The Benefits of Cold Showers (Yikes!)

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Benefits of Cold Showers Hi! I've been wanting to tell you about my experience with taking cold showers. I can also tell you I've never imagined saying those words. I am one of those people who feels like cold showers are torture and so when one of my Facebook friends said exactly that, “This is torture, Starlene, next you'll be water boarding yourself” I could relate. I can definitely understand why someone would think I'm nuts to be undergoing icy cold showers.

“Warm showers have become one of the hallmarks of comfort in our culture, so converting our showers to cold might seem unthinkable.

But what if you knew that taking cold showers could enhance your immune system, increase circulation, strengthen your metabolism, increase your antioxidant count, act as an anti-depressant, improve your relationships, and make you feel vibrantly alive?”

~Kenton Whitman – Rebooted Body

Disclaimer: Due to the way cold conditioning works, please check with your health practitioner to be sure your body can withstand a short spike of blood pressure and that your heart is healthy.

If you've followed my health journey you may recall that I was doing some cold conditioning back in March 2012 so I was already aware of some of the benefits. I lost momentum and completely stopped but several weeks ago my friend Jessica posted on her Facebook timeline about cold conditioning by taking cold showers.

Some of the things that caught my eye:

  • Helps adrenal function
  • Helps thyroid function
  • “Grows” brown fat
  • Tolerate cold better
  • Immune system works better

The author of the article, Kenton Whitman talked of how his wife had been dead set against the practice but took him up on his challenge to try it for just 8 days, and ended up loving it! And so although I really, really, really, really love hot showers and hot baths, and just the mere thought of taking an icy cold shower makes me shiver, I decided to take the plunge.

I got started the next day. First I took a quick comfortably warm shower to soap up and rinse and then I turned off the hot water. WHOOO! It is hard not to shriek from the difference in temperature but I forced myself to stand there facing the cold water (hitting me from the neck down) for one full minute. I counted one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, etc., turned off the water and was done for the day.

It is hard to turn off the hot water, knowing soon the cold water will hit my body, and it is hard to stand there in the cold water, but I feel it is helping me to handle stress in my life. I asked to work an extra 8 hours each week because my boss broke her shoulder in December, and I had been struggling to keep up with trying to do both our jobs. It is stressful at home. I think the exercise of willing myself to stand in the ice water helps because I have to consciously will my body to relax, instead of standing all tensed up.

  • 2-3 days 1 minute front side
  • 2-3 days 1 minute front side, then 1 minute back side
  • 2-3 days 2 minutes front side, then 1 minute back side
  • 2-3 days 2 minutes front side, then 2 minutes back side

When I had worked my way up to four minutes, I decided to start making a quarter turn at 1 minute intervals. So 1 minute front side, turn to the left for one minute, 1 minute back side, turn to the right side for one minute.

After working my way up to four minutes total, I decided to add on one more minute on the front side. By that time, it is almost pleasurable to stand there as my body has already become accustomed to the cold water.

Little things I notice:

  • Once I turn off the hot water, the cold water becomes even colder close to the first minute
  • It takes from 10-30 seconds to endure the cold water and stop gasping – LOL
  • I do not feel cold once I get out of the shower
  • I do feel like I am in a better mood and can cope better for the day

I have tested the water at its coldest which is only 59°F. It saddens me to think that within a few short weeks I will not be able to take my cold showers.

Wait, did I just say that?

Actually, knowing my time is limited is incentive to do it while I can.

I don't cold condition every single morning, only on the days I go into the office. And there have been days when I didn't get enough sleep and feel so grumpy and depressed that it just makes me start crying while the cold water is running over my body, because it feels like punishment… so I just skip those days. I tried cold conditioning to see if it would help my mood and I just don't know if it did or not.

What about you? Have you tried taking cold showers? Would you try it for the health benefits?

 

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2 comments to The Benefits of Cold Showers (Yikes!)

  • Diane

    Hi Starlene, I’ve been hearing about this cold shower practice called a “Scottish Shower” in one article I read, and have tried it myself. It’s been so long since I read the article I had forgotten if it shared a recommended time to stand in under the cold water. I’m wondering about a few things with regard to your experience: Why do you say that in a few short weeks you won’t be able to take cold showers? Is it that you know of a recommended schedule of intermittent cold showers? I know you live where it’s relatively warm year round. When I travel in warmer and more humid areas I enjoy a good cooling shower at the end. Do you think that taking a break during the coldest months when one lives where it gets considerably cold is a good idea? Or do you know of any research done about this? And finally what is the benefit of growing brown fat according to what you’ve read? Thank you for your feedback.

    [Reply]

    Starlene Reply:

    Hi Diane, first of all, thank you so much for your comment! ! I should go back into that post and make myself clear of why I won’t be able to take cold showers much longer than when I wrote the post, you are correct, it is because I live in southern Arizona and we have very mild winters.

    Our water tends to be warm or cold due to the temperatures since we haul our own water and store in an underground tank. Right now, the water is nice and cold and will get colder as the temperatures go down. I am able to take cold showers from now (mid-November) until about mid-May but then the water comes out of the tap so warm that we have started to turn the hot water heater off altogether.

    I have been taking cold showers the past couple of weeks. Not 100% of my showers, and I’m not spending 5 minutes in the water either. I’m just taking my regular, super fast, water conserving showers. 🙂 Since we haul our water, it is a big deal to just let water run down the drain (my husband recently drew lines in the tub so we could measure our water usage and I am proud to say I use less than 2 gallons of water showering!! That’s not washing my hair though, which I do 1x/week). We have talked about having our tub plumbing go out in the yard to water a tree but we haven’t followed through on that.

    I haven’t studied a whole lot about brown fat, and I’m going to link you to an article at Dr. Josh Axe’s site for more information: https://draxe.com/brown-fat/

    Bullet points:
    Brown fat burns calories more than white fat (as much as 5x more!)
    Decreases white fat
    Improves heart health (by decreasing cholesterol levels)
    Stabilizes blood sugar (thereby decreasing diabetes risk)

    I hope this helps! I really do feel like taking cold showers helps me in two ways: First, I notice a boost in my mood on the days that I start with a cold shower and secondly, I do believe that I am able to tolerate cold better than most people.

    Warm regards,
    Starlene

    [Reply]

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