My hot water tank blew a gas valve on Saturday night. Lucky for me, I've been having daily contrast (hot/cold) showers for the last few months, which means I could tolerate an icy cold Canadian November well water shower the last three days.
You'll shower in the cold when you have to (or maybe you won't,) but why on earth would I voluntarily douse myself in chilly water? Here are a few solid reasons why you should flip the switch to cold:
1. Promotes Fat Loss
Your body has two types of fat: brown and white. White fat stores excess calories when we consume more than we need and it hangs out around our waists, hips and thighs. Brown fat is derived from muscle and it burns calories to generate heat. In simple terms, we want more brown fat because it actually helps us burn more calories and hanging out in the cold can help stimulate brown fat.
2. Help to Repair Muscle
Post-training cold water immersion has been shown to significantly reduce the effects of delayed on set muscle soreness for better muscle recovery.
3. Improves Digestion
A cold shower causes the blood vessels in your periphery (arms and legs) to constrict and redirects the blood to your internal organs, which makes them more effective.
4. Relieves Depression
Cold hydro therapy has been linked to:
- lower cortisol levels: stress hormone
- instant release of endorphines: feel good chemicals
- instant release of norepinepherine: a neurotransmitter related to improved mood and energy levels; it also works in conjunction with dopamine, the happy neurotransmitter
- higher testosterone levels: get up and go hormone
5. Creates Discipline
This one is pretty obvious. I'm a firm believer that will power is a muscle that we must train in order to be able to use it when things get tough. Enduring a few minutes under frigid water is a simple and fierce way to develop your discipline, while gaining numerous other benefits.
6. Improves Skin and Hair
A dose of cold water helps the hair retain it's natural oils, keeping it luxurious and healthy. It can also help keep your follicles flat, which could potentially help against hair loss too.
7. Boosts your Immune System
When you hang out in a cold shower long enough, the rest and digest part of the nervous system, turns on, which also supports healing. Plus, studies show cold water immersion can increase the amount of two types of protective white blood cells (monocytes and lymphocytes) in your circulatory system to help ward off foreign invaders.
And an added bonus is that it helps you sleep! Check out this video of Paul Chek talking about the importance of sleep and cold showers
Maybe you're convinced that having a cold shower is a good idea. Here's how I transitioned into them:
- start with a warm/hot shower
- flip on the cold after a few minutes to a level you can tolerate
- make it colder when you adjust to it. Don't push it though. You don't want to turn yourself off of cold showers before you start to feel the benefits. You need to warm up to the idea.
- stay in the cold for at least 2-3 minutes
- make sure it hits your chest, neck and face for the best results
- flip back to warm if you wish, then back to cold, but end with cold. This is called a contrast shower and is a nice way to introduce it.
- permit your body to feel the sensations of "cold" and "warm" without labeling them "bad" and "good." Let it be a meditative process.
You should feel invigorated, perhaps a little pissed off, but also invigorated! I can't encourage you enough to start slow if you intend to make this part of your daily routine. You'll be a better human because of it! Much love,