Throwing Cold Water . . . On Yourself!

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, prescribed cold baths.  It is common to end a spa or sauna treatment with a plunge in a cold pool or ice water bath.   Ice reduces inflammation, soreness, and furthers injury recovery.  There are many proponents claiming that cold showers have substantial health benefits.

Cold showers are claimed to:

  • Improve blood circulation
  • Relieve depression, stress
  • Improve emotional resilience
  • Keep skin and hair healthy
  • Strengthen immunity and boosts circulation
  • Increase testosterone
  • Increase fertility
  • Increase alertness, energy and well-being.

Some research indicates that cold showers lower blood levels of uric acid and boost levels of Glutathione.

One Study

A recent study in the Netherlands found that:

Cold daily showers leads to taking off fewer sick says from work.

For one month 3,000 people were split into groups were some ended their morning shower with cold water lasting 30, or 60 or 90 seconds.  The participants could shower normally before spending their prescribed 30, or 60 or 90 seconds in cold water.

Although the participants reported feeling the same level of illness, those taking cold showers were absent 29% fewer days than the control  group and 54% less if they exercised regularly.  The participants either were less ill or felt energetic enough to go to work so they may have been able to endure the symptoms easier while at work.

It was immaterial whether you for did it for 30 or 60 or 90 seconds.  Duration beyond 30 seconds did not have any effect.


The Science

A few possible explanations arose to explain the correlation in terms of causation.

Cold temperatures induce shivering, which is an automatic physical response to keep body temperature higher.  The fight or flight response is triggered and cortisol hormones are released.

The cold activates the brown (good) fat (brown) stored in the body which affects the thermoregulation of the body to warm the body by burning calories.  It might help control blood sugar.

Even if it a placebo effect, the beneficial results are the same.

References and Resources

Geert A. Buijze, Reported in Harvard Business

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