Why on Earth Would I take a Cold Shower?!
Why would I take a cold shower?! That is a great question! It seems like a crazy and miserable thing to do. But, the benefits largely outweight the few minutes of discomfort. After a while, you actually get used to it and even look forward to it because you feel so good.
So, what are some benefits of cold exposure or cold immersion? I am going to hit the highlights. If you want to read all the scientific data, I recommend reading the "Wim Hoff Method". I just wanted to bring you a cliff notes version and strategy to add this to your day.
Here are my favorite benefits of Cold Immersion:
1) Enhanced immunity: Cold exposure can increase white blood cell levels, help regulate T helper cells and T suppressor cells (that last part is very important for those with autoimmune conditions). In addition, cold exposure can stimulate autophagy which is essentially a "Clean up" process where the immune system gets rid of things that are a threat. You may be familiar with this as a benefit of intermittent fasting, but cold can stimulate this as well.
2) Neurological benefits: Cold exposure increases noradrenaline levels, which have been shown to be low in those with anxiety and depression. Cold exposure can also help with focus and memory.
3) Weight loss! By increasing levels of brown fat, we increase metabolism. Brown fat is more prevalent in young individuals. This why your kids and grandkids seem to have a super high metabolism and will swim in pools, lakes and oceans that we would not step foot in. Cold helps increase levels of brown fat which is a good thing for weight loss. In addition, cold exposure helps increase sensitivity to insulin which means we are better able to control our blood sugar.
4) Decreased inflammation. There is a lot going on here, but a number of well known inflammatory markers have been shown to decrease in response to cold exposure. This is why athletes soak in cold tubs after a hard workout session or game. Inflammation is a big problem for many people and this is a simple way to help.
5) Increase in antioxidant levels: Exposure to cold helps increase antioxidant levels which help you fight off free radicals that damage the body.
6) Better sleep. Do you find that you sleep better in a cool room vs. a super warm room? Most sleep experts recommend sleeping in a room that is in the mid 60's. Cold showers or baths also help stimulate good sleep.
7) Lower stress hormone: This another issue that affects many people. Continually elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol are very detrimental to our health. The cold helps reduce cortisol production. This is powerful.
Are you convinced? Most people report that it takes a week or two to get over the initial horror of a cold shower, but once they try this for about 2 weeks, they simply feel too good to stop. You can immerse yourself in cold by bathing or showering. I think most people find the showers to be easier. You simply shower as usual and then turn it to cold. Start with 30 seconds and work up to 2 minutes. I have gotten to the point where I don't need the warm shower anymore. I just jump right in to the cold shower. It's a bit cold at first, but if you breathe and relax, you get used to it.
I feel great doing this and the feedback from my patients has been positive as well. It's easy to do, it's free and best of all, it works! Give it a try for a few weeks and see if you don't notice a difference!
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To your health,