In the Little Black Book Of Workout Motivation By Mike Matthews, he advocates that every Monday you should take a cold shower to get out of your comfort zone. Following this challenge, I took a cold shower every week for 3 months and here are the benefits.
1. They Increase Wakefulness And Reinvigorate You
The science on cold showers indicates that they don’t do anything special.
But the cold showers definitely shocked my body into waking up. Because the water was so cold ( the lowest setting on the dial) it resulted in me deep breathing which left me feeling awake, invigorated and full of energy.
The cold water also constricts your blood vessels and causes blood to move to your organs to keep them warm.
If you have a cold shower then a warm shower alternating between the two you can improve your circulation.
Because heat opens up your blood vessels and promotes blood flow. Heat also helps sore and tightened muscles relax.
If you alternate between the two you’ll get the best of both worlds.
2. They Teach You How To Do Hard Things
If left to our own devices jumping into an Ice cold shower would be something that we have an inherent dislike for.
The reason being is that it’s hard and uncomfortable.
But having cold showers is one way to force ourselves to do hard things even though we don’t want to.
And this can help with many things.
Because many activities that are hard but can also improve our lives are inherently uncomfortable.
- Working out (it’s hard and uncomfortable).
- Working on a project that needs your best effort ( it’s hard and uncomfortable).
- Reading books (especially harder to read books such as classics).
- Building a good life for yourself and your family (obviously no easy task).
To achieve many important goals, and build the lives we want at times will require the ability to do hard and uncomfortable things even when we don’t want to. Cold showers are good for training this ability.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, ” Nothing worth having comes easy”.
And if we can train ourselves to do hard and uncomfortable things, when we face hard and uncomfortable problems in our lives we’ll be better prepared for them.
3. They Can Help You Breath More Deeply
During our hectic lives, most of us don’t really focus on our breathing. It’s easy for our breathing to go unnoticed because it’s automatic, so why should we focus on it?
But not breathing deeply is a big mistake. The good thing about cold exposure is that it stimulates your body to take deeper breaths, which decreases the levels of CO2 throughout your body and helps you to concentrate.
Whereas shallow breathing can trigger anxiety and cause dry mouth.
Different Civilazations And Cold Showers
Arguably the toughest soldiers in history, the Spartans had a disdain for hot water. They thought hot water was for the weak and unmanly. They would only use cold water.
There is a tradition in Finland where you first go into a sauna for several minutes and then cool off in an ice-cold lake.
Japanese people also have a ritual called Misogi. Where they effectively douse themselves in water under a waterfall.
Wim Hof’s Proposed Benefits Of Cold Showers
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard of Wim Hoff. He’s basically made cold exposure and deep breathing almost mainstream.
I agree with most of Wims proposed benefits of cold showers such as:
Reduced Stress levels
The nature of deep breathing when taking a cold shower can definitely lower the stresses in our daily lives.
Deep breathing has been found to do this on its own. But due to the uncomfortable nature of cold showers, they can make normal life seem quite nice in comparison.
Higher Level Of Alertness
There’s no doubt about this one. Taking a cold shower is an excellent way to wake up in the morning and increase your levels of alertness.
Again, cold showers are hard and uncomfortable and if we can train ourselves to do hard and uncomfortable things when we don’t want to, the better our lives will be.
Other Claimed Benefits Of The Wim Hof Method
Stronger Immune Response
Essentially the Wim Hof Method Is just deep breathing with some cold exposure. There is a study on his site that indicates people who performed the Wim Hof method have a better immune response to pathogens.
This might be true or it might not be.
But I think the increase in immune response would be marginal compared to if you did things like:
- Exercised Reguarly
- Slept 7-9 hours per night
- Limited alcohol intake
- Reduced your stress levels
- Ate a healthy diet
Yes, you could add the Wim Hoff method into your regimen as well. But focusing on breathing techniques and cold exposure without focusing on the fundamentals ( the list above) is putting the cart before the horse.
Cold exposure probably does increase your metabolic rate ( how many calories you burn when you do nothing) but again it would be marginal.
Cold exposure is definitely not the main thing you want to focus on if you want to lose weight.
Here’s what you want to primarily focus on:
- Eating in a calorie deficit ( eating fewer calories than you burn)
- Excercicing reguarly
- Reducing stress levels
- Getting enough sleep 7-9 hours per night
- Eating a healthy diet full of whole foods
- Eating enough protein
Cold Exposure And Hair
One benefit of cold showers that I don’t see many people talking about is their effect on your hair.
Hot showers can leave your scalp dry and itchy. Whereas showering in cool or cold water can lead to healthier hair.
So if you want healthier hair, make sure there’s no steam in sight when you have a shower.
How To Have A Cold Shower
The Hard Way: Put your shower on its coldest setting and then have a shower for 3 minutes. Use warmer more tolerable water after.
Frequency – At least once per week.
The Easy Way: Have a warmish/ cool shower and finish your shower off with one minute on the coldest setting.
Frequency – Try to do it every day.
Disclaimer: If you have any medical conditions make sure you consult your doctor before having cold showers.
The Bottom Line On The Benefits Of Cold Showers
Cold showers aren’t a panacea, although they do have some benefits such as developing increased willpower and helping you become more alert.
I try to have a cold shower at least once per week. And one minute of cold exposure at the end of my showers every day to reap some benefits.
Do you have cold showers? And if so what benefits did you notice?