Ten Health Benefits of Cold Showers

By Jordan & Kyla Miller

Contributing Writers for Wake Up World

How many of us can actually say that we take regular cold showers? If you’re from a colder climate, the number is likely to be even less. However, cold showers and baths have a long history in many cultures, and for good reason. Vincenz Priessnitz, a farmer in the 1920s, developed and marketed a medical treatment he called hydrotherapy. He sold the concept of using cold water to cure a long list of aliments, and achieved almost instant success. As the 20th century moved along however, the popularity of hydrotherapy began to decline and falter when medical professionals began to rely more on drugs to treat illnesses and the luxury of hot showers began to increase. However, the use of hydrotherapy as a viable medical treatment never completely stopped. Here are 10 of the many reasons why:

Ten Health Benefits of Cold Showers

1. Strengthens Immunity

Cold showers are sometimes touted as a preventative tonic for colds, flu, and infections. An experiment in Prague studied the effect of cold water immersions on athletic young men. They immersed themselves in water at 14 °C (57 °F), three times a week for six weeks. Among many changes, they saw increased levels of two types of white blood cells: monocytes and lymphocytes. While certain lymphocytes are instrumental in eliminating bacteria, viruses, and toxins; monocytes are indirectly responsible for the engulfing and consuming of pathogens and foreign materials. Researchers believe that the increased metabolic rate, which results from the body’s attempt to warm itself up, activates the immune system and releases more white blood cells in response. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that people who take regular cold showers are less likely to develop colds, flu’s, and even some forms of cancer.

2. Improves Blood Circulation

Good blood circulation is vital for overall cardiovascular health. Alternating between hot and cold water while showering, is an easy way to improve circulation. When exposed to cold water, our arteries and veins constrict or tighten. This process is called “vasoconstriction”. The tightening helps blood to flow at a higher pressure as now there is less space for the blood to flow, meaning circulation will improve. “Vasodilation”, the opposite effect, and is done when we are exposed to heat. The natural tendency of the body when it is exposed to cold is that your blood rapidly circulates to your vital organs to keep them warm, hence increasing your overall blood circulation. Why should you be conscious of having good circulation? Well, it prevents such problems as hypertension, hardening of the arteries, and the appearance of varicose veins. Good circulation improves the performance of your system and thus help looking and feeling better.

3. Regulates Temperature

Cold showers provide a gentle form of stress that leads to thermogenesis (internal generation of body heat), which in turn activates the body’s adaptive repair systems. If you suffer from chronically cold hands and feet, or feel that you sweat an abnormal amount, try a cold shower.

4. Promotes Weight Loss / Increases Metabolism

Brown fat, as opposed to white fat is heavily involved in burning energy. Exposure to cold naturally stimulates the production of these brown fats. These cells burn glucose to try and produce as much heat energy as possible. Having a higher amount of brown fat leads to more energy being burned per second and therefore, more weight is lost. As a result of the increased brown fat levels, and the increased blood pressure and body temperature, chemical reactions in the body will happen faster than they would have without regular cold showers. An increased metabolism is what a lot of people seek for because it means that any process in the body will become more efficient; meaning more weight loss will be seen and more growth/repair of muscles and otherwise will be seen.

5. Alleviates Depression

Depression is yet another thing that cold showers can help and prevent. Research at the Department of Radiation Oncology at Virginia Commonwealth University indicates that cold water has a stimulating effect on the brains “blue spot”, the main source of noradrenaline for our bodies. Noradrenaline is a chemical that might be used to help alleviate depression.

6. Improves Lymphatic Movement

The lymphatic system is a system of tubing separate from our blood vessels that is responsible for carrying away waste from your cells as well as help fight pathogens (disease). Unlike blood vessels, the lymphatic system does not have blood, it has lymph, which carries away waste products and white blood cells which handle infection. Also different from blood vessels is that the heart does not pump lymph around the body like it does the blood. The lymph relies on the contraction of muscles. This contraction squeezes the lymph up to the thoracic duct so that the lymph can mix with the blood and then be dealt with by organs. Cold showers cause whole-body contraction and this works excellently with the lymph system, squeezing the fluid up through the body. If the lymphatic system is compromised and not efficient, then the fluid pools at faraway places (usually the feet). This results in what is known as lymphedema (a type of edema).

