Done correctly, deliberate cold exposure can positively affect brain and body health. I will describe some of the benefits on this page.
Build up gradually, don’t start off at extremely cold temperatures. Just as with other types of exercise, you’ll need to find the right temperature for you, yet prioritize safety.
How cold is cold enough?
It makes sense to ask this question. However, there is not just one right answer. Some people tolerate colds better than others. The key is to aim for a temperature that makes you think: “This is too cold; I want to get out! (but I know can safely stay in.)” For some people, that temperature might be 15°C, whereas for others, 4°C.
The good news is that as you do deliberate cold exposure regularly, you will be more comfortable in the cold at all times and can start to use colder temperatures with more confidence, just like exercise.
Ice bath or cold shower
Cold exposure training is often associated with ice baths or cold water immersion to the neck. Those are best, but cold showers can work too. And they are more accessible to most.
Training the mind
By forcing yourself to embrace the stress of cold exposure as a meaningful self-directed challenge (i.e., stressor), you develop skills that carry over to situations outside of the deliberate cold environment. It helps you cope better and maintain a calm, clear mind when confronted with real-world stressors.
Other benefits of cold exposure
- More energy, alertness, and focus
- Improves quality of skin and hair
- Immune system boost
- Supports weight loss
- Faster muscle recovery after a hard workout
- Stress relief
- Enhancing your mood
A cold shower in the early morning may not really sound inviting. Still, it’s not a bad or crazy idea to simply turn the tap to cold. After the initial shock which may make you gasp for air, try to focus on getting your breathing under control again. Slow it down and extend your exhalations. This will help optimize your oxygen uptake and handle the temperature. An improved blood flow to your brain will make you more alert and provide you with an energy boost. Now that’s a fresh start to the day!
The best natural way to keep your hair and skin healthy is to take a cold shower. Hot water can dry out your skin. When your skin comes into contact with cold water, your muscles, and blood vessels contract. Your pores will also close better, keeping dirt at bay.
When the body comes into contact with cold water, our blood is pumped more effectively to important organs. This reaction is a primal instinct of the human body. It prevents your heart and other major organs from becoming hypothermic. The blood pressure will go down and the metabolism increases. Because our body is suddenly exposed to ‘extreme’ cold, it has to prepare to defend itself.; the immune system gets a boost. The results of various studies even show that more white blood cells are produced when the body is regularly exposed to cold showers – these are our body’s fighters against viruses.
Cold shower stimulates your metabolism in a special way. Our body has two types of fat tissue: white fat and brown fat. White fat is the kind of fat we store when we eat more calories than we burn. This fat will usually be stored in our waist, back, neck, and thighs.
Brown fat, on the other hand, is very important for our bodies. It will be activated in (extremely) cold circumstances to keep us warm. Taking a cold shower promotes the production of brown fat, research has shown. In addition, brown fat will give your metabolism a big boost, so you’ll burn more of the stored white fat while at rest.
Many top athletes immerse themselves in an ice bath after strenuous exercise. It is said to be a very effective way to reduce muscle pain and prevent the onset of muscle pain. A cold shower after a tough workout at the gym could have the same effect.
Taking cold showers can lower stress levels and it can even help prevent illness. It can increase glutathione, one of the body’s most powerful antioxidants, which protects our body against free radicals and decreases the levels of stress.
A cold shower improves our mood as it provides a boost of adrenaline and endorphins. These hormones give us uplifting feelings. Scientists even claim that your senses are suddenly so extremely stimulated by the cold that they can help fight depression.
Simply decide to do it! Two minutes per day will already offer you the benefits. Just start with a few seconds and build up gradually to approximately 2 minutes after a week or three.
Increase the duration day by day. Start with a quick jump under the cold water, scream for help (if you like), and then get out of the shower again. The next day, try again. Now focus on slowing down your breath by extending your exhalation. Try to stay under the cold shower for 2 breathings (2 inhalations and 2 exhalations). On day three try to breathe three times. Again: extend your exhalation. And so forth until you manage to stay approx 20 breathings under a cold shower. You’ll notice that once you manage your breathing to be slow and with extended exhalations, the sensations of the cold are not so intense anymore. Good luck! Please let me know how things are going.