Water is the natural life giver, and we mean that in a very literal sense as without it there would be no life on earth as we know it. Our planet is made up of almost 90% water, our bodies are around 75% pure water, and so naturally it is absolutely essential for everyday life, without question. We can go for weeks, possibly even months without food, yet if we were to go more than a day or two without water, we’d be in very serious danger of dehydrating and dying. We’re fortunate because the majority of us have an abundance of water and so we can use it for purposes other than simply drinking. We all enjoy taking a shower or a bath don’t we? After a long and hard day at the office, there is no finer feeling, especially in the winter, than coming home and having a hot shower to help relax our tired and aching muscles and warm our bodies. However, studies have revealed that in actual fact, many of us have our showers far too hot and that we actually cause ourselves a great deal of damage in the process. Cold showers are very much the recommended alternative, and although the thought of a cold shower may fill some of you with dread, in actual fact it’s not that bad, and once you get used to it, you feel absolutely amazing afterwards. Besides which, switching between warm water and cold water is just as effective, and that way your shower is far more bearable. Still not sure? Take a look at these four surprising health benefits of cold showers and you’ll soon change your tune.
1. Cold showers increase levels of alertness
When many of us roll ourselves out of bed in a morning, we claim that we’re unable to function until we’ve had a strong cup of coffee, due to the natural caffeine found in the coffee, which is a natural stimulant that makes us feel more awake and more alert. Too much caffeine is dangerous and bad for us, and besides which, the more we drink the more of an immunity we build up to it so that it doesn’t actually benefit us anyways. If you’re struggling to wake up in a morning, try having a cold shower instead and by the time you step out to dry yourself, you’ll feel more awake, alert, and invigorated than ever before. As mentioned, if the thought of a cold shower is too daunting for you, you can switch between 20 second bursts of hot and cold water, or you could finish your shower with cold water, and see how long you can stand being under the cold water before you switch the shower off. At first it may be difficult but as time goes by it will become easier.
2. They help to boost immunity
Another great benefit of cold showers is the fact that they’ve been scientifically proven to help strengthen and boost the immune system of human beings. Studies have found that regularly being exposed to colder than average water temperature leads to an increase of two types of white blood cell: lymphocytes and monocytes. Combined, these white blood cells help to eliminate toxins, they destroy bacteria, they destroy viruses, they engulf and destroy foreign materials and pathogens, and much more besides, so naturally the more we have, the stronger our immune systems become. Experts believe this is down to an increase in metabolic rates, which occur due to the fact that the body tries to warm itself up, which in turn activates the immune system, releasing greater numbers of white blood cells as a response. You may not think it at the time, but by regularly taking cold showers, you’re putting your body at less of a risk of developing colds, flu, viruses, and diseases such as cancer.
3. They help boost circulation
The benefits don’t stop there however, because studies have also revealed that cold showers also help to boost and increase blood circulation within the body. As far as good cardiovascular health is concerned, good circulation is absolutely essential. When our bodies are exposed to cold temperatures, a process known as “vasoconstriction” occurs, in which the blood vessels actually tense up and tighten, which in turn leads to an increase in blood pressure because there is less available space for blood to be able to flow through the vessels. To counter this process, when exposed to warmer temperatures, “vasodilation” occurs, in which the blood vessels dilate allowing more blood to pass through them. By alternating between hot and cold water, the vessels are basically swelling up, and then tensing up. When exposed to cold temperatures, the natural response of the body is to send more blood to the vital organs, and thanks to the constriction and then dilation of the vessels, more blood is now able to be transported, meaning you get to reap all of the benefits associated with healthy circulation.
4. Helps promote weight loss
As mentioned previously, when exposed to cold temperatures, in order to try to warm itself back up, the body’s metabolic rate is forced to increase, which basically means your metabolism increases. As your metabolism is responsible for taking calories stored in food and body fat and converting them into energy, the faster your metabolism is, the more calories you burn and the more energy you have. This actually benefits you in two ways because not only are you burning calories, but the extra energy also helps make exercise and physical activity more beneficial, because you’re able to work harder and for longer periods of time. On top of that, the cold water also helps with post-workout recovery, similar to the effects created as a result of ice packs being used on injured/sore muscles.