Beginner’s guide to cold showers: Benefits and tips
Cold showers – athletes incorporate them into medal-winning regimes. Old-Hollywood royalty Katharine Hepburn swore by them. Chances are, at least one of your co-workers or friends is keen to list off their benefits, too.
And yet, when it’s time to shed the towel and step underneath the shower head, many of us can’t find the willpower to twist the dial towards cold.
However, cold showers have many proven benefits – lowering the temperature could boost your health, improve your state of mind and even help the environment.
Read on to learn about how taking cold showers could change your life, and how you can begin your journey down the thermometer and en-route to a happier, healthier you!
Hold on! Cold showers may not be right for everyone – if you have any pre-existing health issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, or you are pregnant or elderly, contact your doctor beforehand to make sure taking a cold shower is safe for you.
Cold showers and post-workout recovery
If the recent Summer Olympics have inspired you to set fitness goals of your own, consider borrowing another page from the athletes’ manual and incorporating a sports recovery routine into your regimen with a cold shower.
During exercise, waste products (such as lactic acid) build up and your muscles may become swollen and inflamed after being worked. Exposure to cold water tightens your blood vessels, forcing the blood that contains these waste products to be pushed away. When you warm back up, these same vessels expand again, pulling in fresh, newly oxygenated blood.
This can help to reduce post-workout soreness and help to replenish your body with nutrients, so you feel better afterwards – and are more likely to lace up your trainers the next day! Who knew a good shower could help with your fitness and body goals?
Combat morning syndrome with a cold shower
Though rolling out of bed and into an icy stream of water may seem like a highly unappealing prospect, it could be a sure-fire way to prepare you for the rest of your day.
Have you ever gasped when suddenly confronted with the cold – either when you step outside into winter temperatures or plunge into a less-than-warm swimming pool?
Believe it or not, that gasp signifies the benefits of a cold shower. The contrast between your body temperature and the water temperature causes your heart rate to increase as your system tries to catch up and warm through. This means more oxygen starts flowing through your body, making you feel more alert – your bathroom’s version of an espresso shot!
A digital shower head is a great tool to help you get started with your cold shower routine, allowing you to control the speed of the flow and select your precise temperature. Some models even allow you to start your shower from up to 10 metres away – so you have time to psyche yourself up on the way to the bathroom.
Take one for the team: Help the environment with a cold shower
In addition to boosting the way you feel, incorporating cold showers into your daily routine can benefit the environment, too.
As you won’t need to heat the water, cold showers save energy and are more efficient for both Mother Nature and your utility bills. You’re also less likely to dilly dally beneath the icy flow – allowing you to save water and reduce your overall water usage as you’ll be in and out in a flash.
How to take a cold shower: Best practice
Whether you take a deep breath and dive right in or need a few tries before you brave a shocking temperature, here are important things to keep in mind when taking a cold shower:
Opt for a temperature that falls between 10°C and 15°C
Don’t stay in for more than 10 minutes (3-8 minutes is optimal)
The best time to take a cold shower is in the morning, as it kick-starts your system ready for the rest of the day
If you struggle to take the plunge, start with your feet and hands and submerge one limb at a time
If you still find the chill too much, start with a normal temperature and spend the last two minutes of your shower time beneath a cold stream until you can build up your confidence!
Though it might take some good old-fashioned willpower, the health benefits of taking a cold shower outweigh the inevitable initial shock. So clench your teeth, squeeze your eyes shut and step in – starting your morning with a cold shower could be the best decision you make all day!