As the temperature and humidity levels rise, everyone's on the lookout for ways to beat the heat. And what better way to literally chill out than by taking a cold shower? To get technical, a cold shower is defined as one with the water less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit—and, as you probably already know, it's a fast and easy way to get clean and keep your cool. But, did you know that the benefits of taking a cold shower run even deeper than decreasing body temperature and rinsing off summer sweat? Below are four game-changing reasons why cold showers are good for you beyond merely offering satisfying heat relief—even after the dog days of summer.
It Can Give Your Immune System a Boost
They say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but did you know cold showers have been found to help boost the immune system? "Studies have shown that taking a cold shower every day in fact helps increase the white blood cells within the body," says Emma Caird, a certified fitness and wellness coach. "White blood cells help fight off infections and diseases."
Caird adds that a cold shower can also boost metabolism and increase the production of brown fat, which eventually turns into energy. If you're looking to adopt some new habits for a healthier lifestyle, taking a cold shower could be a great addition to eating a well-balanced diet and that regular exercise routine.
It Keeps Physical and Mental Stress at Bay
Imagine: You're about to go to sleep when a flood of worry splashes across your mind. Did you remember to pay your landlord? Will tomorrow's big work presentation go off without a hitch? What did you forget to cross off of your to-do list? If you're struggling with stressful thoughts like these, you might consider taking a cold shower.
"Anxiety and depression are common concerns of every person," says Amber O'Brien, M.D., a doctor at Mango Clinic. "Luckily, a cold shower has been used as a holistic approach to reducing anxiety and depression. Taking cold showers for five to 10 minutes [a few times] a week is considered beneficial for mental health."
Studies suggest that cold showers are proven to increase endorphins, your body's feel-good hormone, and decrease your level of cortisol, the stress-inducing hormone. As Dr. O'Brien says, "endorphins are released by cold showers, which then promotes feelings of happiness and positivity."
Speaking of stress, a cold shower can also help alleviate any muscle soreness you might be feeling after a grueling workout. That's exactly why so many athletes take ice baths for recovery.
It Powers Up Your Focus and Productivity
When it comes to your day-to-day routine, an icy cold shower can do even more than help manage stress or anxiety. "Cold waters also encourage your brain to increase focus and energy levels," Dr. O'Brien says. As it turns out, a chilly shower can also help you be laser-focused on your to-do list.
"Cold showers wake up your body, which helps awaken a higher state of alertness," Caird explains. "[They] keep you energized throughout the day because the shock of the cold water stimulates you to take deeper breaths. When we begin to deepen our natural breathing, CO2 (carbon dioxide) decreases throughout the body which in turn helps us concentrate more, similar to meditation."
It Does Wonders for Your Skin and Hair
Want to score dewy skin and gorgeous, healthy hair with a photogenic shine? The magic could lie in the temperature of your shower. "A cold shower preserves the natural oils on the skin," explains Debra Jaliman, M.D., board-certified New York City–based dermatologist, author, and assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "It also seals the cuticle on the hair making it shiny."
Additionally, Dr. Jaliman continues, "water that's too hot will strip the natural oils off your skin and dry it out." According to Joshua Ross, SkinLab's celebrity aesthetician, a cold shower can also reduce inflammation, swelling, and puffiness. (Read: When it comes to your skin, a cold shower is quite literally the gift that keeps on giving.)
How to Ease Into Taking More Cold Showers
While cold showers have a lot to offer, they can admittedly be uncomfortable to the uninitiated. Fortunately, Ross says that small doses can go a long way when it comes to braving a cold rinse. "Towards the end of your shower, just start gradually cooling down the water," he says. "At the very end, turn the heat all the way off and try to last as long as you can with the goal being at least 30 seconds or up to a minute. This is a great way to reap the benefits of an ice bath without having to 'take the plunge.'" Start by trying to last for 10 seconds at the end of your next shower, then brave up to 20 seconds the next time, and so on until you're a cold-shower pro.