The Cold Truth: Are cold showers really better?

Many people look forward to hot and steamy showers and couldn’t imagine bathing any other way. However, it seems like more and more people are starting to hop on the cold shower train. 

From CEOs to influencers, there’s no shortage of cold shower fanatics. But are they actually better for you, or is it all in people’s heads? What does the science say?

The truth might surprise you. 

Cold water benefits

Contrary to what people might have you believe, cold water isn’t a cure-all solution. It’s not going to make you taller, nor will it help you control how many Netflix episodes you watch in a day. 

Cold showers can, however, provide you with a set of tangible benefits that warm water doesn’t offer. 

 

Quicker cooldowns 

It might sound obvious, but cold showers are a great way to cool down when you’re hot. Whether you’re sweaty from working out or are just feeling hot after a long, stressful day, a cold shower will help you feel cooler faster than a normal one otherwise would.

 

A 2015 meta-analysis found that water at a temperature of around 50° can cool you down twice as fast as warmer temperatures (1). 

 

For that to happen, however, your entire body needs to be underwater, not just your wrists or legs.

 

An immune system boost

Although research is still ongoing, recent studies seem to show that cold showers can help boost your immune system

 

One Dutch study found that a combination of deep breathing, meditation, and cold water therapy could help people improve their body’s immune response (2). Other studies seem to indicate a link between cold water exposure and antitumor immunity (3). 

 

A faster metabolism

Many influencers claim that cold showers and cold water, in general, can help with weight loss. While that might sound hyperbolic, there is some evidence that supports that claim. 

Studies seem to show that cold water therapy can speed up your metabolism. A faster metabolism helps your body burn through food faster, so it may also help with weight loss. 

One study looked at Korean women who earn a living by diving for seafood in the water surrounding Jeju Island. They found that these women had faster metabolisms in the winter, when the water was colder, than during the summer (4). 

Hot vs. cold

If you’re someone who enjoys taking hot showers, don’t feel pressured to make the switch. As long as the showers you take aren’t scalding, you’re still enjoying a different set of benefits, such as sinus relief and muscle relaxation.

Do what makes you happy and you’ll end up feeling good because of it. 

Start slow 

If you’re ready to give cold showers a try, the key is to ease yourself into them. You’re going to shock your system if you cut out warm showers altogether. 

Try starting at a lukewarm temperature then slowly turning the temperature down. Over time, you’ll find yourself able to stay immersed under cold water for longer and longer. After a while, you might even look forward to the sensation! 

 

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