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cold water coming out of a shower head

The benefit of cold showers: 9 advantages

23 Nov 2022 • 4 min read

If you’ve heard that turning the tap to blue while you’re in the shower could actually be good for you, you’re not wrong.

While steaming hot showers feel wonderful after a long day at work or a tough workout, washing your skin and hair with cold water also has many hidden benefits.

Skip to:

Are cold showers good for you?

You’d better believe it! But before you head off and start blasting yourself with ice cold water (brrrrr), have a read of this article because it guides you through some of the reasons why you actually might want to turn the temperature to cold next time you shower.

As crazy as it may sound, cold showers can do us a whole lot of good. And this goodness can deliver a wide range of benefits that are good for the body; not to mention, good for the mind too.

Feeling a bit more inclined to go channel your inner Wim Hof now? Here are some benefits to help you make up your mind….

Cold shower benefits: 9 reasons to have one

  1. They’re good for circulation

This is the No. 1 reason why cold showers should be a part of your regular routine. Wondering how they can exactly improve your circulation?

By reducing your core body temperature through showering or bathing in cold water, your body has to work harder and faster to warm itself up. It does this by increasing blood flow to the surface of your skin, therefore promoting healthy circulation.1

  1. They can soothe sore muscles

If you’ve just completed an intense gym session or played a football match with your mates, having a cold shower afterwards could help soothe tired and achy muscles.

Wondering why? It’s for the same reason that cold water impacts circulation. The cooler temperature promotes faster blood flow, allowing more blood to be delivered to areas that are sore.2

Handpicked content: Muscle recovery foods

  1. Studies show they may help depression

If you suffer from depression, cold showers could help improve your mood. Hydrotherapy has been used for centuries to relieve stress.

Having regular cold showers is thought to have the same sort of effect, as they trigger electrical impulses in the brain that help to boost your energy levels, making you feel more alert.3

  1. They can make your hair look healthier and shinier

Rinsing yourself off with cold water after you’ve shampooed could make your hair appear shinier. That’s because warm water opens up the follicles in our hair so they can be cleaned and conditioned.

Cold water, on the other hand, closes these follicles up, locking in any moisture and reducing the risk of your hair becoming dry and brittle over time.4

Handpicked content: How to get shiny hair

  1. They could support your immune system

Research suggests that cold showers could also be great for your immune system.5 By shaking your body up a bit through showering in cold water, you could stimulate the white blood cells that are present in your bloodstream.6

For an added immunity boost, why not take a supplement that’s packed with beneficial nutrients, like zinc and Vitamin C, both of which are essential for your immune system to function.

How to choose the best multivitamin for you

A once-a-day dose of essential vitamins is designed to make your life easier. So, why is it so difficult to choose the best multivitamin for you?

  1. They may help ease anxiety

That’s the conclusion of a French study that was featured in Psychology Today. It found various types of hydrotherapy, including cold, to be helpful in relieving anxiety.

Bathing in water has been linked to a decrease in the stress hormone, cortisol, as well as helping balance the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin.7

Interestingly, Thomas Jefferson is known to have used a cold foot bath every morning for 60 years to maintain his good health.

  1. They could reduce sick days

According to a study carried out in the Netherlands, cold showers can help increase productivity and reduce sick days.

Between January and March 2015, 3,018 people aged 18 to 65 took a hot shower then used applications of cold water for 30 to 90 seconds.

Meanwhile, at the same time, one research group took warm showers as usual and didn’t use cold water at all.

Although those who took cold showers were less likely (29% less likely) to call in sick for work, they didn’t report fewer sick days. The researchers concluded that cold showers might make a person’s illness feel less severe, allowing them to continue with their daily activities.8

  1. They can make you feel more alert

Taking a cold shower literally wakes the body up, and makes us feel more alert too.

The cold against our skin also stimulates us to naturally take deeper breaths. This decreases the amount of CO2 in  the body, which can help improve focus and concentration.9

  1. They may help you lose weight

Research has shown that cold showers, and being exposed to cold temperatures in general, increases our metabolic rate and stimulates the generation of brown fat.

Brown fat is a specific type of fat tissue that generates energy by burning calories.10

Summary

  • Taking a cold shower can be good for the mind and body
  • They’re good for circulation, soothing sore muscles and giving hair a glossy finish
  • They may also help with anxiety, depression and weight loss

How to take a cold shower

You might be wondering why you need us to tell you how to take a shower!

