What’s better: Hot or Cold Showers? – Trust us, there’s a difference
I love a good shower. There’s no better way to start or end your day than washing the past 24 hours away. Even though I love the occasional scaldingly-hot shower, I’ve heard through the grapevine that cold showers might have a multitude of health benefits. So, can the temperature of your shower drastically change how your body reacts to this practice? Let’s find out.
A hot shower can actually lower your blood sugar and blood pressure, as well as improve blood circulation. This was demonstrated in a recent study done by Loughborough University. Additionally, hot showers have been proven to help people fall asleep faster as it relaxes the muscles in the body as well as the skin, opening the pores and allowing excess oil to escape (which could cause acne). This effect of opening up the pores also leaves the skin feeling more moisturized as the warm water leaves the skin moist for longer than cold; this can also help alleviate some cold/flu symptoms, such as headaches and a stuffy nose, as the steam will open up your nasal passages and open up blood vessels in the head.
The most striking effect of cold showers taken 2-3 times a week is that it helps relieve symptoms of depression as shown in a clinical trial. The cold water releases endorphins and acts as gentle electroshock therapy, sending electrical impulses to your brain which “increases alertness, clarity, and energy levels” (myheatworks.com). Taking a cold shower 2-3 times a week can increase metabolism and help fight obesity over time. The reasons for this are still unclear, but experts speculate that the cold water could even out hormonal levels which helps the gastrointestinal system. Like hot water showers, regular showers with cold water can also help improve circulation as the frigidness forces the body to increase its core temperature, making the circulatory system more efficient (this could also result in better-looking skin!). Athletes have been aware of this benefit for years; bringing the temperature of an area of the body down speeds up the process of replacing stagnant blood with freshly oxygenated blood which in turn speeds up recovery time. Lastly, a jolt of cold to the bloodstream stimulates leukocytes, a white blood cell that helps fight off infections in the body. A study even indicated that taking cold showers regularly can make patients more resistant to cancer. A clinical trial in the Netherlands showed that people who took cold showers were able to attend work more often than the control group due to the fact that they experienced fewer illnesses.
If you’re a frequent hot-showerer, testing out cold showers is something easy that you could implement in your schedule to give your body a little boost. Many sources highlight that you don’t need to take a cold shower for longer than 10 minutes, so you could try taking your hot shower and then enduring a momentary blast of cold water at the end. If you’re thinking of implementing cold showers, like any new habit, make sure to ease into it. Don’t just jump into it cold turkey.