The Chilly Health Trend: Are Cold Showers Worth the Hype?
by FARUK IMAMOVIC | VIEW 562
Social media has been buzzing with a new health trend lately - cold showers. Many celebrities and health experts have been touting the benefits of taking a plunge into ice-cold water. According to Dr. Alex Trevatt, a clinical manager at Avon Aesthetics and founder of medical education company Medistudents, he has become "a big fan of cold showers" and recommends them to his patients to improve their well-being.
Improved Circulation: A Slow and Steady Process
Dr. Trevatt explains that taking regular cold showers can gradually improve circulation. "Cold water immersion has been shown to constrict blood vessels and then dilate them, leading to improved circulation," he tells Best Life.
The Cleveland Clinic also supports this notion, adding that "the cold water puts your circulatory system into overdrive." The shock of icy water causes the body to pump blood to vital organs and constrict blood vessels near the skin's surface.
This process stimulates blood flow, which is a good thing for overall health. The Clinic did note that there are other, more comfortable ways to increase circulation, including a 10-minute walk.
Reduced Inflammation: Cold Water as a Remedy
Trevatt suggests that if you suffer from inflammation or swelling, regular cold showers can be beneficial. "Cold water exposure has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, improving overall health and alleviating certain conditions such as arthritis," he says.
Some athletes use ice water immersion after intense training to reduce soreness and inflammation. "When you're in cold water, your blood vessels constrict, so there's less blood flow to the area, less swelling and inflammation, which leads to less pain," adds Dr.
Tracy L. Zaslow, an orthopedic specialist.
Immune System Boost: A Cold Shower's Hidden Benefit
Cold showers have been shown to strengthen the immune system. A study published in the medical journal PLoS One in 2016 examined the effects of cold water exposure.
"Cold water exposure has been shown to increase the production of white blood cells, which help to boost the immune system and fight off illness," explains Dr. Trevatt.
Improved Mood and Attention: The Mental Boost
The mental benefits of taking a cold shower are among the most consistent.
Experts say you can expect increased attention and improved mood. "Cold water exposure has been shown to release endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood-enhancers," says Dr. Trevatt.
Risks and Precautions
Although cold showers have several benefits, they can also put a strain on the body.
It is recommended to consult with a doctor before trying this method. "If you are trying it for the first time, take your time and acclimatize, slowly reduce the temperature over days or weeks," advises Dr. Lee Hill, an exercise physiologist and postdoctoral fellow at the Research Institute for the McGill University Health Center in Montreal.
Taking cold showers regularly has several potential health benefits, including improved circulation, reduced inflammation, strengthened immune system, and improved mood and attention. However, it is important to take necessary precautions, including consulting with a doctor and gradually adjusting to the cold water temperature.