When 16-year-old Vinzenz Priessnitz was injured after a fall from his horse, he used a cold compress to heal his wounded chest. Inspired by a doe he’d seen mending an injury in a cold stream, the successful technique drew praise, and hydrotherapy was born. Almost 200 years later Priessnitz’s influence is still felt and people are flocking to cold plunge spas. I’m not trying to imply you’re all hot and bothered, but maybe you should consider taking a cold shower. Check out these 10 cold-shower benefits:
1. Strengthens immunity
Exposure to cold water can strengthen immunity by increasing levels of white blood cells and metabolic rate, which can reduce the odds of contracting colds, the flu and even some cancers.
2. Improves blood circulation
Cold showers improve blood circulation, which can improve overall cardiovascular health and help prevent hypertension, hardening of the arteries and varicose veins.
3. Regulates the body’s temperature
Cold showers can help regulate the body’s temperature, which can activate the body’s repair systems.
4. Stimulates weight loss
All fats are not created equal, when it comes to both what you put in your mouth and what you carry on your body. Cold showers encourage the production of energy-burning brown fat – as opposed to white fat – and can speed up your metabolism.
5. Minimizes depression
In addition to stimulating the body, cold water can also stimulate the brain; as a result, the brain’s source of “noradrenaline” (which can minimize depression) is triggered.
6. Improves lymphatic movement
The lymphatic system plays the important role of removing waste and transporting infection-fighting white blood cells – a process that relies on the contraction of muscles. Cold showers encourage that contraction and help the lymphatic system in its circulation.
7. Deepens breathing
Cold showers open up the lungs and enable deep breathing, which allows the body to take in more oxygen, combating fatigue.
8. Keeps skin and hair healthy
Hot water dries out skin, hair and nails. But cold water can help tighten pores, encourage detoxification (which makes skin glow), and close cuticles (which makes hair healthier and stronger).
9. Increases energy and well-being
Anyone who’s ever taken a cold shower knows just how invigorating it can be. A warm shower is lovely and comforting, of course, but stick with the cold water if you really want to awaken your body and mind.
10. Increases hormone production
If you’re trying to have a baby, get your partner to start taking cold showers. Exposure to heat decreases sperm counts. Hot baths were even used as contraceptive in the 1950s. (Though we’re not really recommending that or any other treatment popular back when doctors were still advertising cigarettes.)
The evidence seems pretty overwhelming, so have we convinced you? Even if you’re not game to go cold right away, start slow and turn down the temperature by a few degrees each time. Or you could always try cold water for the last 30 seconds of your shower and see if there’s any change in how you feel.