Polar plunging and cold showers are an incredible and easy way to boost your health. It is also believed by many cultures that the benefits of cold showers are a powerful force in the pursuit of peak performance and longevity.
I'm going to guess that you aren't experiencing the benefits of cold showers. Don't worry, 99% of people aren't either.
People have become so fearful of being uncomfortable that they may actually be damaging their health and limiting their ability to perform at their best.
This is especially true when it comes to avoiding extreme temperatures. Too warm; take your clothes off and turn on the AC. Too cold; put clothes on turn on the heater.
Humans are like animals and have a built in system to regulate temperature. Avoiding extreme temperatures shuts-down and atrophies this system.
Because of this fear, many people are missing out on the benefits of cold showers and other forms of cold and heat shock therapies.
Not only that, but by not exposing ourselves to the cold and varying temperatures, people may actually be weakening their immune systems and hindering their ability to recover from intense exercise and perform optimally.
Now, before we discuss the benefits of cold showers I have to point out that extreme heat or cold will kill you.
I know you're not an idiot, but the last thing we need is to be sued because someone reads this article, then jumps into an ice cold pond and dies of hypothermia.
Moderation is key to experiencing the benefits of cold showers safely.
The Effect of Cold Showers on the Cardiovasular System
The cardiovascular system is full of tiny little capillaries that assist in the regulation of the body's temperature, along with the body's sweat glands.
These smaller parts of the cardiovascular system have tiny muscles connected to them and help the circulatory system expand and contract to move the body's fluids.
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This process regulates the body's temperature to keep it as close to 98.6 degrees as possible and also supplies our skin, hair and muscles with oxygen and nutrients to keep them healthy and functioning properly.
When we avoid high temperatures and cold temperatures we completely turn off this part of the system and potentially cause these tiny muscles to atrophy overtime.
The primary benefits of cold showers stem from turning on this part of the body to provide a "vascular massage" as some people like to call it.
4 BENEFITS OF COLD SHOWERS
BENEFIT #1: INCREASED CIRCULATION AND DETOX
Cold showers activate the muscles near the surface of the skin and around the body's capillaries and causes them to contract. This pulls blood away from the surface of the skin to deep within the body.
This is a survival mechanism, which moves blood toward the organs to keep them warm, which increases your chances of survival in a real hypothermia type situation.
Because blood in these parts of the body does not circulate well; especially as we age, regular cold showers can keep these tiny muscles strong so fresh oxygen can flow deeper into the body.
BENEFIT #2: IMPROVED EXERCISE RECOVERY
One the primary benefits of cold showers used frequently by athletes is the ability of cold showers to lower total body inflammation and help speed up recovery from an intense workout or sporting event.
Cold exposure therapy combined with rapid rewarming of the body causes a massive circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid (as described above) which can help accelerate recovery and help eliminate waste products like lactic acid.
By moving these metabolic byproducts out of your muscles, the theory is they can be more rapidly eliminated reducing post workout soreness.
Other benefits of cold showers that may help with exercise recovery include: reducing inflammation in the muscles, reducing soreness and supplying the muscles with additional oxygen and nutrients.
BENEFIT #3: IMPROVED SEX DRIVE
Several studies have shown that the benefits of cold showers can include having a positive effect on the release of testosterone and other anabolic hormones.
In these studies it was shown that cold water therapies can cause the brain to release luteinizing hormone, which is responsible for signaling the production of testosterone in the testicles.
Cold showers also causes an instant release of adrenaline which we all know creates an incredible sense of energy and vitality. The two of these combined can help increase your sex drive and overall sense of well-being.
BENEFIT #4: IMPROVED STRESS RESPONSE
According to the hormetic model: exposure to increasing amounts of stress to something like a cold shower can cause our body to adapt and become increasingly tolerant of that stressor over time.
One of the additional benefits of cold showers is that we may actually be training our body and mind to react more slowly to all stressors in life, helping us to deal with intense exercise, work stress, money troubles, etc.
Because of this, the benefits of cold showers have been used by therapists to treat conditions like panic disorder, PTSD, anxiety disorder and other issues related to an overstimulated nervous system.
Cold Showers can also cause a release of serotonin, which can cause an instant sense of euphoria.
How to start experiencing the benefits of cold showers
If you are ready to experience the benefits of cold showers for yourself, here are a few suggestions:
- Polar Plunge in a cold river or pond (preferrably in the summer)
- Take an ice bath or regular cold water bath where you can fully submerge the body
- Take a short walk outside in the cold during winter (my personal favorite, especially at night)
- Sit in a hot sauna for 5 to 10 minutes, followed by a 1 to 2 minute cold shower. Repeating this process for 30 to 40 minutes
- Finish every shower with 30 seconds to 1 minute with the shower on as cold as you can tolerate it
Again, cold water can cause hypothermia and kill you! So it is always good to utilize this hack in moderation and to do so in a safe environment.