I have been taking cold showers for the past few weeks, and it’s been AMAZING.
I’ve already written about how taking cold showers strengthens your willpower.
Beyond the Hardening, there are some serious health benefits, too. Here are my top 5:
Cold Shower Benefit #1
Taking Cold Showers Will Improve Your Body Chemistry
There are two compounds that are dramatically affected by cold showers: uric acid and glutathione.
Glutathione is the king of antioxidants. All the other antioxidants in your body will perform better when glutathione is present, allowing you to process toxins out of your body more efficiently. Cold showers boost your glutathione production.
Uric Acid makes your muscles sore, 1-4 days after you work out. In 2009 the New England Journal of Medicine found that 24 minutes of cold water immersion had a measurable effect in relieving muscle soreness. That’s why athletes soak in ice baths after a hard day of training – they want to be able to walk in a couple of days.
Cold showers also decrease blood lactate concentration, reducing post-workout pain and speeding recovery. If you work out regularly (and come on, Dads, you should) then cold showers will make your post-workout pain bearable.
Cold Shower Benefit #2
Cold Showers Burn Brown Fat
Not all fat is created equal! (Just ask ketogenic dieters.) There are two types of fat in your body: white fat and brown fat. White fat (metabolically docile white adipose tissue) is energy your body stores in case of a famine. Brown fat (metabolically active brown adipose tissue) keeps your body warm and generates heat.
When your body gets cold, what is your natural physical response?
You shake in every tiny muscle, which expends a tremendous amount of energy. So much energy, in fact, that your body will raid its stores of white fat, and convert them to brown fat. Suddenly, keeping you warm is more important to your body than saving up for a famine that may never happen.
“In adults, brown fat is located on the upper back and neck, and upper chest above the clavicle,” says Brett Mckay of the Art of Manliness, “so when you shower, aim cold water so it hits that part of your body.”
He gives a quick overview of the benefits of cold showers in this video:
Cold Shower Health Benefit #3
Cold Showers Improve Your Immunity & Circulation
“On a whole-body scale, immersing yourself in a cold tub of water brings down your heart rate and increases your circulation, minimizing inflammation and helping you recover faster,” says Dr Joseph Mercola. If your body thinks it is freezing, it will slow your heart rate to conserve energy. At the same time, your metabolic rate increases (so you can burn more fat and stay warm) and your immune system is activated. Studies show an increase in white blood cell production, T cells, and lymphocytes.
Alternating between hot and cold water is one of the best ways to activate your lymph system, which processes toxins out of your body. Cold water contracts your lymph vessels, and warm water relaxes them, allowing your lymph system to pump stagnant fluid through your system.
Cold Shower Benefit #4
A Cold Shower Is A Natural Cure For Depression
“Cold showers stimulate what is known as ‘the blue spot,’ which is the brains primary source of noradrenaline – a chemical which plays a role in alleviating depression,” says Sean Russell. “The mild electroshock delivered to the brain by the cold shower (you’ll know exactly what I mean) sends an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which could result in an anti-depressive effect. There is a high density of cold receptors in the skin, much more than there are for registering warmth.”
This barrage of stimulus to your skin can literally shock you out of depression. (I don’t mean literally as in the newfangled doublespeak meaning, figuratively – I mean, quite literally.) This is an all-natural method of electroshock therapy.
Cold Shower Benefit #5
Cold Showers Improve Your Skin And May Slow Hair Loss
When cold water hits your body, the capillaries near the surface of your skin will dilate. This is meant to warm your skin by bringing blood from deeper levels of tissue to the surface. Conversely, your cuticles and pores will contract, which keeps them from getting clogged. This prevents acne and blemishes.
The big bonus for dads: contracted pores strengthen the roots of your hair, which can slow the effects of hair loss. This guy says cold showers completely stopped his hair loss.
– Pro Tips For Taking Cold Showers –
Jesse Jacobs – The blast of cold can be a shock at first, but after a while it feels completely natural.
I’m so accustomed to the jolt of energy and mental clarity now, that I crave the cold finish.
Stefano Ganddini – I learned to relax and control my breathing.
I eventually started taking cold showers that lasted just as long as when I used to take hot showers. And even though my body had adjusted to the cold, every cold shower still had the same invigorating and energizing effects that carried into the rest of my day.
Dr Joseph Mercola – I now go into the shower without allowing it to warm up.
I have found that if I hold my breath it really helps adjust to the shock and I rapidly acclimate to the cold. I have come to enjoy it and now view it as a healthy stress very similar to exercise.
Todd Becker – The effects are apparent with the first cold shower.
If you continue the practice for several weeks, you’ll find the psychological benefits are even greater. I find that cold showers are great for the mood. Not only are they physically invigorating, they make you feel alive, vital and ready to take on the day. They stimulate thinking early in the morning.
Rik Panganiban – There may have been screams and yelps involved.
I definitely had mornings where I had to grit my teeth and force myself to get into a freezing cold shower. In general, any morning where I didn’t start with a workout was hard. It’s so much easier getting into a cold shower when you are sweaty and hot from a run.
Jason Shen – I’ve trained myself to calm down and overcome this natural response.
I no longer have the panicky feeling that a ton cold water on your skin gives you for more than a few seconds when I take my cold showers – And I’ve noticed this ability to temper my response overlap into other areas of my life.
“If you are willing to do only what’s easy, life will be hard, but if you are willing to do what’s hard, life will be easy.” – T.Harv Eker
Cold showers vs. Warm-then-cold showers
There are two different camps in the cold shower community. Some people advocate starting with cold, staying cold, all the time. (It was good enough for our forefathers before modern plumbing, right?)
Others allow for some warm shower time, followed by cold.
I start with a warm shower.
I’m real groggy when I first wake up, and the very first thing I do every morning is get in the shower. I’m not ready for a cold plunge until I’ve warmed up first. Because of the immunity benefits listed above, and the pumping of the lymph system, I prefer taking a warm-then-cold shower.
But you might be different. You might prefer the instant shock of cold water. Some people say that after completing a 30-day Cold Shower Challenge, they prefer starting with cold.
You might be one of those guys…but how would you know, unless you try?
Can You Take A Cold Shower Every Day For 30 Days?
All you gotta do is step in, son.
Are you willing to do commit to 30 days of cold showers?
Here’s all you have to do:
Spend 30 seconds in cold water for 30 consecutive days.
You can download Joel Runyon’s Cold Shower App to track how many consecutive days you can go. If you’d like some encouragement and reminders, register for the BeTheBetterDad.com 30 Day Cold Shower Challenge here: