To achieve our full potential, we cannot avoid discomfort. Doing things that might not be entirely pleasant is hard but also the key to self-improvement, and the positive feeling that comes with the success of self-improvement. Challenging yourself with ice cold showers can be very uncomfortable, but it is a great way to build self-discipline and it also has great health benefits:
The article based on the blog of the UK based Awesome Supplements.
Improved mental alertness:
You may have heard of the fight or flight response that we have when exposed to situations that appear dangerous or stressful. Our bodies release the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline to help us react to life-threatening events. So when we are exposed to cold water, our bodies will start to adapt to the environment. Our heart will beat faster, our breathing will become more rapid, and our blood pressure will become raised. Basically, we are in shock.
When we release these hormones, particularly noradrenaline, we become more alert, and our levels of concentration are given a massive boost.
When taking a cold shower, endorphins, also called happiness hormones, are also released, so it is very likely to contribute to a better overall mood. Many people who use cold water therapy reported back (check out for example the happy vlogs of cold shower challengers on YouTube) that they feel more confident and less anxious. A genuine sense of euphoria is an awesome benefit from just a few minutes of effort.
“People that are obese can’t simply start taking cold showers to lose weight without changing other lifestyle habits but taking a cold shower 2 or 3 times per week may contribute to increased metabolism. “ – says Kathryn Watson, Healthline. Again, there’s no self-improvement without discomfort and starting to take cold showers a few times a week can help to build self-discipline which is essential to fighting obesity over time.
Improved immune system:
It is thought that we produce more white blood cells and antioxidants through exposure to cold water. The more of these we produce, the better our physical resilience – says Ben Coomber, BTN Academy, in his blog. Taking cold showers can boost your resistance to common illnesses like colds and flus.
When we are exposed to cold water, the heart starts to beat more rapidly, which in turn pushes more blood to the organs, improving our circulation, brightening our skin and giving us that awesome burning sensation.
Better recovery after training:
Ice baths have always played a big part in the recovery of athletes post match/game/training. After completing an intense workout, the athletes head straight for an ice bath. As well as bringing their core body temperature down more quickly, the cold water also reduces the amount of inflammation in their muscles so they feel less sore for their next event which is usually only a couple of hours away. If you are a person who works out with high intensity, taking a quick dip in the ice can help your recovery.
Bear in mind, ice therapy is not recommended during times when an athlete is trying to build muscle and make gains, but in terms of recovery, it is still the main go-to for athletes competing and training at an intense level, especially during times of competition where recovery time is short.
Before you jump into an ice bath or start a cold shower challenge, it is good to ensure you are fit and healthy. Consult with your doctor. Although our bodies are quick to adapt to new behaviors, expose yourself to cold water slowly so that you avoid putting your body through too much immediate shock.
Slow and frequent exposure is usually best. So start with a short burst of just a few seconds and build up gradually to a few minutes. Wim Hof, also known as The Iceman, has a free app where he talks through how to start cold showers. Just do what feels right for you and don’t compare yourself to others.
Like most things we do to benefit our health and well-being, consistency is key, so in order to keep experiencing these benefits, you need to keep doing it. I know it seems cruel but it only takes a minute or 90 seconds of cold water after your normal shower – that’s not so bad, is it?