This article is a compilation of the benefits of cold showers, as reported by different people who swear by them and various health professionals. First, I would like to highlight a comment sent to me by Gaurav Dubey (M.S. Biotechnology) of Biolitics where he cites several papers that have studied the effects of cold showers:
This 2016 peer-reviewed study was one of the first to tackle this question head-on with a small randomized control trial of daily hot-to-cold shower takers (this is also how I am engaging in cold water exposure now as part of the Wim Hof Method; hot first then frigid cold for increasing amounts of time). They found in the study that a negative binomial regression model showed a 29% reduction in sickness absence for (hot-to-) cold shower regimen compared to the control group.
This 2008 peer-reviewed study argues that humans have become too comfortable and avoid thermal exercise such as that from a cold-swim, which causes brain dysfunction. It discusses adaptive cold showers as a potential treatment for depression.
Most recently, this 2019 study showed reduced cardiac stress following cold shower after a routine workout in a hot environment.
I’ve also collected numerous comments with anecdotal evidence on the benefits of cold showers, including the following:
- Reduces inflammation (link)
- Reduces stress (link)
- Better for your skin (link)
- Improves circulation (link)
- Makes you feel more awake and energized (link, link)
- Improves willpower (link)
- Helps hormonal regulation (link)
- Stimulates the immune system (link) (EDITORS NOTE: There’s a great story in this one)
And of course, the main thing about cold showers that most people talk about is that they simply toughen you up. 🙂
I’ll continue to add to this list as more submissions come in. And if you love cold showers yourself and believe there are benefits beyond the list above, please make a submission and I’ll add it to this article.
I take cold showers regularly. After the cleanliness part of my shower at a regular warm temperature (shampooing, etc.), I finish with a few minutes of cold water to reduce inflammation from microtrauma from exercise and to cool down my tendons. Also, the cold water is an old school way to toughen the spirit, build self discipline, and invigorate you. The cold after the warm is like the northern and eastern European practice of jumping into ice water after a sauna.
--Robert Herbst, w8lifterusa.com
A cold foot bath can be your next best thing to relieve stress. This habit has been adopted by Thomas Jefferson who incorporated it into his wellness path over a period of 60 years! It is a German naturopathic cure tradition that is used for relaxation and calmness. All you need is a container and some Epsom salts. Such a bath can help improve blood circulation in the feet as well as reinvigorate you!
When you use cold water, the initial touch of cold is invigorating and leads to vasoconstriction. As a result, blood will flow toward the core of the body to preserve warmth.
--Dr. Tasha Holland-Kornegay, WellnessIRL.com
I’ve suffered from cystic acne for most of my life, and my doctor shared that frequent hot showers could be causing it. They recommended cold water for better skin care. Cold showers tighten your pores and keep your skin hydrated. I found that hot water would dry my skin out and require me to apply lotion…which would lead to greasy skin. Coldwater is a fix to all of that, and I've seen a drastic improvement in my skin.
--Isaiah Ram, AICA Orthopedics
I start my days with a 3-minute dip in our local 40 degree lake or by taking a cold shower. It is better than a cup of coffee in the morning! I used to struggle with circulation in my hands and feet, as well as tendonitis in my knees, and that is now significantly improved. Taking cold showers is also an extremely powerful tool for increasing your willpower and learning to take on whatever comes your way with an attitude of acceptance. Such a small change in my day has led to big changes in my life!
--Julie Bacon, Hot Skillet Media
Personally, I think the mental toughness element is a big one. As a recovering opiate addict, I HATE feeling cold. But the Wim Hof breathing method, which I also do every day, includes cold exposure as part of of the discipline. Thus, I willingly engage in a behavior the part of me that wants instant gratification despises, and this helps me build that muscle so to speak. I also feel consistently more awake, re-energized, happier and more creative after cold showers as well. I've noticed very dramatic and positive effects in my life.
--Gaurav Dubey, Biolitics
I can speak from experience when I say that taking daily cold showers has changed my life. It has become an integral part of my morning routine. For me, the cold shower isn’t about toughening you up, rather, it’s about building up the willpower to handle something uncomfortable. Every day for the previous five years, in the moments immediately before I step into the cold shower, I still think about NOT getting in (I always do). A cold shower is as it sounds. Cold. It is also uncomfortable. It’s this uncomfortable feeling that helps me grow as a person. Making myself uncomfortable in the present moment helps me tackle other uncomfortable moments that I come up in the future. The cold shower also wakes me up, and puts me in the most alert state of mind for the day. This is opposite of taking a warm, comfortable shower, which makes me want to go to sleep (I still take warm showers three nights a week). Since adding cold showers to my daily routine I am more productive, happier and have created healthier habits for myself. I am a huge advocate for taking cold showers.
