For those of you who watch Survivor, you know that receiving a reward can be a highly beneficial experience. When you watch someone on an island for 20-plus days win the opportunity to have a shower, you consciously realize how lucky you are to have that option whenever you please.
Nothing beats a good shower, but are you having the perfect shower every time? Are you optimizing your shower time to enhance your health? We all know that good hygiene is important, but does the science behind your daily shower go even further? More specifically, are you showering at an ideal temperature?
Is your shower too hot for your own good?
After a long day at the office, nothing feels better than a steaming hot shower. It loosens up your muscles and allows you to reduce feelings of stress — or does it?
When you think of having a cold shower, you more than likely cringe at the thought. I mean, it seems slightly unnatural to us, doesn’t it? Although it may seem uncomfortable, colder showers can actually do your body and mind a world of good — here’s how.
Related: 6 Benefits Of Taking A Cold Shower
1. Increased circulation
When your skin is hit with cold water, your body reacts by increasing blood circulation. As your blood quickly surrounds your organs, your heart begins to pump for efficiently, ensuring the rest of your body has an ample supply of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood. Meaning, when you have a cold shower on a regular basis, you can naturally improve cardiovascular circulation and overall heart health.
2. Improved sleep
For those who suffer from insomnia, a cold shower is often an ideal remedy. In order to sleep, our bodies naturally drop in temperature. If you’re too warm, you may toss and turn. For those who jump into a cold shower, they force their body’s temperature to dip, improving the chances of falling asleep.
While researchers studied the effects of a “brain-cooling” cap, they observed that insomnia patients not only took less time to fall asleep, but also increased the amount they slept. When researchers exposed them to the highest intensity treatment, it took 13 minutes for insomnia patients to fall asleep in comparison to 16 minutes for non-insomniacs.
As the frontal cortex cooled, metabolism slowed down and reduced symptoms of insomnia. So, if you’re struggling to fall asleep, maybe your brain just needs a cold shower.
3. Enhanced mood
We’d all like to be happier and more productive in our daily lives — always striving for more. In many ways, this is directly connected to the foods we consume. But in terms of personal mental health, this topic is highly complex. Considering approximately seven percent of American adults suffer from depression, with 80 percent never seeking any treatment, this is a topic that begs for discussion!
Antidepressants certainly aren’t the answer, so what can you do to perk up your mood? From meditation to nutrition, you need to start with your current lifestyle. More specifically, while studying the benefits of cold showers, one key molecular biologist found that symptoms of depression were reduced when implemented regularly.
Although the true explanation is highly scientific, in simplest terms, cold water helps flood our brains with neurotransmitters that make us feel happy. This connection has also been found while studying individuals who swim in the winter. In fact, not only did they showcase improved mood, but also enhanced memory and reduced fatigue. In Canada, we call that a good ol’ fashion polar dip!
4. Boosted immunity
We all know the importance of a strong immune system, so why not give your body the best fighting chance? Once your body hits the cold water, you begin to shiver, activating your metabolic and immune system. Throughout the research, researchers have found that when regularly immersed in cold water, individuals begin to experience an increase in plasma, lymphocytes and T-cells.
This is why mothers often allow their babies to nap outdoors in the cold. These individuals often develop into healthier children who are less prone to illness. While studying adults, researchers found that those who took cold showers were 29 percent less likely to take sick leave.
When examining more than 3,000 healthy adults, researchers concluded that cold showers enhance immune function. The lead researcher compared this effect to a sprinting exercise. When exposed to the cold water, your blood pressure and heart rate go up, stimulating your lymph and immune system. Based on the way they felt, approximately one-third of the participants said that they will continue taking cold showers in the future.
5. Reduced aches and pains
From aches to chronic pain, cold immersion can help address related symptoms. For those who suffer from high levels of inflammation, introducing cold showers into your regular routine could make a world of difference. This was seen within one key study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology.
Researchers evaluated 121 patients with chronic inflammatory arthritis. Both pain and sleep were assessed, as they often go hand-in-hand. Researchers administered whole-body cold mist showers. In comparison to the control group, the treatment group experienced significant improvements across both measurements.
6. Enhanced weight loss
If you’re aiming to lose weight, cold showers should be introduced into your weight loss regimen. Of course, you can’t just jump in a cold shower and expect the excess weight to flow down the drain. You’ll need to exercise and eat well, but cold showers will most certainly support your efforts.
While studying the effects of cold water on body fat, researchers discovered that once the temperature dropped, two hormones increased — FGF21, found in brown fat, as well as irisin, which is made by your muscles. These same hormones increase during exercise, interesting right?
To make a long story short, we have both white and brown fat. Our white fat stores excessive calories, whereas brown fat burns energy — but white fat can be converted into brown fat, which is what we see here. As these two hormones increase, fat and muscle are able to communicate more effectively, resulting in the conversion of plain fat cells into available brown fat.
So the next time you’re ready to jump into the shower, remember that colder temperatures are what make the perfect shower. To start, begin with a warmer temperature and slowly bring the water’s temperature down until you’re bathing in cold water.
Mind over matter! Stick it out and then when you take the next shower, do it again. The more you experience colder showers, the more normal it will become. Just be sure to have a nice fluffy towel ready. Some wooly socks wouldn’t hurt either. Happy showering!
— Krista Hillis