Imagine the following moment: You get out of your warm bed and into the shower. Ice cold water hits your skin, and you instantly cringe.
It may sound unpleasant to you, but why are there people out there who say that taking cold showers is healthy? Is there any truth to this, or is it just a myth?
What may sounds like a crazy biohack is in fact a well-researched topic.
We at Mindmonia will answer all your questions about taking cold showers in this detailed guide. In doing so, we primarily focused on the scientific benefits, as we found many false statements online.
First, we will start with some scientifically proven benefits before we come to a step-by-step guide on how to get used to this extraordinary routine. Finally, we included a FAQ section.
Jump ahead to any of the sections below:
Benefits of Cold Showers
A robust immune system, better blood circulation, and healthier skin are just some of the many benefits of cold showers. We have listed the most important benefits for you here.
Benefits of Cold Showers 1: Wakes You up Quickly
Many of us start their day with a coffee and a warm shower to wake up. However, if you shower with cold water in the morning, you will wake up faster. This may sound logical or like common sense, but we have analyzed the facts for you and figured out why that is.
When the cold water hits your warm skin, it initially causes a shock. Your heartbeat increases and your body tries to maintain its temperature and needs more oxygen to do so.
As your heart rate increases, your heart pumps more blood through your body. The biological response of your body to such a shock is to release energy and produce heat, trying to maintain a warm body temperature.
As a result, you will be able to start your day with more energy as your body is immediately put into an alert and awake state. (Source)
The mere thought of stepping out of a warm bed into a cold shower may encounters resistance, but it’s worth it and healthy, especially if you want to avoid coffee to wake up.
Benefits of Cold Showers 2: Improves Your Mood
As already mentioned, an abrupt change in temperature is a shock to your body. This not only increases the need for oxygen, but also the release of endorphins.
Endorphins are also called happiness hormones and are, among other things, responsible for a good mood. Simply put, when your body releases endorphins, you feel good.
There are even studies that show that cold showers can be used as a potential cure for depression.
If you want to start your day feeling good, just take a cold shower in the morning.
Note: Cold showers are no substitute for therapeutic and medical treatment for depression.
Benefits of Cold Showers 3: Strengthens Your Immune System
Cold showers increase your metabolism. As a result, your immune system is activated, and you get less sick. When your immune system is boosted, there are more white blood cells in your blood than usual. White blood cells fight viruses in your body and support it in its fight against diseases. (Source)
Benefits of Cold Showers 4: Increases Your Cold Resistance
Your body has a natural process for dealing with cold. However, many have lost their natural resistance to cold. This is mainly because the majority of us no longer have to face the cold.
On your way to work on winter days, you are probably in a warm car, train, or bus. You are then exposed to the cold for a few seconds until you arrive at your heated office. In the evening, you find yourself in your warm home.
It’s only normal that your body loses its natural resistance to cold. The good thing about it, however, is that you can train your opposition to the cold, just like your endurance.
By taking cold showers, you can strengthen your body and withstand more cold. To achieve this, however, you need to take regular cold showers. (Source)
Benefits of Cold Showers 5: Supports Your Metabolism
On many other websites, you will probably read that cold showers promote weight loss. This assumption is often associated with the fact that cold showers reduce brown fat tissue.
Partially, it’s true: brown fat cells generate (body) heat by burning fat. In a cold shower, you lower your body temperature to such an extent that the brown fat cells start burning fat to produce heat.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can take cold showers several times a week and visibly lose weight. If you want to lose weight healthily, you will have to exercise and eat a balanced and healthy diet.
Cold showers may support weight loss, but the calories burned by cold showers alone are not enough to drop a few pounds. (Source)
By the way, a healthy metabolism has a very positive effect on your biological age.
Benefits of Cold Showers 6: Improves Your Blood Circulation
Perhaps one of the tremendous benefits of cold showers is that it improves your blood circulation. If you cool down your body abruptly, it will use your blood to protect the most important organs first. To maintain blood flow in the other parts of your body, your heart needs to beat faster. (Source)
With an increased heart rate, every part of your body is supplied with sufficient blood and oxygen, which leads to improved blood circulation throughout your body. This strengthens your heart and prevents cardiovascular diseases.