The fact is, having a cold shower that will have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing isn’t quite as simple as turning the temperature right the way down and stepping into the cubicle.

In fact, it’s best to follow these simple steps:

5 simple steps for cold showers

1

Enjoy a warm shower as you normally would.

2

Once you’ve cleaned your hair and body, turn the water temperature down a notch.

3

Gradually reduce the water temperature over a 5-minute period, so that it’s down to 20°C. 

4

Once it’s at this temperature, stay where you are for around 2-3 minutes.11

5

Take deep breaths as your body adjusts to the chillier temperature.*

*You may want to begin by just placing your feet or legs underneath the water and then slowly move your arms, torso and head under as you adjust to the coldness.

It’ll take a couple of weeks to become fully comfortable with having cold showers.

To ease yourself into it, try gradually lowering the temperature of the water ever so slightly each time you shower.12

Common FAQs

Still not sure whether you should try taking a cold shower? Here are some of the most frequently-asked questions to help you decide. 

How long should a cold shower last?

The good thing about cold showers, is that you aren’t expected to stand under a freezing cold water stream for a long period of time.

The benefits of cold showering can be (literally) felt in the space of just a matter of minutes, which is the widely recommended amount of time too.

When you first step into the shower, it’s ok to have a shower at your ‘usual’ temperature. Then, when that’s done, slowly turn the dial to cold until you start to feel uncomfortable. Stay underneath the water for around two to three minutes.

Then, next time you have a cold shower, see if you can make it that little bit colder, and stay under for one or two minutes longer.13

Don’t overdo it though, you’ll know how cold you can go and how long you can stand it for.

Is it good to have cold showers every day?

If you can hack it, and you don’t have any medical reasons preventing you from taking a cold shower, every day, then ‘yes’ it is something you can do on a daily basis. In fact some people (Wim Hof) swear by it.

However, just as you should build up to your cold shower (i.e. having your warm shower first and then turning the temperature down towards the end), build up to having a cold shower every day.

For instance, try one day a week, then two, three and four, gradually building up to a daily cold blast.

Listen to your body along the way though; you’ll know how cold you can go, how long you can withstand the cold for and how often you can do it each week.

Are cold showers suitable for everyone?

While taking cold showers shouldn’t have any negative effects (beyond making you shiver!), there are a few people who may want to hold off trying them, such as those with compromised immunity.14

Remember that taking cold showers should never be a substitute for medication or your doctor’s advice.

If you have certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, blood pressure problems or any related issues, or if you’re pregnant, you speak to your GP before taking cold showers.

What’s more, if you’re mid-cold shower, and feel dizzy or feel unwell in any other way, immediately get out of the shower.

Summary

  • Gradually work up to having a cold shower (the water should be around 20°C)
  • Aim to stay under the shower for around two to three minutes
  • If you have any health issues, especially heart or blood pressure issues, you may want to avoid them

Takeaway

As insane as the concept of having a cold shower (anything below 21°C) sounds, it’s actually something that lots of people do, for all sorts of reasons.

These reasons can range from feeling more awake in the morning and giving tired muscles a boost, to more medical reasons, such as helping reduce anxiety and possibly assisting with depression.

This one simple act is linked to a whole lot of benefits, many more than you may first think…..Cold shower anybody?

Some cold shower fans enjoy an icy cold blast as part of their morning routine to get them ready and raring to go for the day.

For more on the importance of morning routines read this article, ‘The importance of a healthy morning routine.’

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Last updated: 25 April 2022

Sources

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-shower-benefits
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-shower-benefits
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-shower-benefits
  4. https://www.health.com/beauty/benefits-cold-showers
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-shower-benefits
  6. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/white-blood-cell
  7. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/inner-source/201407/cold-splash-hydrotherapy-depression-and-anxiety
  8. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0161749
  9. https://www.wimhofmethod.com/benefits-of-cold-showers
  10. https://www.wimhofmethod.com/benefits-of-cold-showers
  11. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/inner-source/201407/cold-splash-hydrotherapy-depression-and-anxiety
  12. https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-shower-benefits#takeaway
  13. https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-shower-benefits#takeaway
  14. https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-shower-benefits#limits-and-risks
 
bhupesh-panchal

Bhupesh Panchal

Author

Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: April 2019

Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry

Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.

After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
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