During the month of May, I’ll be undertaking the Cold Shower Challenge. I encourage you to join me.
Cold exposure has been long-renowned as a recovery enhancement tool used by professional athletes (mainly in the form of ice-baths, recently cryotherapy). It’s only been more recently that the health benefits of cold showers for the everyday person has been bandied around.
I’ve known about the concept for a good couple of years now and even tried a few cold showers myself sporadically. Now’s the time to give it a real crack. I’m doing a great deal of training at the moment, particularly running, and need as much help with recovery as I can get. Training recovery has traditioanlly been the key use of cold exposure so it will be interesting to put the theory to the test. Enter the cold shower challenge..
The heat generated by your body in attempt to warm you up produces a metabolic effect that burns fat.
The linked study shows the effects of cold exposure on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It appears to work for the everyday inidvidual as well.
“Exposure to cold is known to activate the sympathetic nervous system and increase the blood level of beta-endorphin and noradrenaline and to increase synaptic release of noradrenaline in the brain as well. Additionally, due to the high density of cold receptors in the skin, a cold shower is expected to send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which could result in an anti-depressive effect.”
Cold water helps to close pores. Closed pores keep your skin looking smooth and healthy, without drying your skin out as hot water can. The cold water helps keep your hair shiny and your skin soft, rather than itchy, ashy, and dried out.
A 1993 study conducted by the Thrombosis Research Institute in England showed a link between having cold baths and having high testosterone levels.
If you’ve ever been exposed to cold water, you’ll know the feeling of hyperventilating initially. This boosts oxygen intake and expands the lungs, mimicking the effects of exercise.
“Your lymphatic system takes waste away from your cells to help you fight disease. It’s separate from your blood vessels, but it’s moved around by the contraction of your muscles. Cold showers cause your entire body to contract and this forces your lymphatic system to push lymph fluids throughout your body, stopping them from pooling in one part of your body as they would if the lymphatic system were compromised or inefficient.”
Well known among the professional athlete community..
Over time, cold water exposure improves circulation. Since exposure to cold causes your blood flow to be redirected to your vital organs, your body is forced to circulate your blood more efficiently.
More so anecdotal evidence from what I’ve read. Particularly applies to night where a reduced body temperature would invoke sleep.
Yeh.. That’s a fair list of potential benefits. Well worth a few minutes of discomfort to reap all those rewards don’t you think? I imagine another benefit would be increased discipline & mental fortitude, it will almost certainly get easier as we go along.
A 5 minute cold shower everyday during the month of May, ideally first thing in the morning.
The protocol is simple..
– Turn the shower to its coldest setting
– Get in
– Stay in for 5 minutes
There you have it. Give it a go for yourself & tell me about your experience. I’ll post my results and thoughts at the end of May.
If you want to read more, these are a few of the sources I used in this article