When it comes to making use of cold water, it isn’t a new concept. In fact it has been around for ages! People around the world have been using water therapy, or hydrotherapy, for centuries. The temperature of the water they use may have different benefits for health. And according to research, it is something many people even swear by. It really is that good! Most studies into the health benefits of cold water have found that they use water immersion therapy. During water immersion therapy, a person immerses their body, or a part of their body, in a vat of water for a specified amount of time. There have been so many ways in which you would see results that are long-lasting. When we talk of ways in which you should look into improving circulation, this is going to lead to a stronger understanding of how it actually works.
So how does the magic happen even?
When exposed to cold water, there is decreased blood flow to the skin. When the cold water stops, the body has to warm itself up, so there is an increase in blood flow to the surface of the skin. Some scientists think that this could improve circulation. A study that looked at cold-water immersion after exercise found that, after four weeks, blood flow to and from muscles had improved.There is also some evidence that a cold shower can help you lose weight. A study found that cold-water immersion at 14℃ increased metabolism by 350%. Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy, so a higher metabolism roughly equals more energy burned. Research has shown that cold showers (and exposure to cold in general), in addition to increasing metabolic rate directly, stimulate the generation of brown fat. Brown fat is a specific type of fat tissue that in turn generates energy by burning calories. Cold showers, then, are an effective tool for people who are looking to lose a few pounds.
Aside from the physical benefits, cold showers could have mental health benefits too. There is a school of thought that cold water immersion causes increased mental alertness due to the stimulation of the previously mentioned fight-or-flight response. In older adults, cold water applied to the face and neck has been shown to improve brain function. A cold shower may also help relieve symptoms of depression. A proposed mechanism is that, due to the high density of cold receptors in the skin, a cold shower sends an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which may have an anti-depressive effect.There is a fair amount of evidence that cold water immersion or having a cold shower is good for your health – even if the reasons why are still a little unclear. But before you start turning the cold tap on towards the end of your shower, you should know that there are some risks to a cold shower. Because a sudden gush of cold water shocks the body, it can be dangerous for people with heart disease and could precipitate a heart attack or heart-rhythm irregularities.
But here’s the thing having a cold shower can be a bit of a shock. It also stimulates the flight-or-fight response which increases heart rate and blood pressure. This can have a negative effect for those with heart disease as it could precipitate a heart attack or heart-rhythm irregularities. If anyone has fatty deposits in their arteries, a rapid increase in heart rate could potentially cause some of the deposits to fall off and block the artery leading to a heart attack.
Submersion in cold water can be connected to an increase in breathing as well as heart rate. But there is also a “diving response” when submersed in cold water, where the body automatically decreases heart rate and instinctively you stop breathing (in contrast to flight-or-fight responses). This conflict can cause heart rhythm abnormalities and potentially sudden death. However, this is a greater risk with cold water immersion, such as open water swimming, than a cold shower. Cold showers are thought to have mental health benefits too. It may reduce symptoms of depression. The proposed reason for this is that people have a high density of cold receptors on our skin and a cold shower activates them and sends a vast amount of electrical impulses to the brain, which may have an anti-depressive effect.There has also been research in older adults suggesting that cold water applied to the face and neck is associated with temporary improvements in brain function including improvements in memory and attention.