Why we should all be taking more cold showers (yes, even in winter!) – If you’ve been caught indulging in a warm shower, only for a blast of cold water to take you by surprise, you might be led to feel less than impressed – especially in the midst of winter. In these moments, it’s worth remembering the many surprising benefits a cold shower can have on both our minds and our bodies. In a time when society is working to be much more mindful of our actions and the purpose behind them, here are five ways in which taking cold showers can have a positive impact on both wellbeing and overall health.
Boosting alertness can be hugely beneficial to everything from work performance to energy levels. If you’ve ever taken a cold shower, you’ll be well aware of the initial shock factor you are faced with when the cold water hits your skin. That shock may make it difficult to breathe properly at first but fear not. This initial shock causes deep breathing, which results in an increase in both oxygen intake and heart rate, both of which lead to a stronger level of alertness.
It’s better for hair and skin
It’s well known that heat can damage both hair and skin, and hot water is no different. Hot water strips our skin and hair of natural oils, leaving them dry and brittle. Celebrity and Royal hairdresser Richard Ward advises turning down the shower dial, especially when rinsing out the conditioner, “cold water helps to seal the hair cuticle shut again for extra glossy, shiny locks,”.
Increased circulation is probably the most talked-about benefit of cold showers by professionals. When cold water hits limbs and the body as a whole, blood begins to circulate at a faster rate to maintain the ideal body temperature. Those suffering from hypertension may find solstice in cold showers, thanks to their ability to trigger the circulatory system to reduce inflammation.
Speeds up muscle recovery
Thanks to its regenerative properties, cold water is the perfect antidote to those post-workout aches and pains. The rush of cold water causes blood vessels across the body to constrict, increasing blood flow to the core. Once back into room temperature, blood vessels again dilate, causing a flurry of warm blood to pump around the body. Sports Scientist, Harry Aitkenat Auster says “The flush of fresh oxygenated blood around the body helps to remove any toxins and built-up lactic acid, supporting both the healing of internal damage and aiding sporting recovery”.
There’s substantial research to suggest that cold water hitting the skin causes a rush of electrical impulses around the body, resulting in a spike in the stress hormone cortisol, in order to handle the initial shock. Whilst there are minimal initial effects, long term it has been suggested that this short sharp increase in cortisol can help the body develop resilience, and an overall increase in tolerance to stress.
Shower experts at Better Bathrooms recommend choosing either a thermostatic or digital shower, thanks to their ability to set and maintain an ideal temperature, even if someone turns on a tap elsewhere. This means that whatever water temperature you choose to shower at, there will be no nasty surprises.