What are the health benefits of cold showers?

They might not be the first thing you crave in the morning, but the benefits of cold showers more than outweigh the negatives...

It turns out you’ve been showering wrong all along. Sure, hot showers are relaxing and feel great against the skin, but they actually dry it out, make you tired and can actually increase blood pressure. Cold showers, on the other hand, are where it’s at. Once you get over the initial shock there’s a whole raft of benefits with them, from reducing your stress levels to soothing itchy skin.

They might not be the first thing you crave in the morning, but the benefits of cold showers more than outweigh the negatives. If you want to feel more alert, or if you seek better mental strength, or quicker muscle recovery, you might just want to twist that tap round the other way. Below, we’ve listed the health benefits of taking a cold shower…

They better prepare you to handle stress

It may not be scientifically proven by experts in lab coats, but cold showers are thought to help reduce stress. The idea behind this notion is simple – the cold water shocks your body, taking it out of its comfort zone and putting it under a small amount of stress.

By doing this often, your body eventually gets better used to the shock, making you more prepared for it each time. Some, including cold water aficionado Wim Hof, believe this process can then be applied to other aspects of your life, making you better able to handle stressful situations.

They increase mental strength and willpower

Again, this may not be a benefit backed by science, but many believe cold showers can help improve your mental strength. Taking ice cold showers isn’t a particularly comfortable experience, but being able to cope with cold temperatures for long periods requires determination, resilience and a certain amount of self control.

In taking cold showers regularly, it can be argued these factors only increase, and your mental strength and willpower improves as a result.

They shock you into alertness

Your first urge in the morning might well be for a toasty hot shower, but that might actually be the last thing you need. Hot showers are known to trigger the ‘parasympathetic nervous system’ according to Healthline, which is essentially the bit that makes us sleepy.

Cold showers on the other hand shock you into waking up. They boost your oxygen intake and accelerate your heart rate, making you feel alive, alert and in the best place to tackle the day head on.

They reduce muscle soreness

It’s well known that cold water helps with muscle recovery. The world’s best athletes rely on post-match ice baths, as exposure to the cold helps reduce inflammation and soreness, speeds up recovery time and actually lowers the risk of future injuries.

So, whether you’re an injured or recovering athlete or just an average Joe wanting to up your running game, cold showers will likely help with your sporting goals.

They soothe itchy skin

If you’re prone to itchy skin, or if you have a skin condition that causes you to itch, cold showers may be the help you need. Professor at the George Washington University Adam Friedman, MD, argues they go so far as to reduce the urge to scratch in the first place, hopefully making life slightly easier for you.

They improve the health and look of skin

It might seem counterintuitive, but hot showers do nothing for your skin. They actually strip it of its natural oils, drying it out and making it work harder than it should. Cold showers on the other hand actually do the opposite, improving blood flow to the skin, transporting more nutrients and oxygen to the surface and thus giving you brighter, more supple skin.

Many swear by cold showers purely for this alone, as in theory, they help defend against ageing. The better blood flow and the more nutrients your skin has, the younger it will look.

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