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Experts Reveal the 8 Advantages of Taking a Cold Shower

"Improved metabolism, improved mental health, reduced stress, relief from aching joints, and numerous other health benefits"

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Experts Reveal the 8 Advantages of Taking a Cold Shower

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What is cold therapy?

The practice of immersing oneself in cold water is known as cold therapy. Its origins can be traced back to Ancient Greece, where it was primarily used for relaxation and socialization. Immersive cold baths, such as the Plunge or the Pod Company Ice Pod, are now marketed as part of a holistic approach to improving our overall health. 

However, cold water immersion can be incorporated in a variety of ways without the use of complicated devices or high prices. According to Majdoline Jayoushe, MD, an internal medicine specialist and associate professor at Mount Sinai Faculty Practice Primary Care Associates, cold therapy can be practiced by swimming in an unheated pool or simply taking a cold shower. 

The Benefits

  • Reduce inflammation and swelling
  • Reduce chronic pain in joints and muscle soreness
  • Boost your immune system
  • Promote overall improved health
  • Improved metabolism and healthy weight loss
  • Improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Help fight symptoms of depression

Consider it a little "shock" to your system, the speaker advises. Your brain is too preoccupied with trying to make the uncomfortable feeling go away when you're in cold water to be thinking about all the reasons you could be feeling depressed or anxious. It helps you get out of your head.”

She continues by explaining that when our bodies are shocked by cold water, they go into a "fight-or-flight" mode and release stress chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline. She claims that the body will react to these signals by tightening blood vessels, raising heart rate, and hyperventilating. After a cold shower, we experience a spike in "feel good" hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins as our skin adjusts to the cooler temperature. These hormones help us feel content, at ease, and mentally refreshed. 

In agreement, neurophysiologist and host of the Neuro Experience Louisa Nicola says that having a cold shower can tighten pores, lessen the production of extra oil, and improve the health of your skin in general. 

What is the best way to take a cold shower?

It's best to take a cold shower slowly and steadily. Jayoushe advises people to begin cautiously. Towards the end of your shower, try a cold temperature for a short while, and then turn the knob from hot to cold until it begins to feel comfortable. She advises, "Inhale deeply and move around under the shower to spread the water evenly throughout your body." 

Any water temperature below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) is ideal for a cold shower. The greatest times to take cold showers, according to cold therapy scientists, are in the afternoon or evening, she continues. Our bodies' core temperatures change throughout the day, so in the morning when they are at their lowest, we are most vulnerable to the cold, according to her. 

How long should you take a cold shower for? 

Fortunately, you don't need to take a long time in a cold shower to enjoy all of its benefits. Jayoushe cites a 2016 study from the Netherlands that found people who took a cold shower for 30 to 90 seconds had a 29% lower rate of sick days taken from work than people who took no cold showers at all. Thus, even if you shouldn't overdo it (more on that later), even a brief, cold shower will have a positive impact on your body and well-being.

"Start by exposing yourself to cold water for a brief period of time. Try extending your exposure by five seconds with each shower as your body adjusts over time, she says until you can stand the cold water for at least thirty seconds. 

Cold Showers vs Hot Showers

There are times when having a hot shower rather than a cold one might be advantageous. According to Nicola, research indicates that hot baths can alleviate insomnia and improve the quality of sleep. They can also alleviate depressive symptoms, just as cold showers have been shown to do. 

According to Jayoushe, hot water can also help ease sore muscles after a workout, but more research is necessary to demonstrate that hot showers have the same positive effects on cognition as cold showers. Moreover, a hot shower can cause your skin and hair to become parched. For a happy medium, aim for a warm shower with warm water.

What are the downsides of cold showers?

When taking a cold shower, there are a few negative effects to be aware of. According to Jayoushe, exposure to cold temperatures for an extended period of time (usually longer than 15 minutes) can raise the risk of hypothermia, which can result in major injury and damage to the nerves. 

Nicola goes on to say that people who have heart problems, hypertension, or other cardiovascular conditions should exercise caution when using any kind of cold therapy and should see a doctor for the best medical advice. Jayoushe acknowledges that elderly patients with uncontrolled hypertension and heart problems may find it dangerous, but stresses that in such cases, consulting a physician is essential before attempting.

People who have Raynaud's disease, which Nicola describes as a condition of extreme cold sensitivity and circulation problems, are among those who should also avoid such cold exposure. She adds that people who suffer from respiratory diseases like asthma should use caution when exposed to extremely low temperatures. 

Thus, taking a cold shower is an easy way to get the best of both worlds if you've been curious about cold therapy but don't want to venture too far into the unknown.

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Linda Maria

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Linda Mariya is a New Jersey-based writer and editor who is covering fashion, beauty, celebrity, and models. She is currently the Senior Editor at The Fashion Enthusiast

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