Improved blood circulation also means a clearer head, better mental performance, less brain fog, and more energy.
Benefits of Cold Showers 7: Makes Your Skin Pretty
Did you know that warm water is not necessarily good for your skin?
The sebaceous glands under your skin produce fat and moisture. Your skin oils itself and needs the oil on your skin as well to stay healthy. If there is not enough oil on your skin, it’s much more vulnerable to cracks or skin diseases like acne.
If you shower with warm water, your skin will dry out because warm water dissolves fat and oils from your skin.
On the other hand, cold showers might not have a positive effect on your skin, but they don’t damage it. If you already suffer from acne or similar diseases, you should only take cold showers to support your skin in the healing process. (Source)
Note: Please talk to your dermatologist before you decide to take cold showers.
Benefits of Cold Showers 8: Boosts Your Willpower
As already explained above, the mere thought of getting into a cold shower can give most people goosebumps.
When you try things outside your comfort zone, the first steps are always the hardest to take. Yet, precisely these first steps are what strengthens your will and build your self-confidence.
If you can overcome yourself to take a cold shower every morning, it will strengthen your willpower in the long run. Sooner or later, it will become a habit anyway, and you won’t even have to force yourself.
When you feel like chickening out, remember why you are taking cold showers in the first place. Think of the many advantages and strengthen your will and self-discipline. Shower after shower.
How to Take a Cold Shower – Step by Step
As with most significant changes in your life, it’s essential to start small. When taking a cold shower, there are a variety of things to leverage:
- Water temperature
- Time spent in cold water
- Body parts exposed to cold water
The most important thing is that you start small, as mentioned above, and above all, take regular cold showers. It’s better to have three sessions of four minutes each, than one cold shower for twelve minutes.
Regularly taking cold showers allows you to establish a habit, and in the long run, it will be easier for you to take cold showers.
Be advised, however, that the cold will always be unpleasant. Your mental attitude and your feeling of cold, however, will change. We at Mindmonia have tried the Wim Hof method for several weeks and can confirm this.
It’s best to make your plan how you want to approach this new experience of taking cold showers. Your routine could look like this.
Cold Shower Week 1
The first week will probably be the worst. Start by standing under cold water for 10 to 20 seconds. To ease the shock to your body a little, cool your feet with cold water first. Slowly work your way up from your feet to your arms.
Make sure to breathe as regularly as possible.
When you feel ready, go headfirst under the spray of ice-cold water and stay there for 10 to 20 seconds. After you can raise the temperature of the water again. When you feel better, set the water temperature to cold again for 20 seconds.
The most important thing is that every shower you take is a cold shower. Regularity is the key. This is the only way to ensure that you benefit from the many advantages.
Cold Shower Week 2
After you have approached the cold shower for a week, the next step is to increase the levers a bit. Double your time under the cold water (20 to 40 seconds) and set your water temperature even more freezing.
If you have problems or even panic before the cold shower, meditate for a few minutes before you start. This should help you to deal with panic or fear of the cold and make the cold shower a little more pleasant.
Cold Shower Week 3
In the third week, push your limits: Double your time in the cold water, again. Now you should have reached about 40 to 80 seconds per cold phase. After 40 to 80 seconds of cold water, shower with warm water for as long as you like before moving on to the next cold phase.
In the third week, you should plan an extra day in your showering routine where you take a cold shower for 10 minutes. If you think that 10 minutes is not possible, you should consider the following: At that point you will be three weeks in and may had this thought on the 10-20 seconds just before week one!
Cold Shower Week 4
In the fourth week, you no longer change between cold and warm water. You shower 10 minutes straight in cold water. If it’s not possible for you, you can always return to switching between warm and cold. Try taking an icy shower for 10 minutes at least five times a week.
After that, you shouldn’t have any problems with cold showers anymore.
Here is a summary of the routine we just presented to you:
- Week 1: daily, 10-20 seconds
- Week 2: daily, 20 – 40 seconds
- Week 3: daily, 40 – 80 seconds (plus once 10 minutes)
- Week 4: daily, 10 minutes
By following this routine, you should be prepared to take a cold shower every day. After doing this practice, you don’t necessarily have to take a cold shower for 10 minutes every time you shower. Shower for as long as you want and need. You can also use the routine with a contrast shower.
