Just the thought of a cold shower in the morning can give most people goosebumps, especially when the temperature outside starts dropping. But give it a try, and you’ll soon agree that bathing with cold water can do one a world of good. And it isn’t just our grandparents’ generation that swears by it, the ancient Greeks and Scandinavians also did, just as our own Sadhus and Yogis. Or, if you’ve read the famous James Bond series by British author Ian Fleming, you’d know that every time Bond took a shower, he’d start with hot water but finish with cold — something that’s also known as the James Bond Shower.
So, as we slowly approach the winter months, here’s finding out from experts — Dr Mohsin Wali, cardiologist and a former honorary physician to the president of India, and Dr Vinayak Abbot, naturopathic — about why one must bathe with cold water.
1) Improved blood circulation
Cold shower causes the blood to move to your organs to keep you warm, whereas a hot shower causes the blood to move towards the surface of the skin, reversing the effect of a cold shower. Bathing with cold water also makes your arteries stronger, clears blocked arteries and lowers blood pressure.
2) Healthier hair and skin
Hot water is the reason why your scalp itches and skin is dry, and has rashes. Cold shower can tighten your cuticles and pores, preventing them from getting clogged. It can also seal pores in the skin and scalp, stopping dirt from getting in. Also, cold shower makes your hair shiner and skin cleaner as it doesn’t strip the skin of its natural oils.
According to studies, those who prefer a cold bath have a high percentage of white blood cells, and high metabolic rate. Reason: As the body tries to warm itself up during a cold shower, it releases white blood cells while activating the immune system.
4) Muscle recovery
The reason why athletes take a cold shower after a game or a workout is because a cold shower helps relieve muscle soreness. It also helps in preventing delayed-onset muscles soreness.
5) Heightens alertness
The deep breathing that occurs as response to the cold water pouring over us — to keep us warm — increases our intake of oxygen. Hence the phrase ‘A rush of blood to the head’. This gives us an energy boost for the day, keeping us alert.
6) Combats depression
Due to the immense impact on cold receptors on the skin during a cold shower, the body sends a huge number of electrical impulses from the nerve endings to the brain. This produces anti-depressive effect, boosting your mood. It has an analgesic affect.
7) Eases stress
A jump into cold water can increase your body’s tolerance to stress. Your body’s production of gluthathione — an antioxidant that keeps other antioxidants performing at their highest levels — increases.
How to go about it
If you aren’t used to cold showers, you need to first acclimatise your body. Start by slowly decreasing the temperature of the water, and your tolerance for cold shower will get better by the day.
A word of caution
Avoid a cold shower if you have:
-High blood pressure.
-Feel overheated or feverish.