Holy shit, that’s cold.
Hyperventilating from the bodily shock of the freezing-cold shower, I can’t stop cursing and roaming around the tub in circles.
It’s only a 3-minute timer, I tell myself.
Counting down the minutes, I desperately look for ways to distract myself from my painful sensations.
As the timer finally goes off and my breathing returns to normal, I turn the shower faucet off quickly & instantly feel a soothing & fuzzy sensation radiating through my body.
Shaking off the grogginess of the previous night’s sleep, the rush of blood through my body leaves me feeling energized and ready to seize the day.
Ahhh…my daily love-hate relationship with cold showers.
I’m always on the hunt for brain-boosting hacks, so I was fascinated when I heard about the potential benefits of taking cold showers.
I have always acknowledged the power of an ice pack and/or ice bath to help in speeding up muscle recovery and reducing inflammation.
However, I was unaware of the cognitive & other health benefits that cold showers can have.
Cold therapy is a tool that can massively transform your life, albeit with some discomfort at first.
There are immense benefits cold showers can bring to the table, and the best part is, you can start using this technique in the comfort of your own home.
Before we go ahead and get started, I wanted to let you know I researched and assembled 47 scientifically-backed ways to achieve laser-like focus, accelerate learning, sharpen memory, & boost mental energy.
Want to check out these tips? Download my free guide “Boost Your Brain Power” here.
- Cold Exposure Lowers Inflammation
This might sound like a scientific title, but if you think about it, you knew this since you were a child.
Every time you tripped and fell, some grownup or another would bring an ice pack and tell you to keep it close to your sore limb or forehead.
Well, that’s cold therapy in action.
There are several scientific explanations for this, as well.
When your body is exposed to cold temperatures, the adiponectin levels in your blood increase.
Adiponectin is a protein that helps with preventing inflammation.
A study has shown that exercising at low temperatures can reduce the inflammatory response you would normally get when exercising in a temperate environment.
However, it seems like you should be careful when exercising in the cold.
The same study has shown that if you exercise in the cold for too long, you will actually determine an inflammatory response in your body. (1)
- Cold Exposure Can Speed Your Recovery
Cold therapy can reduce your swelling and inflammation.
This is very important for people who are recovering from an injury, as the cold therapy will speed up their recovery.
A study has even proposed that using cold therapy after a soft-tissue surgery may increase your body’s healing speeds.
This could be very beneficial for people who have a high injury risk, such as athletes or stuntmen.
Ice baths can have a positive effect on the enzymes linked to muscle damage, such as lactate dehydrogenase and creatine kinase.
By stimulating the production of these enzymes, the cold therapy could lower the muscle inflammation, and speed up the healing process involved in muscle recovery.
In a study that involved 360 people, those who submerged themselves in cold water experienced less muscle soreness than those who rested after an exercise. (2)
- Cold Therapy Can Reduce Pain
Not only did the ice packs you received when you injured yourself as a child lower the local inflammation, but it seems they were actually reducing the pain as well.
After all, it’s well-known that you should place use some ice if something hurts, isn’t it?
We know it numbs the pain.
But I was surprised to find out that this method is better at relieving pain than other popular alternative interventions, such as electronic cryotherapy pads.
So instead of using hi-tech devices, sometimes hospitals would do better with some ice packs. (3)
- Cold Therapy Can Treat Migraines
Even though most people treat migraines with a handful of pills at a time, that might not be the best way to deal with it.
The most efficient way to get rid of a migraine is to find what’s causing it and eliminate it.
Most migraines are not determined by stress, but by muscle tension.
Yes, your head might hurt because your muscles are tense.
Your head is covered with muscles, just like any other part of your body.
But some migraines can even be caused by the tension in your neck or shoulder muscles.
One way to get rid of that tension is to apply cold pads on the tense muscles.
This will make your muscles relax and it will treat the cause instead of dealing with the symptom.
In a study, 9 percent of the patients claimed that their migraines were completely removed by wrapping a cold pad around their head, 26.5 percent claimed that the method was moderately effective, and 29 percent thought it was mildly effective.
