Ice Cold Advice for Your Well-being
Taking a cold shower, unless it is a sweltering hot day, does not sound like a desirable practice. Research, however, shows that those who took a cold shower regularly, took fewer sick days than those who did not. A study from the Netherlands revealed that those who finished their daily showers with 30-, 60- or 90-second blasts of chilly water, were less likely to take a sick day at work.
Cold water didn’t keep participants from being sick, but those who took cold showers (roughly 50 degrees Fahrenheit) experienced more mild symptoms and had more energy, which allowed them to power through work days rather than stay in bed. NOTE: if you go to work feeling a little crummy, please wash your hands and don’t cough on any of your co-workers. I recommend the ‘cough into your elbow’ method for coughing or sneezing. That way you keep your own germs rather than spreading them when you shake hands, touch doorknobs or other items where germs can be transmitted to others.
So, why does taking a cold shower help us stay healthier?
- Cold also stimulates our circulation which may boost our overall heart health and improve our immune response. Jumping into the shower without letting it heat up, or going into the ocean without slowly acclimating to it, can increase tolerance to stress or disease.
- Cold showers stimulates our brown fat. The human body contains two types of fat tissue, white fat and brown fat. White fat is accumulated when we consume more calories than our body burns. This body fat piles up at our waist, lower back, neck, and thighs. Brown fat is the good fat, which generates heat to keep our bodies warm, and is activated when exposed to extreme cold. Because cold stimulates brown fat, it can be an aid in weight loss.
- Cold showers have been shown to relieve symptoms of depression due to the intense impact of cold receptors in the skin, which send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from the peripheral nerve endings to the brain. The result is a nice mood booster. A 2008 study confirmed the analgesic effect of cold showers to combat depressive symptoms.