Wellness tip: benefits of a short cold shower
History of Cold Showers
In recent years, reality TV show hosts and TikTok creators have popped up, touting the benefits of cold water immersion on our physical and mental health. But the practice of using cold water therapy has existed for thousands of years. Ancient Greek and Roman accounts of using cold water for therapeutic purposes date back as far as 3500 bc. And since the 1960s there has been research into the benefits of cold water immersion as a post workout recovery strategy. But not everyone has access to a cold body of water to submerge themselves into regularly, so these days, experts recommend the benefits of short cold showers.
Benefits of Cold Water
Researchers have found that cold water stimulates our bodies for multiple mental and physical health benefits. So, how does it work?
Dr. Mark Hyman writes about hot and cold treatments to improve longevity. In his new book Young Forever he talks about the science of hormesis - which is the low dose of something that would be harmful in high doses, in order to change homeostasis. According to Hyman, hormesis, "is this idea that little stress that we give to our bodies creates a response that makes us healthier and stronger."
Decreases Depression by Increasing Endorphins
Cold water sends electrical impulses to your brain, which causes endorphins to be released. Endorphins are also known as happiness hormones. A clinical trial has found that people with depression who took a cold shower for up to 5 minutes, 2-3 times a week, experienced relief in their symptoms.
In his podcast episode "The Benefits Of Hot And Cold Therapy & Other Longevity Hacks" he explains mood benefits of cold therapy:
"[Cold therapy] activates dopamine... [a]nd it creates a sustained release of dopamine, which is what we’re all trying to get more of for pleasure, focus, attention, feeling good, alert, and just able to really do stuff. And it’s really quite amazing."
Supports Weight Loss by Improving MetabolismThere is evidence that taking a cold shower can help activate brown fat, which is a type that helps generate heat for your body by burning calories.
Cold water tightens the pores and seals moisture into our skin and hair, while also preserving natural oils. The restriction of blood vessels may make the face appear less red or inflamed.
Increases Circulation which Helps Heal Injuries and Reduce Inflammation
Decreasing the temperature of an area of the body speeds up the delivery
of warmer, higher oxygenated blood to the area. This is why athletes will ice and injury to bring down inflammation. A cold shower, or a cold swim, creates the same effect but for your entire body. This increase in circulation can also benefit people with diabetes, high blood pressure, or poor circulation.