Health Benefits of Cold Showers

By sandy
Reviewed: dr. vanta
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. Goldman, Robert. 'Cold Showers May Improve Circulation And Productivity.' WorldHealth,
  • 2. University of Copenhagen The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. 'Scientists discover the switch that makes human brown fat burn energy.' ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2020,
  • 3. Davey, Declan. 'What Are the Benefits of Cold Showers? | Wim Hof Method.' Welcome to the Official Wim Hof Method Website, 29 June 2016,
  • 4. Buijze, Geert A. 'The Effect of Cold Showering on Health and Work: A Randomized Controlled Trial.' PubMed Central (PMC),
  • 5. Lindberg, Sara. 'Cold Shower Vs. Hot Shower: Benefits, Post-Workout, and More.' Healthline,
  • 6. Ward, Marguerite. 'Are Cold Showers Good for Your Health? Doctors Discuss.', 14 Mar. 2019,
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Those in need of a quick pick-me-up may opt for a cold shower to clear the fog and get back on task. But not everyone seems to find this a great way for a boost. Others turn to caffeine and sugar if they only need a short burst of energy.

But a cold shower is so much more than just a refreshing lift. It also happens to have a positive impact on important bodily functions such as circulation. Other benefits include short-term boosts to the immune system and an increase in overall wellness.

1. Improves Circulation

Circulation is an important factor in overall health as it gets oxygen-filled blood to the cells. It also transports blood stripped of oxygen back to the heart to start the process again. If the circulatory system doesn’t work efficiently, it affects the organs and the body’s extremities negatively.

Cold showers improve beta-endorphins, which encourage a stronger circulatory system. Not only can this boost energy levels, but it can improve organ function.1Goldman, Robert. ‘Cold Showers May Improve Circulation And Productivity.’ WorldHealth, Circulation is also important in terms of regulating the heart rate and steadying the resting heart rate.

Cold Showers

2. Targets Brown Fat

While fat is a topic of discord for many, brown fat enjoys a position of power. The activation of brown fat is known to facilitate weight loss, and cold immersion is needed for this fat to get activated.

Cold showers reduce the body temperature, and if the body is exposed to longer stretches of cold every day, it’s likely to activate brown fat. Brown fat is important in the process of thermogenesis, or heat generation. This process promotes weight reduction and may help improve blood sugar levels.2University of Copenhagen The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. ‘Scientists discover the switch that makes human brown fat burn energy.’ ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2020,

3. Improves Your Mood

One of the body’s best responses to the cold is the activation of the nervous system. While this could have an adverse effect and place the body in fight-or-flight mode, positive reassurance allows the brain to relay a message that everything is well.

This shock to the nervous system releases adrenaline and provides a “rush” that is known to enhance mood and provide clarity. While this is no replacement for therapy, it allows a brief mood boost.

Cold Showers

4. Targeted Focusing

Self-proclaimed cold immersion guru Wim Hof highlights the importance of a cold shower for those who want to increase their body’s natural alertness.3Davey, Declan. ‘What Are the Benefits of Cold Showers? | Wim Hof Method.’ Welcome to the Official Wim Hof Method Website, 29 June 2016, This includes focus and willpower, which are both important factors of prolonged attention.

This can be beneficial to students or those who have focused jobs. The discomfort brought on by the cold water allows the body to fully wake up, which is needed for complex tasks. It also encourages deep breathing, which allows oxygen to travel through the body more effectively.

5. Reduces Sick Days

Building up the immune system seems to gain a short-term boost with cold showers. A study found that those who had cold showers every day reported a 29 percent drop in self-reported sick leave.4Buijze, Geert A. ‘The Effect of Cold Showering on Health and Work: A Randomized Controlled Trial.’ PubMed Central (PMC),

While this only lasted for a period of up to 90 days, it can be helpful for those looking to maximize their work or college days leading up to an important project or exam. It should also be noted that a healthy diet and exercise regimen needs to be followed.

Cold Showers

6. Faster Recovery After Sport

Sport is known to increase the heart rate and body temperature, among other things. A cold shower not only allows the body to cool down sufficiently but also cools down the muscles, which speeds up the recovery process.

For athletes, this goes a step further, and it’s not uncommon for them to soak in an ice bath after an event. The regenerative process is sped up during a cold shower, which means fewer aches and pains after the event.

7. Pain Management

Some types of pain can only be managed with ice packs and cold compresses. A cold shower might also have a soothing effect on the body and is lauded for its anesthetic-like qualities.

A cold shower might also be a temporary pain relief measure until a more permanent solution is found. This is because the cold water slows down the signals between pain receptors and can cause a brief soothing effect.5Lindberg, Sara. ‘Cold Shower Vs. Hot Shower: Benefits, Post-Workout, and More.’ Healthline,

Cold Showers

8. Improves Breathing and Heart Rate

That initial shock of adrenaline as the cold water hits the body allows it to take a longer, deeper breath. It also has a positive effect on the heart rate, which slows down to accommodate the longer breath.

For the body, deeper breaths and lower resting heart rates are far healthier as it places less pressure on the body. Although stress hormones are increased briefly during the exposure to cold, they do decrease afterwards, helping a person feel calm and relaxed.

9. Soothes Itchy Skin

A cold shower can provide much relief for itchy skin brought on by conditions such as eczema and allergies. Cold water slows down the communication between the nerves, which allows some respite from the itching.

While it may not seem worthwhile to have a cold shower for that brief respite, one session might have a number of benefits. The relief from the itchy skin, a reduction in pain and an improved mood are all benefits.6Ward, Marguerite. ‘Are Cold Showers Good for Your Health? Doctors Discuss.’, 14 Mar. 2019,

10. Important Considerations

Cold showers may seem like a simple enough process to shed a few pounds or simply kickstart a wellness routine. However, it’s advisable that those with heart diseases consult their physician before attempting a major lifestyle change.

It’s also worth noting that cold showers might not be as effective in cleaning the skin. Participants may want to start with a lukewarm shower to cleanse and then switch to a cold shower to rinse.

Cold Showers

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