Most of the time being told you need to take a cold shower isn’t a good thing, but if you knew the health benefits associated with one you might think differently. That’s right, taking a cold shower every morning comes with a plethora of benefits. I’m talking cold, like ICE COLD kind of cold. For the last year, I have been making cold water immersion (CWI) a part of my morning routine by jumping in my unheated pool first thing every single morning. As a part of my early morning exercise I would swim hard and fast for about five minutes to really get my whole body moving and my heart really pumping. The health benefits of early morning exercise are great but not the topic here; it’s the cold water I was doing the exercise in.
Yes, even in Las Vegas it gets pretty cold, especially in the early mornings. If you follow me on social media, you may have seen a video of me jumping in my pool around this time last year when it was nearly 40º water. If you ever seen the Netflix documentary on Tony Robbins – I’m Not Your Guru , you may remember seeing him doing CWI or Cold Water Plunges in a specially built pool outside his Florida home. The reason is that cold water immersion comes with an enormous number of health benefits. I’ve now moved into a new home this year with my beautiful wife and adorable little girl but we gave up our pool. Doesn’t matter, you don’t need one. Your shower will do the trick and much easier to regulate the temperature year round. As a fitness professional and amateur athlete, I knew the great impact that CWI had on muscle recovery but not to the full extent of all of the health benefits involved. Not until I spent nearly a year practicing CWI, did I fully understand the advantages.
1. CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
When you first immerse yourself into cold water or jump into that cold shower, it hits you and feels like it sucks the breath right out of you as your heart begins to race. Well, it doesn’t feel like it, it actually does do that but thats a good thing. Your heart is actually trying to pump blood to your organs as fast as possible to keep them warm. Those deep gasps of air are to try and take in more oxygen so that the heart can pump oxygenated blood faster. Improving cardiovascular circulation is primarily done through exercise and a healthy diet but cold water can force the heart to increase its output similar to exercise.
2. BOOSTS METABOLISM
In addition to pumping your heart harder, your body begins to increase your metabolism in efforts to warm your body as well. Burning calories actually does generate heat and will raise your internal body temperature. In efforts to warm you up, your body can burn up to 500 calories just by taking a cold shower. A great way to start your day with a supercharged metabolism and jump start your weight loss journey.
3. INCREASES RESILIENCE TO STRESS
The moment you step into cold water your body begins to fight the stress associated with the cold. When done repetitively, your body begins to become more resilient to the cold as you continue. This translates not to just to cold water, but any and all stress placed on the body and even in the mind. Not only do you become more resilient to new stress but cold water showers can lower levels of uric acid, reducing your stress overall.
4. BETTERS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
One of the other reasons that resilience to stress improves is due to the increase in your immunity. Research shows that daily exposure to cold water can increase your white blood cell count and improve your lymphatic system, both integral parts of fighting off disease and infections, as well as removing waste from the body.
5. FIGHTS DEPRESSION & ANXIETY
Similar to exercise, it is nearly impossible to be in a depressed state while in cold water. Cold showers have been shown to fight depression and anxiety in multiple studies. Seriously. It may seem superficial and like a quick fix, but it really does work. That’s because your brain releases a number of different neurotransmitters or chemicals that make you feel great like dopamine and endorphins. Research suggest that routine CWI may be more effective than antidepressant medication.
6. SPEEDS MUSCLE RECOVERY
There is a reason why athletes, trainers, and elite military use ice baths and cold water during training. It works. Cold water speeds muscle recovery and reduces inflammation. The immense cold causes vasoconstriction in the body, removing lactic acid, and reducing the perception of pain. Make a cold shower a part of your morning to combat the soreness of a new exercise routine in the new year.
7. INCREASES TESTOSTERONE
Cold water immersion has been shown in studies to increase testosterone in men. The male hormone has many health benefits and levels tend to decline as men age. An increase in testosterone results in an increase in strength, muscle recovery, energy levels, and libido.
8. IMPROVES SKIN APPEARANCE
Hot water can actually dry out the skin and remove the oils from your skin. The reason you may feel a bit itchy after exiting the shower if you tend to use hot water. Cold water can keep the skin’s natural oils more regulated and reduce acne and other skin irritations. The same is true for your hair. Cold water causes the hair cuticles to remain flat and closed, making hair stronger and shinier.
9. INCREASES ENERGY & ALERTNESS
It doesn’t take a scientist to realize that a cold shower is going to wake you up. However, the effect isn’t short lived and you should expect to feel more energized throughout the day with improved brain function and alertness.
So, next time you jump in the shower avoid cranking up the heat and shoot for a temperature in the realm of cool. At the end of that shower, drop the temperature to something closer to freezing (between 55º to 60º is ideal). Start with 10-20 seconds of exposure before existing the shower and work your way up to a few minutes. These amazing benefits come from such a simple action you can implement into any daily routine no matter who you are or what your goals may be. Make 2018 an amazing year with a little cold water immersion every single morning. For more on daily morning routines and rituals that bring immense health benefits and set you up for great mental clarity and focused success, pick up a copy of my new book Relentless State of Mind.