In the last chapter of our guide, we have compiled and answered a list of the most frequently asked questions and misunderstandings.
Does a Cold Shower Boost Your Testosterone?
There are many rumors that a cold shower increases the natural production of testosterone in the body. However, this is nothing more than a rumor. No study has been able to prove this.
Do Cold Showers Promote Weight Loss?
As mentioned above, cold showers boost your metabolism and thus also fat burning. However, the calories you burn by taking a cold shower are too low to be considered a secret weapon for weight loss. On the contrary, a cold shower supports the body because it accelerates the metabolism.
You can see cold showers as an accelerator for your efforts in sports and nutrition, but you will not lose weight just by taking cold showers.
How Long Should I Take a Cold Shower?
There is no fixed duration when it comes to how long you should stay in the cold shower. It depends from body to body, as everyone has a different level of cold resistance. Give it a try and see how long you can endure being under a cold shower without any pain or side effects. Much more important than the total duration is the regularity.
If you need an exemplary routine, take another look at the chapter above.
What’s the Difference Between Contrast Showers and Cold Showers?
The biggest difference between a cold shower and a contrast shower is the water temperature. In a contrast shower, you start with warm water and then switch to cold water. Then you set the water temperature to warm again before you finish the shower with cold water.
Can Cold Showers Prevent Sore Muscles?
No. A cold shower cannot prevent sore muscles or tension. Ice baths, however, can.
The difference is simple: in an ice bath, you cool down your body to icy temperatures for a few minutes. A cold shower is nowhere near as cold as the cold during an ice bath. (Source)
Should I Take a Cold Shower When I’m Sick?
No. A cold shower activates your body. When sick, your body focuses on fighting the illness. If you cool your body temperature down, your body has to keep your temperature constant, which can be an additional burden when you’re sick.
What Are the Downsides of Cold Showers?
Cold showers have no disadvantages in the strict sense. However, before you take a cold shower, take precautions and inform yourself. If you belong to one of the following risk groups, you should avoid taking cold showers completely:
- High blood pressure
- Coronary heart disease
Depending on your state of health, a rapid temperature difference can lead to complications. Among other things, it can lead to a heart attack or stroke. If in doubt, first consult a doctor.
You should consider that cold showers are rather a supplement of traditional treatments and not a replacement.
Is a Cold Shower After Workout Healthy?
A cold shower is healthy in general. That also applies to the time after sport. Proper ice baths can even prevent sore muscles. You can read the difference between an ice bath and a cold shower above.
Should I Take a Cold Shower Before Bed?
Many report that a cold shower is supposed to help you fall asleep. A cold shower before going to bed has a relaxing effect and can even cause deep sleep phases to normalize and prolong (Source). This, in turn, improves the quality of your sleep and makes you feel better.
If you need help falling asleep, take a look at our detailed article.
When Should I Take a Cold Shower?
There is not one perfect time for a cold shower. Depending on the advantage you hope to gain, the timing needs to vary. If you want to use cold showers as a wake-up aid, we recommend taking a cold shower in the morning. Otherwise, there are no guidelines.
Taking a cold shower is healthy and has many advantages. However, it is not a silver bullet for all health problems. A cold shower is a supplement for a healthier lifestyle.
To enjoy the many benefits, you need to take regular cold showers. It must become part of your daily routine to have a long-term effect on you and your health. Therefore try to establish a certain routine.
We know that a cold shower can be daunting. However, the many benefits outweigh the bad sides and make it a desirable goal.
Don’t be discouraged if you struggle in the beginning to endure the full time. You will soon realize that taking a cold shower is about your mental attitude rather than your physical resistance to cold. At least for shorter showers.
With the right mental attitude and mindfulness, you can manage to stand in ice-cold water for up to 10 minutes or more. Meditating can also help you to deal with the panic and fear of the upcoming cold shower.
Again, if you are not sure whether you can take a cold shower for health reasons, consult a doctor.
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