents them from getting clogged, which means you’ll have healthier looking skin. Cold showers can also make your hair appear shinier, stronger, and healthier by flattening hair follicles. In terms of how you look, water seems to have an anti-aging effect in general.
Cold water seems to be good for your immune system. This is due to more circulation leading to arteries pumping blood more efficiently.
In terms of cold exposure and fat loss, it’s important to understand that there are two types of fat: white fat and brown fat. The white fat accumulates when we eat more calories than our body needs to function (this is the body fat that people are trying to lose). The brown fat is good fat, which generates heat in order to keep our bodies warm. This is activated when you are exposed to cold, and burns energy instead of storing it.
Reduces muscle soreness and improves recovery time
It’s been known that athletes take ice baths to improve recovery. Cold showers can do the same.
Cold exposure seems to be linked to improving stress tolerance as well.
Studies show that cold exposure stimulates the brain’s primary use of noradrenaline, which is a chemical that is linked to treating depression.
Increases testosterone, increases sperm count
Hot baths seem to reduce testosterone, while cold baths seem to do the opposite.
Note: As a woman taking a cold shower, don’t worry about this so much. It’s not like taking a cold shower will turn you into a man. If this were the case, rural areas in cold regions would have significantly manlier looking women.
Saves money (and time)
When people switch to cold showers, they tend to take shorter showers. You’re saving up on the electric bill, which is another incentive to change over. If you pay for water, you’re probably saving up by taking shorter showers too.
Taking Cold Showers: Ten Suggestions
1: Spend five to ten minutes in the shower at most. Staying for too long doesn’t help as much since your body needs to return to a regulated temperature in order to function properly.
2: Cold showers do, in fact, get easier to handle over time. It took me about a week to adjust before cold showers started feeling pleasant. Whereas warm showers felt nice during the actual shower, cold showers felt nice after I was done (the feeling is hard for me to describe, but you’ll see what I mean).
3: Cold baths are fine too, but the downside to cold baths is that you need to wait for the tub to fill up (can’t you tell I get impatient when it comes to some things?).
4: Switching to cold showers doesn’t mean you never take another hot shower in your life. An alternative way to think about it is that you take a cold shower in the morning. Following that, any other showers you take during the day can be warm and you’ll still benefit from that cold shower.
5: From a logistical standpoint, it’s very easy to implement because people regularly take showers anyway. Similarly to changing the food you eat, you’re already showering at least once per day. Logistically, this means that you don’t have to take time out of your day to take a cold shower, whereas you may have to take time out of the day to work out.
6: Cold showers do take some form of mental strength and willpower to get started though. Hopefully thinking of all the benefits you can get from a cold shower will help you make the habit stick.
7: If you need some form of action to work with, here’s an idea: start with rinsing your whole body. Then, step out of the shower and use shampoo/soap. Step back in and rinse off. Count to 100 seconds while facing the shower, then count to 100 seconds facing away from the shower. Finally, count to 50 seconds for your left and your right side. That adds up to 300 seconds, or five minutes. It’s okay to swear or grunt in the shower so long as you’re okay with explaining to your roommates or family what’s going on so they’re not worried.
8: They become more bearable over time.
9: They become more bearable over time.
10: They become more bearable over time. Did I hammer this point home yet already?
Best of luck in (sometimes literally) freezing your ass off!