Taking cold showers has become a popular health trend in recent years. Proponents claim that exposing your body to cold water provides both mental and physical benefits. However, there are also some potential downsides to consider before hopping into an icy shower. This article will examine the proposed benefits and risks of cold showers to help you decide if it’s right for you.
Quick Answer: Why you should not shower with cold water?
There are a few key reasons why showering with cold water may not be advisable for many people:
- Can cause hypothermia if too cold for too long
- Can be uncomfortable and stressful on the body
- May exacerbate some medical conditions like asthma or circulatory issues
- Increased risk of injury if muscles tense up and spasm
- Cold temperature constricts blood vessels limiting circulation
- Can lower sperm count and fertility in men
While brief cold exposure may provide some benefits, prolonged or extreme cold can be harmful for many individuals. It’s best to start slowly and see how your body responds before making icy showers a daily habit.
What are the proposed benefits of cold showers?
Here are some of the most commonly touted health benefits of taking cold showers:
Improved circulation – Cold water causes blood vessels to constrict forcing blood to core organs. Rebounding blood flow when you get out provides a boost to circulation.
Strengthened immunity – Brief cold exposure activates the immune system providing an anti-inflammatory effect. May help reduce sick days.
Increased alertness – The cold triggers a shock response releasing norepinephrine and cortisol hormones to make you feel energized.
Enhanced weight loss – Your body burns more calories trying to warm itself up after a cold shower. Helps activate brown fat.
Improved hair and skin – Closing cuticles and pores can reduce hair breakage and help skin retain moisture.
Eased depression – Stimulates release of beta-endorphins and may have an antidepressant effect for some.
Boosted willpower – Dealing with short discomfort builds mental toughness and self-discipline.
These potential benefits have led to many devotees of routine cold showers. However, there are also some risks and disadvantages to consider.
What are the potential downsides of cold showers?
Taking cold showers, especially on a daily basis, does come with some cautions:
Hypothermia – Prolonged exposure to cold can drop core body temperature dangerously low.
Stress on the body – The sudden cold causes strain on your cardiovascular system. Should be avoided by some.
Aggravated medical conditions – Can exacerbate circulatory disorders, asthma, and inflammatory diseases.
Increased injury risk – Muscles can seize up and spasm in the cold leading to falls or pulls.
Reduced circulation – While rebounding blood flow occurs after, prolonged cold restricts circulation.
Lowered fertility – Cold exposure may reduce sperm count and motility. Not ideal for trying to conceive.
Worsened muscle soreness – Some evidence icy baths may hinder muscle repair and increase post-workout soreness.
Uncomfortable – Even cold shower proponents admit they are not always pleasant to take. Requires willpower.
Disrupted sleep – Being too cold before bed can make it harder to fall and stay asleep.
Understanding these cons can help determine if routine cold showers fit your lifestyle and health needs. Always consult a doctor if concerned.
Who should avoid cold showers?
Cold showers are not recommended for everyone. Here are some individuals who should exercise caution or avoid them altogether:
– People with heart disease, Raynaud’s disease, diabetes or blood pressure issues.
– Anyone with asthma or breathing difficulties – cold can trigger attacks.
– Those with autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis that are aggravated by cold.
– People with known circulatory problems that restrict blood flow.
– Elderly individuals who are more susceptible to hypothermia and falling.
– Babies or young children who cannot regulate body temperature well.
– Women who are pregnant – raises risk of premature labor.
– Anyone on medications that impair shivering – lowers ability to warm up.
– Individuals with anxiety disorders or significant stress that is worsened by cold exposure.
– Those attempting to build muscle mass quickly – cold may hinder optimal hypertrophy.
Listen to your body’s signals. Discontinue cold showers if you experience any concerning symptoms and be sure to clear it with your physician if you have any medical conditions.
What temperature water is too cold?
How cold is too cold when it comes to showering? There is no definitive temperature threshold, as tolerance varies by individual. However, here are some general guidelines:
– Below 55°F (12°C) is considered a cold shower and requires caution.
– 50-60°F (10-15°C) is cold but tolerable for most healthy adults for short periods.
– Below 50°F (10°C) extreme cold starts to set in and can become dangerous if exposed too long.
– Below 41°F (5°C) is very high risk for hypothermia, even in small time frames.
– Below freezing, 32°F (0°C) can induce hypothermia in just minutes. Never shower with icy or freezing water.
The colder the temperature, the greater the shock to your system. Listen to your body and don’t force yourself to tolerate excessive cold. Know the temperature of your water and start with cooler rather than outright cold showers. You can gradually acclimate over time if desired.
Tips to stay safe if trying cold showers
If you want to experiment with cooler showers for potential benefits, here are some tips to minimize risks:
– Start gradual – begin with lukewarm and reduce temperature slowly over weeks.
– Limit time to 2-5 minutes max for very cold water. No more than 10-15 minutes for cooler showers.
– Avoid full cold exposure at first – try ending shower with 30-60 seconds of cold.
– Adopt a calm mindset – anxiety and panic worsen cold’s effects. Breathe deeply.
– Warm up immediately afterwards – dry off, get dressed and keep moving to revive circulation.
– Avoid showering cold when sick, exhausted or stressed.
– Have a warm towel and clothing ready before cold exposure.
– Monitor your body’s reactions closely. Stop immediately if experiencing issues.
– Consult your doctor if you have any medical conditions or concerns.
With proper precautions, you may be able to safely experience some of the touted benefits. But never force yourself to tolerate excessive durations or temperatures.
The bottom line
In most cases, the potential minimal benefits of routine cold showers do not outweigh the more substantial risks and downsides for the majority of people. There are less extreme ways to boost circulation, mental strength and immunity through exercise, diet and other lifestyle habits.
While occasional short cold exposure can be safe if done carefully, making frigid showers a daily habit is unnecessary and could be detrimental for many individuals. Always consult your physician before attempting if you have any medical conditions or concerns. Listen closely to your body’s signals when experimenting.
Overall the hype around frequent cold showers is exaggerated. Nothing magical happens in those minutes of discomfort. For most people focusing on general health, happiness and slow but steady self-improvement is the wiser, warmer and ultimately more beneficial path.