Taking a cold shower might not seem like an ideal start of your day. You’re waking up all warm and cozy, have a nice, hot cup of tea or coffee and then need to jump into a freezing waterfall? YES! Because cold showers are amazingly beneficial to your health.
Our bodies are evolutionary build to get a temperature shock every now and then.
But nowadays we live in a heat controlled environment: we’ve got airconditioners, heaters, warm blankets and thick winter coats to keep us from getting too hot or too cold.
This is all nice and comfortable for daily living, but we need to NOT be comfortable all the time! Giving your body a little wake-up call every now and then keeps your systems alert and helps preparing them for when we DO need our body’s ability to respond to keep us healthy.
YOUR BALANCE BEAM
It works like this: the condition of your body and health is comparable to walking on a balance beam. Sometimes something tries to knock you off and you need to adjust yourself to stay on the beam. When you do get knocked off (get sick or wounded) you need to get back on the beam as soon as possible. The faster you can get back on the beam and regain your balance, the healthier you are.
When you’re having a very small beam to walk on it’s much more difficult to keep your balance and you get knocked of more easily. And vice versa, having a very wide beam will make it easier for you to keep your balance and you won’t get knocked off so easily.
Training your body to cope with unexpected and unpleasant things is what gets your beam wider. And taking cold showers works miracles for getting a wider balance beam! No more easy knock-offs or balance problems.
This is what cold showers do for your health:
1. YOU LOSE WEIGHT BY GETTING MORE BROWN FAT
More brown fat? Why would you want more fat?
White fat is the “bad” kind of fat, it stores toxins and is the fat that you have when you’re overweight.
Brown fat, or Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT) if you want to get fancy, is the good kind of fat. Newborns have almost no white fat and loads of brown fat. It’s a special kind of fat that generates body heath, and this is why it’s also found in animals that hibernate. It’s for those who cannot shiver to keep themselves warm, like animals that sleep through winter or babies.
Here’s the amazing part: brown fat TAKES calories from white fat and BURNS them! Without exercising! All you need to get this process going is to really shiver for a couple of minutes underneath a cold shower. This shivering and the low temperature stimulates your body to make more brown fat.
Who knew fat would be great for burning fat?
2. COLD SHOWERS MAKE YOU HAPPY
Okay, maybe not when you’re freezing and shivering while having ice-cold water flowing over your head, but most certainly afterwards and also in the long run.
There’s even been some research(1) done on whether cold showers could be used as treatment for depression. And guess what? Taking cold showers turns out to be rather effective for treating depressive symptoms! The study also showed that the cold showers increased the amount of electrical impulses in the brain. Sometimes we need to give it a little kick to get everything to communicate well up there.
Their explanation comes from the same evolutionary origin as ours: by not having enough physiological stressors help our brain function well. They use the perfect term “thermal exercise” for this. We need to be uncomfortable every now and then to stay comfortable!
3. THEY RAISE YOUR ENERGY LEVELS
In another study(2) researchers compared individuals that regularly swam in cold water (winter swimming) with people who didn’t.
The cold water swimmers showed a significant difference in feeling “more energetic, active and brisk” than those who weren’t exposed to cold water on a regular basis. Even more, the individuals that were diagnosed with diseases reported relieve of pain and other symptoms.
So should on winter swimming be your newfound hobby from now on? No worries, cold showers also do the trick!
4. COLD SHOWERS IMPROVE YOUR OVERALL WELL-BEING
Cold showers have such great health benefits that you could surely say they improve your general well-being.
They relieve symptoms from chronic illnesses, help you burn fat, improve your psychological functioning, raise your energy levels, increase neural impulses and this all adds up to help you widen your balance beam!
So cold showers it is! And you’ll get used to them, so after you’ve “suffered” through the first few cold ones, you should be fine. And every now and then you can still take a nice, steaming hot shower: keep surprising your systems for a healthier body!
Ready to start your day with a cold shower? Let us know how your first “fresh” start was!
1. Shevchuk, N. A. (2007). Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression. Med Hypotheses. 2008;70(5):995-1001. Epub 2007 Nov 13.
2. Huttunen, P., Kokko, L., Ylijukuri, V. (2004). Winter swimming improves general well-being. International Journal of Circumpolar Health 63:2 2004.
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