The Personal Kaizen team is always searching for life hacks – simple behaviors you can adopt that improve your life. Here is a simple daily habit you can adopt that will take only 30 seconds – finishing your bathing routine with a cold shower. Read on to learn the many benefits of a cold shower.
There is science behind the health benefits of a cold shower. A study from the Netherlands split a group of people into four groups. One group was asked to end their daily shower with 30 seconds of cold water, another with 60 seconds of cold water, and another with 90 seconds of cold water. The control group simply enjoyed their normal warm shower. The 3,000 participants were asked to follow this protocol for a month. Nearly two-thirds of the people asked to end with cold water continued the routine because they liked it so much.
After a three-month follow-up period, the experiments found that the groups of people that ended with cold water had a 29% reduction of self-reported sick leave from work. The duration of the cold water finish did not affect the absence.
The exact reason behind the health gains in the study is not fully understood, but there do appear to be numerous benefits to a cold shower.
Surprising Health Benefits of a Cold Shower
Studies have found there are both physical and mental benefits to taking a cold shower:
- Healing benefits. The cold water appears to activate the sympathetic nervous system and increase the hormone noradrenaline. This is what most likely causes the increase in heart rate and blood pressure observed when people are immersed in cold water.
- Increased mental alertness. Activating the sympathetic nervous system tends to increase alertness and focus. This study showed that cold water applied to the face and neck improved the brain function of older adults.
- Improved circulation. Cold water decreases blood flow to the skin. When the cold water stops, the body increases blood flow to the muscles and surface of the skin. This improved blood flow and circulation is believed to help with recovery after exercise.
- Increased metabolism. Metabolism is the process by which your body converts food and drink into energy, so a higher metabolism roughly equals more energy burned. This study found that cold water immersion increased metabolism by 350%. So a cold shower can help you lose weight!
Experimenting with Cold Showers
As I follow Rule 2: Caring for my Body and Mind, I have experimented with cold showers lately and want to share the following tips:
- Begin with a hot shower. The warm water feels great and will help you when washing and rinsing the soap out of your hair.
- Turn the water temperature down until it is cold enough to shock you. I usually get the sensation that my eyes are more open and I suddenly feel more awake and alert.
- Keep at this temperature for about 30 seconds. Spin around to expose your skin. I experimented with briefly turning the water warm again, but find it better to end with cold water.
Please let us know if you have ever taken a cold shower in the morning. If not, try it tomorrow and let us know how it goes. We believe you will experience some of the same positive benefits we have.