Why I Take Cold Showers
When you hear someone talk about taking a cold shower, it’s usually related to cooling down a fire in your loins (if you know what I mean). Thankfully, this is not the reason I take cold showers.
For the last six months or so I have taken cold showers. I can only think of one or two times where I turned on hot water in the shower. Literally every shower I take is as cold as I can get the water. My water at home is pretty cold, but not as cold as the water at the gym…and the Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center has ice cold water in the showers. No matter where I take the shower, the first few seconds is tough. It always takes my breath away and I never just hang out in the shower – I get clean and get out. I’m covered in goose bumps and if I’m not coming off of a workout, it takes my body a while to warm back up.
So why would I do this to myself day in and day out?
- Reduce Inflammation
- Lower body fat
- Lower blood sugar
- Improve adrenal function
- Control thyroid levels
- Enhance immune function
- Improve sleep quality
- Increase pain tolerance
- Increase hormone levels
- Improve fertility (not that I need this)
Showering the body with cold water releases a hormone called adinopectin. It breaks down fat and shuttles glucose into muscles (which can lower blood sugar). This not only has a muscle repair effect, but it also enhances recovery. It’s also worth nothing that low adiponectin levels have been associated with obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Cold exposure also stimulates norepinephrine release – which creates a rise in the circulating levels of a substance known as interleukin-6. This substance plays a very important role in improving your immune system.
Cold exposure can also cause blood glucose to be burned rapidly as fuel to assist in heating the body.
I also take an ice bath after really hard workouts. The post-workout ice baths help prevent excessive inflammation. While some inflammation and swelling is an important part of the healing process, too much can delay healing and recovery time. Ice reduces metabolic activity in the muscles, making them better able to resist the damaging effects of the loss of oxygen associated with inflammation.
So these are just a few of the many reasons why my showers are now icy cold and only around 5 minutes long. The ice baths are more like 10-15 minutes, but since only my lower body is submurged, they are not nearly as uncomfortable.
Here are a few links to studies yo back me up on this:
Cold exposure increases adiponectin levels
Cold exposure and glucose turnover
Cold exposure boosts immune system
So don’t be scared to take a cold shower. It will make that cold water at the pool or lake seem very warm!
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