Is Cold Shower Actually Good or a Myth?
Aren’t we all familiar with cold showers? I mean, suddenly this topic is on a rage and everyone is talking about its benefits. Before you actually start to take them on regular basis and give it a place in your routine – I believe you’d like to go a bit deeper regarding this. A little bit more knowledge wouldn’t hurt, would it?
Is Cold Shower Actually Good or Myth?
Cold showers may really do you a bit good sometimes by giving you a sense of relief in burning hot weather, but can it actually give you all those benefits that it says it would, or it just gives you a quick trip to catch a cold? And are all cold shower benefits myth? For this post, I've done a bit research and let's all take a look at what I've found.
cold shower benefits myth:
The benefits of a cold shower that we're hearing every day is being widely bought by people. It is said that taking cold showers regularly will improve your ability to handle cold and help you to control your nervous system. Didn’t we all want to be superheroes when we grow up! Moving on, the internet tells us, taking cold showers can be said as a shortcut to level up your body. This list goes way on. To debunk some myths, I’ve chosen some from the top.
- 1Increases ability to burn fat and calorie
- 2Gives you better skin and hair
- 3Recoveries muscle better and quick
- 4Increases the production of testosterone
- 5Increases immunity system
- 6Gives you better sleep
Why They Are Myths?
1. Increases Ability to Burn Fat and Calorie: This theory is based upon the discovery of a tissue called brown adipose tissue, also known as brown fat in the human body. Unlike the white blood cells which stores calories for future use, brown fat cells burn calories to keep a stable body temperature. One study shows that after getting triggered by cold temperature, only an ounce of brown fat cells can burn up to 250 calories and there you have your chance to be skinny.
I wish it was as simple as this. But unfortunately enough, it's not. It's true though, they do help burn calories, but in a very insignificant manner. A research took place at Maastricht University which required 11 people to stay in a cold room for 24 hours and charted the result. Guess what they found, a whole day in cold exposure burned additionally only 76 calories on average.
A pound consists 3500 calories approx. Which isn't a smart deal as you can see, do a workout schedule instead. Point to be noted that the production of the brown fat cell is genetic. Some people have more brown fat cells than others and there is a variation of the rate in burning fat cells also.
So, cold exposure does boost your metabolism and burns fat, but not enough to make your body lose fats fast. You'll need more than a shower to do that.
2. Gives You Better Skin and Hair: Who doesn’t like nicer skin and hair and wouldn’t it be wonderful if you are provided with a way to preserve them. The internet tells us that it is possible to do that with cold showers. They are said to do this by tightening skin pores and sealing the natural oil on your skin and hair, keeping them smooth and shiny. As by shrinking skin pores, dirt cannot jam in and pave way for pimples, acne to be born.
Those claims may be valid to some point, but it’d be too far-fetched if we just reach a conclusion here, since there is no solid reasoning to back this hypothesis up. Pore sizes are genetically determined, to look younger though, using vitamin C, tretinoin creams etc. would prove to be more fruitful. And just cold water doesn’t seem to make the cut. Neither do we have logic's on cold water preserving your skin oil, it may not be impossible but on the lack of reasoning, we can't be sure.As there is no good enough argument behind this, it can’t be said for sure that cold showers leave positive impacts on our hair and skin.
3. Recoveries Muscle Better and Quick: Muscle soreness is a real pain and we want to get rid of it as fast as possible. If cold showers are offering it, so why not? Hold your horses for a minute, it indeed is true that ice bath can speed up the recovery of workout and also reduce soreness of muscle. But do notice the ice in ice baths, that means just immersing yourself few minutes in water colder than room temperature doesn’t actually count; thus won’t produce similar results. In contrast, regular exposure to cold water can significantly reduce muscle growth. Which obviously would be a nightmare if your gym.
A study in the University of Queensland, researchers have found that taking ice bath twice a week for three months can reduce your muscle gain about half a pound. It happens because cold water blocks the signalling of molecules responsible for muscle growth, blood flow; hurting your body’s ability to create new muscle protein. Not quite what you expected, eh?So, ultimately ice bath does reduce muscle soreness but hampers muscle growth in the process, and cold showers probably can do neither of them.
4. Increases the Production of Testosterone: Supposedly cold showers are said to increase the production of testosterone levels. This theory may be based on a research which shows that sperm cells function better in the cooler seasons; winter, spring, than they do in warmer ones. There could be a various reasoning behind it, but the researchers concluded that this probably happens because of a kind of an annual circadian rhythm which affects fertility and not cold exposure, sorry to burst your bubble.
In contrast, it may reduce them! A research on runners and cyclists in Alaska showed that they have higher cortisol level, which is stress hormone and a type that you’d want to keep low, comparatively low testosterone level. Colder than average temperature may be good for testicles but it’s not clear if the only cold shower is enough to have that impact.Therefore, there is no reliable evidence that exposure to cold, let alone a few minutes shower can enhance your ability to produce testosterone.
5. Increases immunity system: Similar to muscle recovery, advocates of cold showers also claim that it improves your immune system. This claim does have a slight backbone of a sort. A study shows that winter swimmers tend to have more antioxidants in the blood which results in more resistance to germs and sickness.
Also sitting in cold water thrice a week for six weeks can slightly boost your white blood cells count, though it had no visible impact on the immune system. The research which did had routines including, standing barefoot for 30 minutes on snow, lying bare-chested for 20 minutes on snow along with swimming in ice cold water for several minutes and so on.
But it still doesn’t exactly prove that torturing yourself with cold will do your immune system any good and make you less prone to sickness, it just tricks a few chemicals in your body to enhance body temperature and may even fight off a few infections. This claim sounds more like wishful thinking than truth to believe that cold showers will give you the similar result as immersing yourself in Siberian water.
6. Gives You Better Sleep: This one really caught me off guard, because if you ever took cold showers you’ll know it makes you feel more awake, and that's why it’s recommended in the morning. You can't expect the cold shower to do both; making you feel alive in the morning and sleepy at night! When you take a cold shower before sleep, your body reacts to it by activating the sympathetic system.
Followed by releasing a chemical named nor-epinephrine which initiates heart to pump blood faster so muscle can act faster, liver and pancreas produce more glucose to energize you to face the threat, blood vessels shrink and muscle increase the intake of glucose and brown fat tissue activates to burn to burn more fat and produce more energy. Now, all these processes are totally on contrary to make you feel sleepy. When the sympathetic system has the lowest activity that’s when you fall asleep.So, if you really want to take a shower before sleeping, take the warm one. Because it signals your core temperature to drop and eventually making you fall asleep. This is why insomniac people use hot water bags under feet to get sleepy.
For example, it can really charge you up for the day. Just that, the promises mentioned above has no legit evidence to defend them, this doesn’t hold water. Before actually taking this up as routine and expecting the results claimed by the internet, do a bit digging yourself; you’ll see what I’m talking about.