Nothing like a warm shower to start or finish your day. No sane person would willingly take a cold shower, right? Yet, a significant amount of people have been taking cold showers regularly, not only recently, but through out our history. Mounting evidence suggests that cold showers may offer significant health benefits. So brace yourselves, winter is coming… to your shower.
Cold Showers Are Not Another Trend
While some of you may immediately jump to the conclusion that this is just another trend thought up by some hipsters, it’s not. Cold showers have been around even before showers existed. My first personal encounter with cold shower dates back decades to when I was a young child. Due to my weak immune system, I was sick quite often. When the fever was in near dangerous levels, my parents used to take me to the bath and pour cold water on my head and body. This was extremely unpleasant, especially since your body wants to just cuddle up under 5 layers of sheets when you have a fever. However, it did reduce the fever – naturally. It wasn’t a permanent solution but neither was taking fever reducing medicine. Another time, was when I was a bit older, to boost my immune system, my parents took me near this lake and introduced me to people who called themselves Seals. Unlike the Navy Seals, this was a group comprised mostly of older folks 50-70 years old who every winter plunged (willingly) into a frozen lake or extremely cold sea water. I took my clothes off, ran in and lasted all of 5 seconds. However, the people there were bathing in there like it was a 95 degree hot tub. While I personally didn’t commit to this more than once, those people who called themselves Seals were some of the healthiest people around.
Aside from my personal experience, some form of this can be found throughout history and throughout many cultures around the world. In 1829, the medical community started recognizing “cold water cures” after a German named Vincent Priessnitz started successfully utilizing cold water treatments. He is now considered as the father of modern hydrotherapy. It was used to treat smaller ailments, and because anyone could utilize these “cold showers” in springs and streams, it gained some traction. The therapeutic use of water, however, was recorded as early as ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian civilizations. Today, much of Eastern Europe still uses one form or another of cold showers. It is very common to jump into a cold bath after a session in the sauna. Polar bear plunges are also very common even in America, but those seem to be done for fundraisers or as competition, rather than for health benefits. Despite this, it seems that for one reason or another a form of cold water therapy or cold showers continues to stand the test of time and has been around for centuries. Cleansing of mind, body and soul seems to be a recurring theme, but what study-backed benefits does it truly offer?   
5 Health Benefits of Cold Showers
1. Improved Immune System
A pilot study found that cold water therapy boosted the immune system of cancer patients. All of their disease-fighting cell (neutrophils, monocytes and lyphocytes) counts increased significantly. However, ironically, cold weather may diminish your immune system’s response and thus make you more prone to infections. So it is important to differentiate between short exposures to cold water and actual encounters with cold weather.  
2. Pain Reduction
The use of ice and cold water is a well-known treatment recommended for almost any injury in order to reduce pain and inflammation. Research shows that alternating cold and warm waters, or contrast immersion, can decrease blood lactate concentration and reduce pain and speed up the recovery process. While the study did not show a significant benefit compared to rest, experts still believe that alternating of hot and cold water can drive nutrients and oxygen to your internal organs.  
3. Improved Circulation
Cold water may improve your body’s circulation by encouraging blood to surround your organs. This can help combat skin and heart problems. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, after hitting your body, cold water improves your blood circulation and allows your arteries to pump your blood more efficiently. This can boost your overall heart health.  
4. Increase in Anti-Oxidants
A plunge into cold water or even a cold shower may boost your antioxidants. After examining 10 subjects who regularly swim in cold water in the winter, researchers found that their bodies actually benefit from this practice. They claim that the repeated stress on your body from the cold water makes your body adapt and become more prone to fight off diseases. It seems unlikely, but it is in a similar fashion that we put stress and damage our bodies while working out, which in turn makes us stronger. 
5. More Energy & Focus
I can vouch for this one myself and I have yet to meet someone who didn’t experience this. A cold shower delivers a shock to your system and wakes you up instantly. No caffeine needed. A cold shower can be a natural energy booster that will allow you to focus. Of course, as all things, it wears off, but it’s certainly a great way to get a jump start to your day or even get some energy back from a long day at work. Personally, this rush of energy gives me a feel of well-being and generally makes me happier for the rest of the day. This alone makes cold showers worth it for me.
Let us know what benefits you get from cold showers in the comments below.
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