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7 Unexpected Health Benefits Of Taking COLD Showers
The next time you think you may be coming down with the flu or common cold, ward off symptoms by turning down the water temperature in your shower!
By: Catie Kovelman, Updated 02/16/2022
Here at Dabl, we want to help you to live a healthy and happy lifestyle. And while we would never wish illness upon you, we are realistic when we say few people make it through cold and flu season without at least catching a mild version of the common cold. And we are officially in the heart of cold, flu, and now corona season. Due to lockdown orders in 2021 that prevented the spread of COVID-19, which still has variants of its own making the rounds, the flu is supposed to be particularly nasty this year. Because the flu didn’t spread as it normally would last year, society is lacking the normal herd immunity that typically helps keep influenza in check.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should give up on trying to stay healthy and resign yourself to getting sick. While many people do become ill during this time of year, we have a unique solution that you might not expect to help strengthen your immune system and help you recover faster if you do become sick: Cold showers. Believe it or not, cold showers will help you stay healthier overall, mitigate your symptoms, and take less sick days!
When you are plagued with cold symptoms, the last thing on your mind is probably hopping into a cold shower. Since cold water immersion doesn’t always come with the most pleasant sensations, you’ve probably only ever done it out of desperation to beat the Summer heat or lower your body temperature when you have a fever. Or maybe you’ve heard of athletes taking cold showers to reduce muscle soreness after intense workouts or training sessions. Since cold water has regenerative properties, it can help muscles relax and repair themselves after undergoing strenuous exercise. That said, cold showers have so many more health benefits and we’re breaking them all down for you, starting with how cold showers can help you survive the rest of cold and flu season!
Beat Cold and Flu Season.
Speaking of cold and flu season, cold showers have a surprising number of health benefits that can help you mitigate uncomfortable cold symptoms and work toward disease prevention. If you are sick, a cool or lukewarm shower can help you break your fever. However, you have to be careful to not let yourself get too cold, as it’s harder than normal for you to warm back up when you’re sick, especially if you have wet hair. That said, cool or lukewarm showers can help you break fevers when used with caution.
As far as nausea is concerned, the sudden change in body temperature may help decrease nausea. When people feel like they might throw up, their body temperature usually rises and they may feel panicked. Applying a cold compress to your face or neck or jumping in a cool shower can sometimes shock the system into quickly alleviating your nausea and making you feel more comfortable.
Instead of only using cold showers to treat symptoms, you can incorporate them into your daily routine to prevent yourself from falling ill in the first place. Research shows that people who take cold showers at least a few times a week are less likely to catch colds or the flu. One study even found that cold showers may also make people less susceptible to some types of cancer. This is likely because the shock of cold water in the bloodstream stimulates blood flow and the production of leukocytes, which are a type of blood cell that is instrumental to your immune system in fighting infections and diseases.
Improve your mental health.
If you suffer from panic attacks or anxiety, you know it’s easy to work yourself up and a lot harder to calm down. In the moment, you can feel terror, dread, horror, fear, like you may be sick or dying, or many other emotions at once. Some therapists refer to these rising feelings as your emotional thermometer rising. They describe it visually to patients as their emotional temperature is rising like mercury rises in a thermometer on a hot day. Even though your emotional thermometer is a metaphor, physically changing the temperature by exposing yourself to cold water can shock your system enough to stop a panic attack in its tracks and help you feel better quickly.
Similarly, including cold showers as part of a regimen to treat clinical depression has been promising in early research studies. Cold showers are shown to activate the sympathetic nervous system and release endorphins in the brain that help boost your mood. Cold showers seem to act as hydrotherapy or a gentle form of electroshock therapy, which jolts the system to feel more alert and energetic. Ultimately, preliminary data shows a correlation between cold showers and higher feelings of optimism and well-being in people who suffer from depression.
Help your muscles after a workout.
You don’t have to be a professional athlete to treat your muscles to a cold shower after an intense day at the gym. Cold showers, or showers where the water temperature is below 70°F, can reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cold showers are useful for decreasing inflammation in your muscles, joins, and tendons. During exercise, microscopic tears may occur in your muscles as you push yourself and get stronger. So in a way, taking a cold shower after your workout is like icing an injury. In turn, this lessens or prevents pain and soreness.
Cold showers benefit your skin.
While hot showers may feel good, they can be extremely harsh on your skin. Unlike hot showers, cold showers don’t dry out your skin or remove natural fats and protective oils that your skin needs to stay healthy. Since cold showers are gentler, they can also be effective for calming itchiness caused by allergies, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions. They also help close pores and give your skin a smooth and healthy appearance. Last but not least, the cold water simulates an exposure to harsh conditions, which helps improve your skin’s natural resiliency and endurance when exposed to stress.
Reinvigorate your hair.
Over time, cold showers can help your hair become stronger, healthier, and shinier. Cold water is ideal because it doesn’t dry out the sebum layer, which is a naturally lubricated barrier that provides protection for your hair. Instead, cold water helps lock in moisture and close your hair cuticles. This allows your hair to reflect more light and appear extra shiny and beautiful. In addition, cold water tightens your cuticles to your scalp, which helps anchor your hair in place and reduces unwanted hair loss.
Cold showers may help you lose weight.
While the research is still a bit unclear, cold showers seem to be a natural way to boost your metabolism. This is because cold showers seem to activate a healthy type of fat called brown fat. When stimulated, brown fat tissue generates energy in the body by rapidly burning calories. Therefore, cold showers may be a useful tool for helping you along in your weight loss journey when paired with a healthy lifestyle.
Cold showers simply make you feel good.
Once you get past the initial shock of the cold water on your skin, cold showers simply make you feel good both in and out of the shower. The cold water can be invigorating and improve circulation throughout the body. It can leave you feeling more awake and alert, which helps you be focused and productive at work or at home. As mentioned above, cold showers also cause your body to release happy endorphins that help provide you with lasting feelings of positivity and optimism.