Conventional wisdom has taught us to be not too fond of the cold. Walking through the winter New England weather, we see citizens bundled in the warmest attire but why? For comfort? So we don’t get sick? Truth is, exposure to the cold (now I’m talking cold shower therapy now) can actually be a healthy regimen to add to your daily routine to regulate your internal temperature and strengthen your immune system.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits:

Improved Blood Circulation: Warm water sends blood to the skin whereas in cold temperature, blood flows to your organs for protection to keep them the warmest. Sorry no studies found on this one as it’s the body’s natural physiological response to cold conditions.

Lower Stress: A study done in 1994 on swimmers during an exposure to cold stimulus showed a drastic decrease in plasma uric acid concentration.

Source: Uric acid and glutathione levels during short-term whole body cold exposure

Better Hair and Skin: There’s actually a myth floating around that hot water opens your pores, while cold water closes them. Lets shatter that myth right now because pores do not have muscles and can’t open or close. Hot water does have its purpose in loosening all the dark spots that are clogging up your pores but it can also dry out your hair and skin by stripping it of its natural oils.

Mood: Cold showers can stimulate noradrenaline secretion in the brain, which is associated with improving mood disorders such as depression.

Source: Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression

Improved Immunity: Studies have shown that cold showers cause an increase in white blood cells, higher concentrations of plasma, T helper cells and lymphocytes. In short, it activates your immune system to fight off pathogens.

Source: Effect of winter swimming on haematological parameters

Source: Improved antioxidative protection in winter swimmers

Increased Testosterone Levels: Studies show a cold shower can improve testosterone levels and keep it elevated throughout the day.

Increased Energy: Cold activates our fight or flight response(sympathetic nervous system) which triggers that adrenaline rush. Now obviously, we don’t want to be in figh tor flight mode throughout the day but for that quick pick me up in the morning or whenever you’re feeling fatigued, this is a great little hack.

Source: Possible use of repeated cold stress for reducing fatigue in chronic fatigue syndrome: a hypothesis

Weight loss: Studies show that exposure to cold can stimulate the growth of brown fat which the “good” fat that burns energy and keeps us warm. There have also been studies showing that shivering for 10-15 minutes is equivalent to riding a bike for 1 hour!

Source: ‘Good’ brown fat stimulated by cold, study shows

Source: Shivering ‘as good as exercise’ for producing brown fat

Give it a go!

Author: Benjamin Tran, RN-student