By Andrew Amouzou –
When it comes to shower temperature, some prefer it mildly warm while others need the water scorching hot. Those choices are easy enough. But it takes real guts to turn the shower dial to rock-bottom cold, regardless of the often-mentioned environmental benefits frigid water brings. Is the discomfort really worth it or do hot showers pack their own sufficient advantages? The experts say it’s not totally clear.
Athletes have definitely helped boost cold showers’ advocacy and their advice is far from misplaced. The primary reason for taking a cold shower after a workout or post-injury is due to its impact on vasoconstriction. PhysioActive explains that vasoconstriction indicates that the blood vessels contract, helping to flush out lactic acid built up in tired, sore arms. The site adds that micro-tears in the muscles, usually following a workout, are better treated with cold than a hot shower.
Aside from muscle repair and growth, Healthline notes that cold showers not only help wake a body up in the morning, but they can also help prevent cardiovascular disease. Proper blood circulation throughout the body, especially in deep bodily tissue, helps maintain an ideal body temperature. Circulation improves and becomes effective when heart rate increases which is the effect that cold showers have on the body.
SCL Health Organization added that cold showers can even serve as a possible natural anti-depressant. When exposed to cold showers, chemicals such as noradrenaline and beta-endorphins are released boosting overall mood, a Virginia Commonwealth University study confirms. This boosted mood ultimately can contribute to the feeling of achievement when practicing self-discipline and “self-governance”, SCL Health added.
Why is it considered self-discipline? Think about it. People embrace hot showers because they’re the more comfortable option. And for good reason.
Just as cold showers are great for heart health, so are hot showers. Medical News Today explains that blood vessels naturally widen in warmer showers which in turn improves blood flow and lowers the risk of chronic heart failure. Additionally, warmer showers effectively reduce arterial stiffness, lowering the risk of high blood pressure.
As WellWell previously reported, if someone is having trouble sleeping, it’s helpful to take a hot shower prior to going to bed. Hot water helps raise overall body temperature when showering, resulting in a decrease in body temperature afterward, therefore, influencing the likelihood of falling asleep faster.
The SB Alliance Organization chimed in by supporting the popular notion that hot showers are great for relaxing muscles and may even be effective in clearing nasal congestion. The organization added that the steam from the hot shower can loosen up the mucus eventually opening up airways and improving breathing.
Can’t decide between the benefits. Maybe go both ways. It’s not as outrageous as it seems. Dr. Sebastian Kneipp’s contrasting shower application involves just that. It begins with showering with warm or hot water and after a couple of minutes changing the temperature to cold. His development encourages two of these cycles and offers many possible benefits including strengthening the immune system, increasing blood circulation, regulating body temperature, detoxication, and improving the metabolism.
Maybe Katy Perry was on to something when she sang, “You’re hot and you’re cold.” Perhaps she wasn’t inditing anyone but rather encouraging a new morning routine.