Over the past few years there has been a growing interest around the benefits of ice baths and cold-water immersion.
This has led to a steady migration of health fanatics and wellbeing seekers fleeing the cities in pursuit of retreats that facilitate these kinds of activities.
There’s no denying that just a few years back it would have been considered ludicrous to purposely expose yourself to such cold conditions, with science deeming it as dangerous and even life threatening in some cases.
But then came along the “ice Man” the globally renowned Wim Hoff who through his extraordinary achievements and collection of world records was able to demonstrate just how durable and adaptable the human body actually is.
Being the subject of scientific studies Wim Hoff showed exactly how his cold exposure methods help to battle various symptoms of auto immune disease as well as other physical and mental ailments.
Although we would all love jet off for a long weekend, to one of these cold therapy style retreats and fully experience it’s benefits.
It’s not always practical.
So how can you too benefit from these sorts of therapies without forking out hundreds or even thousands of pounds at a time.
Easy! Go to your bathroom and switch on the shower!
A cold shower at home is a quick, accessible way of achieving all the health benefits with minimal effort.
There’s nothing like the sudden shock of stepping straight into the rush of cold water to wake you up, and get your senses zinging.
This gives you a natural boost of energy alone.
Even that gasp of sudden shock is advantageous – breathing in deeply increases your oxygen intake – which helps to keep you warm (so you’re not as cold as you might think).
Getting rid of more carbon dioxide with deeper exhalation (in those gasps of shock) boosts your alertness and concentration, too.
A rush of cold water against your skin tightens your pores, smoothing your skin, and flattens your hair follicles, making your hair shine.
But the effects aren’t just skin-deep.
Cold showers improve circulation, increase immunity, fight inflammation, alleviate stress/depression, make you happy, boost the burning of fat, improve the quality of your sleep, protect nerves, and many other benefits.
Let’s look at some of the claims and scientific evidence and find out how to take cold showers to your advantage.
The Benefits of Cold Showers
Cold showers improve your circulation.
That gasp of shock fills your lungs with oxygen – necessary for your blood to carry to your organs to keep them healthy and functioning well.
Cold makes your arteries pump your blood more efficiently, and your heart rate increases, releasing a rush of oxygenated blood through your entire body to feed your organs with greater efficiency.
This includes benefits to two major organs – your skin and heart , according to Joseph Mercola, a natural health expert.
Cold water also makes your blood pressure drop, and is even said to clear arterial clogging.
Cold showers improve the immune system and counteract inflammation.
Cold water is anti-inflammatory, boosting your immune system.
Cold showers can help inflammatory conditions like arthritis, and, according to one research study, acts like an analgesic / painkiller, with no fear of adverse side-effects or drug dependency.
Just as ice-packs soothe sprains and ice baths alleviate professionals’ sore muscles after sports matches, a cold shower will have the same results after exercise, a workout or muscular injuries.
Cold showers alleviate stress and depression.
That rush of cold shower actually gives you a small charge of stress, but being exposes to slight stress on a regular basis is a process called ‘hardening’.
Your nervous system becomes more acclimatised to dealing with stress, and when you experience stressful situations in future, you are better able to cope.
Also, cold receptors in the skin transmit huge impulses of electricity through the nerves to the brain, which boosts mood and prevents or alleviates depression.
Cold showers make you happy.
Cold water stimulates a rush of endorphins – feel-good chemicals that make us happier and more positive.
Since they also alleviate stress, boost energy and make you more alert, these qualities also have beneficial effects on your mood and mental health.
Cold showers stimulate weight loss.
Harvard Medical School affiliate, Joslin Diabetes Center says that extreme cold is proven to activate brown fat, which burns off to keep us warm. By consequence, since fat is burned, we lose weight.
Taking the plunge
If the thought of a cold shower is too daunting, take it gradually.
Turn the temperature down slowly while you have a normal shower, or just give yourself a 30-second blast of icy-cold water at the end.
Acclimatise yourself, until you’re lengthening the time you spend under a cold shower.
Pretty soon, you’ll be ‘hardened’ to it, and will be able to step confidently into a cold shower from the start, every day, to reap the full benefits.
If you have any health conditions in which the cold shock might have adverse effects, do speak to a doctor before you take the plunge, just to check it’s going to be fine for you to do this regularly.
But for most people, this is a healthy, life-giving option with far more health benefits than not.
By having a cold shower each morning, you will start the day fresh and alert.
Furthermore, through regular exposure to the cold, you will gain the many amazing health advantages of cold showering as a lifestyle choice.
But if you do feel you would like to learn more about cold water therapy and its numerous benefits, as well as discover some of the retreats that offer these services I’ve included a few links that I hope will provide some further insight.
Alladale Wim Hof Method Cold Water Retreat (Scotland)
Glass House Retreat Cryotherapy Chamber (Essex) https://www.glasshouseretreat.co.uk/the-spa/cryo-chamber