Why Do Specialists Recommend Cold Showers?
For most people, the simple thought of taking a cold shower gives them chills – let alone actually doing it. However, numerous studies proved that this practice can provide valuable health benefits. Of course, make sure that you do it safely, as ice-cold water can have the exact opposite impact.
Bianca Beldini, physical therapist in New York, explains that cold temperatures stimulate the vagus nerve. Extreme cold can cause nausea, breathlessness and rapid heartbeat.
The right way to take a cold shower is by actually starting out with warm water; drop the temperature gradually, so that your body can accommodate easily. Already sounds most comfortable, right?
With that in mind, let’s have a look at the most important health benefits provided by cold showers:
Soothing itchy skin
Whether you’re suffering from a skin condition like eczema, allergic reactions, psoriasis or just the occasional sunburn, cold water can do wonders.
Aside from reducing the unpleasant itchiness (at least temporarily), cool water can pacify irritated skin and therefore aid in the recovery process. If you’re not a fan of cold showers, at least do your best to avoid really hot water because it can make your skin even more sensitive.
Stacy Chimento, MD at Riverchase Dermatology, notes that simply taking cold showers cannot treat any of the conditions mentioned above. Therefore, if your symptoms get worse, it’s advisable that you ask a specialist for advice.
Not sure what’s wrong with your skin? Check out our post on 12 Things Your Skin Reveals About Your Health.
Improving gut health
The human gut has a major influence on your immune system, heart, brain functions and even sleep quality; therefore, it’s crucial that we keep it in top shape.
Inna Lukyanovksy, PharmD, functional medicine practitioner, explains that cold showers increase heart rate temporarily in a healthy way. This means that your body will pump blood quicker throughout the body, which improves overall blood circulation. This process aids in detoxification and may even improve digestive tract functions.
Reducing muscle soreness
Anyone who’s worked out at least once knows the struggle with muscle soreness. Aside from adopting a balanced diet and resting well, cold showers can also be helpful for the healing process.
Dr. Beldini says that cold shower or ice baths (not recommended for beginners!) can mitigate the delayed muscle onset soreness (DOMS) reaction. A 2015 study published in Sports Medicine shows that immersing yourself in cold water with temperatures between 51-59 degrees Fahrenheir for 11-15 minutes works best in reducing inflammation.
Improving scalp health
Taking a hot shower is definitely among the most relaxing activities especially after a long day – but your scalp may have a different opinion.
As William Gaunitz, researcher for the structure, function and diseases of human hair since 2002, taking long, hot showers on a daily basis could take away the natural oils which protect the scalp. Not only does this leave the scalp exposed to harmful factors such as pollution, but it also worsens any inflammatory condition you may already have.
Gaunitz adds that any inflammation (think dandruff, psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis) might cause hair loss and prevent healthy hair growth in time. While cold showers weren’t found to prevent hair loss, they help to reduce and prevent inflammation, thus keeping the scalp healthy.
Reducing swelling and puffiness
Sleep is an essential part of cell recovery, so when you don’t get enough it shows – especially on your skin. Once again, taking cold showers can help you diminish the ‘puffiness’ or swelling on your face which is often caused by lack of sleep.
For this technique, you must start with warm water and decrease the temperature as much as you can stand. In order to maximize the positive effects of this technique, try to last at least 30 seconds under the cold water.
- Cold showers should be done gradually, starting with warm water
- Cool water can reduce muscle soreness and inflammation throughout the body
- Your gut health and blood circulation might also be improved
Have you ever tried to take a cold(er) shower? If so, what was your experience with this beneficial activity? Share your stories in the comment section and let’s chat!