We all have different fears. Some people fear spiders, while others are acrophobic. But there is one thing I'm sure of that makes everyone gasp: cold water. I don't think anyone gets excited about jumping into a pool of cold water. Imagine you’re taking a hot shower and suddenly the water turns cold. Doesn't that make your heart skip a beat?
I think it’s time to put that mindset and association aside. Do you want to be as cool as James Bond or as intelligent as Tim Ferris? Do you know what they have in common?
They both take cold showers!! And it’s not surprising why!
At first it feels as if you would need the willpower of Nhat Hanh (a famous Zen Buddhist Monk), but it’s really like riding a bike. The more you do it, the better you get at it. It takes a lot of willpower to grab that shower handle and turn it to the blue side. It takes mental strength to do something you've been resisting every day, knowing it won't be comfortable. But this act is going to build discipline, the knowledge that no matter how uncomfortable the current situation is, it will end, you will get through it, and you will get used to it.
Going from red to blue in the shower is a great way to build stress tolerance. This can also be referred to as body hardening. Not exactly the same body hardening that martial arts fighters use, but a similar concept. The same way your shins get used to being hit by bamboo, your integumentary and neurological system will adapt to the cold water hitting you. Ideally, you'll be better able to perform in stressful situations or painful ones.
It may seem as if taking a cold shower first thing in the morning may seem more terrifying than soothing. Give it a try, and tell me once that when cold water hits your skin and gives you that jolt of electricity, it doesn't wake you up. The first thing your body will do is have you take a deep breath; this increases your oxygen intake and helps you warm up. That oxygen is also delivered to your brain for a nice pick-me-up.
A cold shower helps with depression because cold receptors have a greater impact on your skin than warm receptors. This leads to more electrical impulses being sent to your brain. Depression is caused by a lack of stimulation, and these jolts of electricity give a cold shower its anti-depressive properties and ultimately help boost your mood.
Remember that initial deep breath when you get hit by cold water? That also causes an increase in your heart rate and vasoconstriction. If the heart is pumping out more blood, that means more blood is reaching your organs. And since your vessels are constricting, blood is going further and faster. All your organs are happy and fully oxygenated. When you take a cold shower, it also raises your metabolic rate, which in turn activates the immune system and causes an increase in the production of white blood cells. Another way cold showers help your immune system is by making you more resilient to stress. Ever gone through a stressful situation and then gotten sick afterwards? The less stressed you are, the less likely it is that you will get sick.
There clearly must be a link between cold water and muscle recovery, as most all star athletes take cold showers. There was a study done on athletes that tested the effects of cold baths on muscle soreness and recovery. Cold baths were shown to help relieve muscle soreness 1 to 4 days after exercise. You may not be taking cold baths, but a few minutes under a cold shower will also hold provide some benefits to your muscles.
In our body there are 2 types of fat: white fat and brown fat. White fat is the fat that builds up on your waist, back, thighs – all the areas we try to eliminate it from. Brown fat, on the other hand, is the fat we burn to warm the body. When we take a cold shower, we activate the brown fat and our body uses it for warmth.
There are many more perks to cold showers, but these are the main ones. For some people, the best way to do a cold shower is to slowly ease into it. Start with warm water, then gradually turn it to cooler, then cold. Others like to just hop in the cold. Both ways work fine, as long as you keep it consistent. It gets easier with time. and the benefits will kick in before you know it.
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