--Damon Dietz, DamonDietz.com
I have been taking cold showers every day for the last 12 months. The first week was all about overcoming the very *very *strong urge to NOT hop under an icy cold water first thing in the morning.
But once you are over it, things get better, much better...
Benefits: My coffee consumption dropped significantly - I feel highly energetic and alert. I had no cold the past 12 months and overall feel healthy as a horse!
--Alexander Knobloch, uberbows.com
I have been taking cold showers for about a year now and have noticed that I have better energy, alertness, and resiliency to stress and infections. Normally, I would get sick a couple times a year but this year, despite COVID19 and my refusal to shelter in place, I have not been sick at all. I’ve been sleeping at lot less and have not been 100% on top of my diet in this past year, and I can say that I feel more energized and alive than ever before. I notice that when I feel like I may be catching something or if I’m feeling groggy, all I need to do is hop into a cold shower and it completely changes my state.
Taking cold showers have been found to help hormonal regulation in the body. This is probably due to the momentary shock that helps jumpstart the adrenal glands. The cold temperature on the surface of the body causes the thyroid gland to ramp up hormones for metabolism to produce heat, to raise core temperature. When this happens, the body will instantly get a burst of energy as all the biochemical reactions go into full effect. This is beneficial for those who experience fatigue, grogginess, and lethargy. If we can change our physiological state to be excited, we will emotionally be excited as well.
--Calvin Ng, Cohn Health Institute
Many Ukrainians know the famous healer Porfiry Ivanov. Porfiry was born in 1898 in a small village. He wasn’t any different from his neighbors. At the age of thirty-five, he found out that he had the last stage of cancer. Nothing could be done. Porfiry was in a lot of pain that couldn’t be helped with medication. In an act of desperation, he decided to kill himself. During a bitter cold winter, he undressed and jumped into a river that was mostly covered with ice. He didn’t drown, so he came out of the river and decided to stand outside, wet, with no clothes, so that he could catch pneumonia and die from that. He stood there, freezing, for several hours and then he went home. In the morning, he woke up feeling just fine, so he repeated the same “procedure” and jumped in the water and stood in the cold. After a month of this treatment, he had cured himself. In a while, he began teaching others to use cold for healing and became known in Ukraine as simply Teacher. If you ever see pictures of Porfiry, you will notice that in every single photograph he wears nothing but shorts. For the next fifty years he would walk only in shorts, barefoot, during any season and any weather. Exposure to cold showers stimulates the immune system. I've been taking a cold shower every day for the past ten years. Last time I had a cold was ten years ago. Before I started this practice I had colds every 2 weeks for 30 years.
--Milana Perepyolkina, Gypsy Energy Secrets
I'm the director of research at a regenerative medicine clinic in Los Angeles, and we've helped celebrities and athletes perform at their peak, physically. We've gotten the cold shower question many times, so I looked into it. We always recommend at least 2 minutes of cold shower water every day. This has been proven to boost your immune system as well as your testosterone (yes, women will benefit from this small boost too). Ideally, everyone should only take cold showers since we live in a high-inflammatory environment. But even I enjoy my hot showers too much. If you're like me, I recommend doing your morning routine under the nice hot water, then turn it ice cold the last two minutes. It'll sting, it'll hurt, and it'll wake you up for the rest of the day, improving your focus and ability to think, as well as the other benefits mentioned above.
--Austin Wolff, The Novus Center
During my time as a professional boxer, I used cold showers and ice baths to help with recovery after the intense practice sessions. Even now that I'm retired, I still take a cold shower 2-3x per week on that days that I workout. Now the greatest benefit I get from them is that they make focusing on my daily tasks much easier. I believe that if you can control your nervous system to the point where you can override the automatic response of shivering during a cold shower, you can force yourself to focus on anything. This is one of my secrets to getting so much done during the day.
--Ed Latimore, edlatimore.com
I first came across cold showers in 2012 with the 4-Hour Body book by Tim Ferriss. At this time it was my first trip to Thailand and cold showers quickly became part of my routine. With South East Asia hot and humid weather it felt really good and I could also notice it helped me recover after intense workouts. Then I came back to Europe and it was harder to keep it as part of my routine, especially during winter. So I did cold shower on and off for years but couldn't really stick to it. But recently, I added cold showers to my routine, with a big difference, now I'm journaling and keeping track of my heart rate with a Fitbit device. It helped me realize that every day I take a cold shower, I'm feeling more energetic, I'm in a better mood, and my heart rate is slightly lower. So here I am, being a cold shower advocate again.
DISCLAIMER: I have not verified the scientific validity of each of the comments above, and can’t guarantee they’ll apply to you. Please consult with your doctor or conduct your own research before making any kind of health change.