Growing up in New Hampshire, I got used to long, shitty winters with seemingly endless gray and sleet filled days.
So a hot shower was always one of my favorite things. I would never have considered voluntarily taking a cold shower and if we were out of hot water, I would have just skipped the shower altogether.
It just seems so unnatural to take ice cold showers when we have plenty of hot water at our disposal, but as it turns out, they're pretty damn good for us!
It wasn't until last year when I started looking into cold showers as an alternative to hot ones. Not because I wanted to take them, but rather because I had been hearing about all the benefits of taking them.
When I decided that I wanted to start actually trying them, I found some great info from a dude named Joel Runyon, who runs The Blog Of Impossible Things.
He's done a ton of research on the benefits of cold showers and created a product called Cold Shower Therapy, which is definitely worth checking out. Also, download his free app, CST Challenge, which is pretty cool.
Cold Showers Suck
Seriously, they fucking suck!
I know I looked like Jack Nicholson from The Shining after my first full length cold shower and if you haven't tried taking a cold shower for more than a few seconds, then you don't know the pain you're in for.
And it's not physical pain either. At least we could deal with that for a few moments. Rather it's a mental one; a test of will. Can we stand the frigid water beating down on our bodies long enough to get any benefit from it?
Chances are you will wimp out before you are in there long enough to reap any rewards. I know I have many, many times!
And there are benefits. Quite a few actually.
If there weren't, I wouldn't wasting space here writing about it and instead would be relaxing under a scolding hot shower right now.
Why Cold Showers Are Good For Us
After doing some hands on research and spending more than a few incredibly painful minutes in freezing water, I realized that there are some pretty sweet benefits to doing it.
Here are 8 great benefits of cold showers:
1) Helps the weight/fat loss process along.
Taking a frigid shower can have an impact on your metabolic rate and causes an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure, much like exercise does. Also, the theory is that cold showers help activate brown fat, which is the "good" fat in our bodies versus the white fat, which is "bad". And if you're so inclined, you can read this remarkably uninteresting study on it.
2) Gives you a feeling of alertness.
Duh! Of course freezing your nuts off will wake you the fuck up, but it can have a lasting effect, which is very important. When that water hits us, the deep breathing we experience due to shock helps us keep warm and increases our overall oxygen intake.
Our heart rate will also increase, which releases a rush of blood through our body and gives us a natural dose of energy for the day. BAM!
3) Improves recovery time.
For guys like us (40+), this is HUGE! I can't speak for you all, but over the last five years or so, I've noticed my body needs a longer recovery period after a hard workout. Things get sore quicker, muscles are tighter longer, and nagging pains in the joints and muscles seem to last longer.
Cold showers have been shown to reduce muscle inflammation and helps relieve the symptoms of DOMS, which can make the difference between working out and skipping it.
4) Reduces stress.
What do we as fathers know about stress?!? A lot.
A quick, freezing cold shower can help you adapt to stressful situations, given the shock you'll be in when you feel that water. It also will lower levels of uric acid, and boost levels of Glutathione in your blood, which can make you less stressed overall.
5) Gives you better sleep.
Have you ever noticed that it's much harder to fall asleep or stay asleep when you're too warm? Our bodies rest better at cooler temperatures, which is why we always hear about the benefits of sleeping in a cool bedroom.
A cold shower taken an hour or so before bed can have a positive effect on the quality of your sleep. The reason is that it will lower your body temperature, which is what happens naturally after you fall asleep.
6) It can brighten your mood.
Cold showers can stimulate noradrenaline in your brain, which is associated with improving mood disorders like depression. But even if you aren't depressed, they are invigorating and make you feel alive! That's a reason to feel great, isn't it?
And plus, how can you not be in a great mood after freezing your nuts off?!?
7) Increases testosterone production.
There are quite a few ways to increase testosterone naturally and this is one of the simplest. From what I've read, a cold shower will help keep your testes cooler, which is linked to increased testosterone production.
One article I read stated that 10 minute cold showers taken in the morning and in the evening are the best way to increase T production. Even if it's all bullshit, I'm willing to take that chance just in case it's true!
And as you may know, once you start hitting your mid thirties and beyond, your T production starts to decline. So much so that I've made hormone optimization a big part of my 90 day transformation program, because without proper T production, you're pissing in the wind and wasting your time with all that you're doing in order to shed fat and get lean.
8) It gets you out of your comfort zone.
This is one of the biggest benefits for sure. As middle aged (or close) men, we love to live in our little box. The foods we eat, the jobs we work, the risks we take, the people we associate with, etc. Getting out of our heads and challenging yourself to do something new is a great way to grow as a person. It actually the ONLY way.
Longer is not necessarily better. Keep your cold shower to 3 minutes, 10 max. Anything more is just sadistic and many of the benefits can be derived in as little as 30 seconds.
And don't worry about hypothermia either, that only starts after roughly 30 minutes.
The downside to all of this is that you'll wish you were dead for most of the time you're in the water. Well that and your dick and balls shrinking to infant size proportions.
But hell, that's a small price to pay for glory!
If you're interested in taking on a cold shower challenge with me (I did not say take a shower with me), let me know in the comments and I'll plan a challenge for us all! Should be fun, right?
And as a matter of fact, I'm going to take one right now!