Even though this method will not be effective for some people, it still beats swallowing pills by a large margin. (4)
- Cold Exposure Can Increase Bone Health
Some studies suggest that the age-related decline of the bone system is linked with the decline in brown fat mass.
Unlike the regular white fat that stores energy and covers most of our bodies, brown fat tissue has a role in burning calories and using energy.
Brown fat can essentially make heat out of the calories it takes from food.
Studies show that, as we grow older, the brown fat starts to disappear and the bone loss becomes apparent as our bodies’ thermoregulation function is altered.
So it seems like as long as we maintain our bodies’ stores of brown fat, we can maintain our bone density from declining at the same time. (5)
- Cold Exposure Can Aid With Fat Loss
We already talked about how brown fat can produce heat out of the calories we eat.
Well, it seems like we could use this process to get rid of the excess fat that’s bothering us come beach season.
Studies show that cold therapy can increase the activity of your brown fat which leads to an increase in calorie consumption.
In fact, some researchers believe that frequent cold exposures might be one of the best solutions to dealing with the obesity epidemic.
Taking cold showers is not expensive, and most people have access to a source of cold water, so this might be an economical solution to a global problem.
Other studies have linked low brown fat levels with obesity, so maintaining a good level of brown fat might be essential to having a good metabolism and stimulating weight loss.
And the good thing is, you can increase your brown fat levels by consuming capsinoids, chemicals found in chili peppers.
You can also consume bitter melon extract supplements to help your body create more brown fat
Cold exposure stimulates thermogenesis or your body’s mechanism to warm itself, by making you shiver at times.
Shivering increases your calorie consumption.
A very interesting study exposed a group of mice to cold temperatures for four hours each day while the other mice lived at normal temperatures.
The mice that were exposed to the cold ate far more than the others, but they ended up weighing less.
Not only that, but exposure to cold temperatures lead to an increase of adiponectin, which besides lowering inflammation also plays a role in fat burning.
In another study, the subjects who were exposed to cold temperatures experienced an 80% increase in their metabolism over the control group. (6)
To summarize, cold exposure can aid with fat loss by increasing your metabolism and calorie consumption, and by increasing the activity of your brown fat reserves.
- Cold Showers Can Make You More Alert And Improve Your Mood
Everybody who experienced an unexpected cold shower can confirm that they can promote wakefulness and make you more alert.
This is why you shouldn’t have a cold shower before you go to sleep, but it’s perfectly alright to have one before going to work.
Also, if you ever experienced a cold shower, you can probably attest that having one can increase your self-awareness.
As soon as the cold water touches your body, you are completely aware of body parts you didn’t even know existed, nevermind be aware of them.
Your whole body experiences a lot of different sensations, and the result might even be comparable to something one can feel after a meditation session.
An interesting study conducted by Finnish researchers (they can handle the cold, so they study it) showed that winter swimmers experienced less fatigue and tension, and had a better mood and an improved memory when compared with a control group.
One of the reasons that might lead to these effects is the fact that cold exposure increases your dopamine levels.
An increase in dopamine can trigger a pleasure response in your brain, improving your mood.
Dopamine is also involved in the reward-motivation mechanism, which might also improve your memory.
When you turn on the cold water in the shower, you can’t run and you can’t hide.
Even though you might not enjoy it at first, you have to keep going at it and persevere.
You find that you have the willpower to push through and succeed.
And that’s exactly what cold showers can teach us.
Resilience and perseverance. (7)
- Cold Showers Can Increase Your Lifespan
A number of studies on insects have found a link between low temperatures and lifespan.
One study revealed that worms that lived in an environment that had a temperature lower by 5 degrees C than the control group lived 75% more.
Another study has shown that flies doubled their lifespan when they lived at temperatures of 21 degrees C instead of 26 degrees C.
Even fish live longer in colder temperatures.
A temperature drop of 6 degrees C increased the lifespan of fish by up to 75%.
Another study tested how mammals handle temperature drops.
A group of rats that spent four hours per day immersed in shallow water ate 50% more than the control group but weighted less.
The rats that spend their times in cold water lived for 10% more than their counterparts.
In a study made on mice, a temperature drop of 0.34 degrees C lead to an average increase of lifespan of 20%.
