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Not as healthy as we thought: Who and why should not take cold showers

Not as healthy as we thought: Who and why should not take cold showers What you need to know about cold shower (Photo: Freepik)

Many people are seeking relief from the heat by taking cold showers. Most studies show that this water therapy has several positive effects on the body, but it may be harmful to certain individuals.

The Very Well Health highlights all the advantages and disadvantages of cold showers.

Improved blood circulation

When the body comes into contact with cold water, it responds by increasing blood flow to vital organs to protect and preserve their warmth, while simultaneously reducing blood flow to the surface areas of the body. This enhanced circulation is considered beneficial for the body.

Immune system benefits

One study revealed that participants who took cold showers for 30 to 90 seconds over the course of a month had fewer illnesses compared to those who only took hot showers. Cold showers were also found to reduce the frequency of infections and improve the quality of life for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Weight loss

Cold water accelerates metabolism as the body tries to retain heat. A higher metabolism burns more calories than usual. Low temperatures also activate a type of fat in the body called brown adipose tissue, which burns calories.

Mental health and mood

The impact of cold activates the sympathetic nervous system and increases levels of endorphins and norepinephrine in the blood and brain. Regular cold showers can boost energy levels and significantly reduce tension, fatigue, memory problems, and bad moods. Cold showers may be effective in alleviating symptoms of depression.

Positive effects on skin and hair

Cold showers stimulate blood circulation and reduce inflammation, improving the health and appearance of the skin and hair. Cold water also tightens skin pores. While there are numerous unofficial evidence about the benefits of cold showers for the skin and hair, additional research is needed.

Who should avoid cold showers and why

Pregnant women and those with heart or lung conditions are better off avoiding cold showers without proper medical consultation. A doctor should determine if it is safe for them.

Research has shown that the effects of cold can impair cognitive functions in adults, which is another drawback of this type of shower.

Cold water also constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure and heart rate. The impact of cold water can lead to arrhythmia in patients with heart issues and cause pulmonary edema.

Not as healthy as we thought: Who and why should not take cold showers

Cold showers contribute to mood enhancement (photo: Freepik)

Which is better - hot or cold showers?

Cold showers can stimulate and energize, which is why they are often recommended for the beginning of the day. Warm or hot showers can improve sleep, making them suitable for evenings or nights.

Cold showers increase blood flow to organs while reducing blood flow to surface areas, thus reducing inflammation of joints and skin.

Hot or warm showers open blood vessels throughout the body and can reduce muscle pain and fatigue.

Some scientists suggest that you can reap benefits from both types of showers by alternating between hot and cold water or taking a 30-90-second cold shower after a hot one.

How long should you take a cold shower?

There is no need to take an extended cold shower - in fact, the benefits start to diminish after 3 minutes.

To ease the shock of cold water, try the following:

  • Start with 30-second sessions under cold water and gradually increase the time as your body adapts.
  • Avoid switching abruptly from hot to cold water; reduce the temperature gradually.
  • Try a contrast shower, alternating between 2-3 minutes of hot water and 15 seconds of cold water.