Why all your showers should be cold
Better skin, fat-burning, possible mood boosts? Cold showers FTW.
We've all been there; a bath so hot that it takes minutes to enter, but once submerged, it's a liquid blanket we never want to leave. Or taking a shower so steamy that the walls are soaked, your skin is a tingly red and you curse the cold air that greets you when you leave it. We all love hot water so much that turning the tap to "C" seems like a punishment. Of course, for decades, high profile athletes have used ice baths as an extreme (and dubious) method of muscle recovery and cryotherapy is making it's way into the mainstream by claiming to combat weight gain and chronic conditions. But, it turns out, depriving ourselves of cold showers may actually be depriving us of major health benefits. So, brace yourself, and embrace these chilly benefits.
It actually keeps you warmer
You'd swear the opposite is true, but a cold shower is an efficient way to keep you warm on the inside. Your body is always working on keeping a normal core temperature, relative to what's going on outside of it. So when you take a hot shower, you're receiving so much heat externally, that your body strives to keep itself cool (through sweating and flushing) - which is why getting out of the shower into the cooler air is such a miserable experience. Conversely, in a cold shower, your body revs it's core temperature to keep yourself warm. Sure, the first few moments are cold, but if you can withstand the initial blast, you can feel your body turn on it's warmth.
Better for your hair and skin
If your appearance may be lacking, getting colder can lead to healthier looking hair and skin. Hot water strips your skin and hair of their natural oils, making them either very dry or - if you have already oily skin - even more oily. Cold water, on the other hand, can lock in the oil, retaining moisture along with shrinking your pores, which can reduce redness and puffiness (which is why we use cold compresses to lessen bags around the eyes). Furthermore, the cold can increase your circulation, leading to a healthier glow.
Good for your mood
Though the research is still ongoing, cold showers have been claimed to improve a slew of conditions including depression and anxiety. Stimulating the brain and nervous system, the icy blast can release adrenal hormones (keeping you happy) and control cortisol levels (helping you manage stress). On a non-scientific level, there's something about the act that is very emboldening and uplifting. First, getting enough gumption to turn that tap is quite an act of willpower and if you voluntarily get hit with cold water first thing in the morning, there's not much else that can phase you for the rest of the day.
It'll wake you up
We all have groggy mornings, but routine hot showers may actually make up sleepier. If you've ever jumped in a cold lake, you've felt that it's instantly harder to breathe. The shock to your system and instant constriction forces you to breathe deeper, increasing your oxygen intake (waking up your brain) and increasing your heart rate, improving circulation to your vital organs and keeping you more alert. You can't get that from a cup of coffee.
It can keep you healthy and fit
With the aforementioned increase in circulation comes an increase in white blood cells, helping to strengthen your overall immune system. In fact, a recent study linked cold showers to taking fewer sick days from work. Another study showed that cold showering may increase the production of "brown fat" cells, primed to help your body burn "white fat" cells, which makes up most of the fat in your body.
So you wanna cold shower?
Before you begin, there are a few things to remember. Cold showering does not have to mean freezing cold showering. A relatively cool temperature will do, you don't have to give yourself hypothermia. This also doesn't have to be a marathon shower session; while a normal 5 - 8 minute shower time would be ideal, any amount of cold is better than none at all. If you're trepidatious, you can begin with your usual temperature and then decrease the heat gradually to keep comfortable. You can also decide to shower normally, then end it with a cool rinse. But, of course, the full benefits begin when you start that tap at "C", take a deep breath, hop in and enjoy the exhilaration. Good luck and keep cool.