Researchers believe that the lower temperatures promote longevity by lowering various metabolic processes.
Thanks to the lowered metabolic processes, fewer by-products are produced, so your body has to deal with less oxidative stress. (8)
- Cold Showers Can Stimulate Your Immune System And Blood Circulation.
Your immune system is working non-stop to keep you healthy.
Even when you sleep, the immune system is busy blocking viruses from entering your body and getting rid of dangerous bacteria.
So it stands to reason that stimulating your immune system is a good thing, right?
Well, a cold shower manages to stimulate your immune system by increasing your metabolism.
When you take a cold shower, your heart starts pumping blood at a faster rate to push it through your bloodlines to every part of your body.
The increased blood flow brings more white cells to your lymph nodes and spleen, which act like filters and pluck out the things that shouldn’t be in your blood.
This is how your body gets rid of all the bacteria, viruses, and abnormal cells that end up in your bloodstream.
When you take a cold shower and accelerate your heart rate, you also lower the chances of developing hypertension and atherosclerosis.
Cold water raises your blood pressure by triggering your autonomic nervous system.
The more you shower in cold water, the stronger the response gets.
By using cold water for your showers with regularity, you may be stabilizing your circulatory system for a very long time. (9)
- Cold Showers Make Your Skin And Hair Look Better
Cold showers are a natural way of maintaining the appearance of your hair and skin.
Hot water tends to dry out our skin, so if you want to have a healthy looking appearance, you should use only cold water when washing your face.
Hot water strips the skin’s natural oils too quickly, so it will make it look frail and unhealthy.
Using hot water to wash your face can also open your pores, increasing the chances of them getting clogged.
On the other hand, using cold water will tighten your pores and cuticles, preventing them from getting clogged.
Cold showers will maintain the healthy aspect of your hair.
Unlike hot water, cold water won’t remove the natural oils that cover your hair, so it will have a shinier and stronger look.
When it’s applied on your scalp, cold water can seal the pores against dirt and debris getting in, and it will also improve the way the hair follicles grip the scalp.
- Cold Showers Can Regulate Your Blood Sugar
We already discussed that cold exposure can increase the adiponectin levels in your body by up to 70%.
Well, this protein is involved in the regulation of the blood glucose as well.
Studies have shown that adiponectin can increase the glucose uptake in the peripheral tissues by enhancing the oxidation of glucose through insulin-independent pathways.
This can be a major advantage for people who are fasting, because they can develop peripheral insuling resistance during a fast.
Cold showers can also boost your testosterone levels, which can also lead to a decrease in your blood glucose levels.
A cold shower can also enhance your body’s response to insulin because it will increase your metabolism and stimulate your blood circulation.
This will stimulate your body to clear the glucose in your blood quicker, which in turn will lower your blood glucose and increase your insulin sensitivity. (11)
- Cold Showers Can Improve Your Nervous System
The fat burning processes and the metabolic increase are coordinated by your sympathetic nervous system.
Every time you take a cold shower, your nervous system is activated to increase your metabolic processes and to stimulate your brown fat to burn calories to generate heat.
Taking cold showers is like exercising your nervous system.
The more you do it, the better your nervous system becomes at it, so it will develop a better reaction time. (12)
- Cold Showers Will Increase Your Discipline
Cold showers have a way to increase your discipline.
Just the fact that you’re willing to try a cold shower therapy will increase your mood and self-confidence.
When you first start to take cold showers, you hate them with a passion.
Nobody likes it at first.
It’s something impossible to like
But if you really focus on what you want, you build up a tolerance in time.
You won’t even feel the cold by the end of the shower.
That doesn’t mean that the water will seem warmer in time.
It only means that you will develop the mental toughness you need to ignore the cold and focus on your goals.
This state of mind is similar to what you might experience after a meditation session.
You have a clear view on what you want, and you realize that if you have the mentality and motivation to handle cold showers with regularity, you can achieve anything you want.
Not only will the cold showers convince your brain you’re no longer asleep and increase your alertness, but they will boost your energy, improve your mood, and increase your productivity.
Since your body will stimulate your dopamine production, cold showers and ice baths can lower your stress and anxiety levels, and they can even be used as a treatment for depression.
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