A few months back I came across a gentleman who goes by the name of "The ice man" (Wim Hoff) . He's a crazy Dutchman that's done some pretty insane challenges in his life time from attempting to climbing Everest in shorts to running a half marathon barefoot in snow and ice.
I found this super interesting, so after looking into the benefits of cold water immersion and cold showers it was time to give it a try for myself. For me the thought of sitting in a cold bath or taking a cold shower was hell but I was interested to see what would happen. I began washing my face with cold water in the mornings, this was a taster of what was to come, simply by switching to cold water for my morning wash made a good improvement to mood and alertness to start the day.
“After a week or so of washing in cold water I had a cold bath after a run, this lasted 3 minutes, after daily cold baths the time started to get longer, and I actually started looking forward to them. After 6 weeks I’m now doing 15 minutes and starting to feel the benefits.”
Here are a few benefits I found:
Reduced muscle Inflammation
Have you at some point in your life experienced muscle soreness from exercise or any other activity?
This is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Any form of activity that pushes you to what your accustomed to can lead to microscopic tears in the fibres and inflammation of the tissue. But cold water immersion has been scientifically proven to help counteract these side effects. Cold water lowers the damaged tissue’s temperature and constricts the blood vessels. This helps reduce the swelling and inflammation and even numbs the nerve endings to bring immediate relief to any pain.
Thoughens the mind
There is no better way to get out of your comfort zone than with a cold shower. This can also have a knock-on effect into other parts of your life. Pushing your body and mind to do things it’s not used to will be required at some point in life whether it's to reach physical, personal or bussiness goals. Cold water immersion could be a good steppingstone in achieving them.
Improved cardiovascular circulation
Exercise and diet are two well known facts that improve cardiovascular circulation but one of the benefits of cold showers is the stimulation of blood flow. The cold water causes the blood to surround the vital organs, your heart then is forced to pump more efficiently pushing blood through all of your vessels and supplying the body with the oxygen and nutrients that it needs. Cold showers or immersion on a regular basis can promote healthy blood circulation and a healthy body.
Aids weight loss
Caloric burn is increased when immersed in colder water, the cold water also acts on your brown fat stores which are necessary in controlling your body temperature by burning calories to keep you warm.
How to start
If you shower start by turning the temperature down to a point you can handle. Don't stress about how long you're in the shower to begin with anything is better than nothing to start. Focus on your breath, take big deep breaths. It will feel horrible for the first 20-30 seconds but you get used to the sensation of your skin being cold quite quickly. Practice this every day and if you feel brave enough you can increase the time. Conditioning your body and mind to accept, endure and embrace cold water can be challenging, but the health benefits in both the short- and long-run are well worth it.