Don’t worry: taking a cold shower could be a lot easier than you think. And since a growing body of research shows why (and when) it’s good to be cold, this simple at-home health trick might just be your next favorite self-care hack.
Support Immune Health and Improve Your Mood One Cold Shower at a Time
A cold shower might not be right for everybody, and if you’re currently medically supervised for any reason, you should chat with your doctor before turning the dial down on your shower. That said, there is a growing collection of data suggesting that a simple cold shower could offer a range of impressive health benefits:
- May alleviate depressive symptoms: a 2008 clinical trial from Medical Hypotheses revealed mood-boosting benefits from taking a cold shower for 5 minutes just 2 to 3 times per week
- May support the immune system: in 2016, a randomized controlled trial involving more than 3,000 participants from the Netherlands found that a month of daily cold showers reduced the number of sick days by nearly 30% compared to controls; cold water exposure has been shown to stimulate immune cell activity that may help people fight off cold and flu viruses
- May reduce pain: a 2014 review from the North American Journal of Medical Sciences finds that cold exposure temporarily constricts blood vessels and slow nerve impulses, therefore reducing inflammation and pain sensations
- May enhance physical recovery: for all you hard-working gym-goers out there, cold showers might help reduce that post-workout fatigue (but maybe not post-workout soreness), according to a 2017 systematic review published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Anecdotally, most people will tell you that taking a cold shower provides a huge rush of energy and alertness. So, for anyone looking to cut back on caffeine dependency, a cold shower first thing in the morning could be a perfect alternative.
And yes — cold showers do appear to give a boost to your metabolism since your body has to work harder to stay warm. But realistically, this doesn’t mean a daily cold shower will suffice for a weight loss plan.
Ready to Try Taking Cold Showers? Here’s How to Take the (Cold) Plunge
You don’t have to jump straight into a stream of ice-cold water in order to use this at-home health remedy yourself. Instead, here’s a step-by-step guideline:
- Begin your shower at your normal temperature.
- Toward the end of the shower, start turning down the temperature to as cold as you can tolerate.
- Stay under this cold water for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Breathe deeply!
Every time you shower, challenge yourself by turning the temperature down a little lower and/or prolonging the amount of time you spend in the cold. Many cold shower practitioners say it gets much easier with time — to the point that people actually start to look forward to the chill.
How cold is cold enough? A target temperature commonly cited in the literature is around 68°F (20°C), but if you don’t have a thermometer handy, then just going by feel should suffice.
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