7. Deepens Breathing

What you will notice as an effect of cold showers is that you begin inhaling very deeply. This is to try and combat the stress of the shock, the vasoconstriction and the overall need for oxygen to respire and keep oneself warm. This process opens up the lungs much like strenuous physical exercise does and results in a higher average intake of oxygen, which is good for many things like not feeling tired during the day and doing better at sport or other exercises.

8. Keeps Skin and Hair Healthy

It is well known that hot water dries out our skin and hair. On the other hand, cold water can make our hair look shinier and our skin look healthier by tightening cuticles and pores, preventing them from getting clogged, thus reducing blemishes like acne. Cold water also contributes to detoxification which results in the squeezing of toxins and waste products out of the skin. This detoxification has a good effect on the skin which appears more clean and young. Additionally, the cold water closes the cuticle which makes the hair stronger and prevents dirt from easily accumulating within our scalp. Stronger hair, of course, prevents hair from easily falling out and it helps in slowing down overall hair loss.

9. Increases Energy and Wellbeing

There are plenty of mental benefits to ending your shower with cold water. The ancient samurai warriors used to pour buckets of cold river water on their heads every morning in a Shinto practice called Misogi. This was a purification ritual on a spiritual level. They believe that it cleansed their spirit and helped start a fresh new day. A cold shower can definitely leave one feeling invigorated and energized. The heart starts pumping, and the rush of blood through the body helps shake off the lethargy of the previous night’s sleep. Additionally, while there are not many studies to confirm, many people swear that cold showers are a definite stress reducer.

10. Increases Hormone Production

Cold water showers have the ability to increase hormone production and activity by giving the body’s glands a boost. For example, cold showers can be of great benefit to the reproductive system when trying to conceive a child. A man’s testes are not meant to get too hot; that’s why they hang outside of a man’s body. Sperm counts decrease when the temperature of a man’s testes increases. In fact, experiments done in the 1950s showed that hot baths were an effective contraceptive. Men who took a 30 minute hot bath every other day for 3 weeks were infertile for the next six months. More recently, the University of California at San Francisco did a study with men who were exposed to 30 minutes of “wet heat” (hot baths, saunas and such) a week. When the men cut this exposure out, their sperm count went up by 491%, and their sperm’s motility improved as well. While switching from a hot to cold shower may not have as dramatic an effect, if you’re trying to reproduce, it surely won’t hurt. Furthermore, it has been said that cold water therapy helps regulate the endocrine system (including the adrenals and thyroid).

How to Start

Gradually adjusting from hot to cold showers is recommended. For many, a drastic change in temperature would be too much a stress to their body. Push yourself to step outside your comfort zone, while at the same time listen to what your body can handle. A great way to implement cold showers into your daily routine is by turning the water to cold for the last 30 seconds to a minute of your shower. Give it a try and see what benefits you experience. Who knows, maybe the secret to the fountain of youth is hidden within cold showers.

Your question(s): Are you open to the idea of taking a cold shower? What about a polar ice dip? (post your comments below)


1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8925815

2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17993252

3. Essentials of Anatomy & Physiology, Elaine Marieb

About the Authors

Jordan and Kyla are passionate about health; together, they have overcome many illnesses through dietary and lifestyle changes, and the art of practicing a positive mindset daily. Kyla is currently studying to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Reiki Master, and Jordan is currently learning about traditional North American medicinal herbs, in hopes of becoming a Certified Herbalist. For more information, please visit the following sites; guidinginstincts.com, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Pinterest

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  • auro

    ha a polar ice dip. seems like the cold shower thing is cool. ha get it.. but its baby steps with a commitment. a polar ice dip represents “going big” and definitely “not home” also. a polar ice dip should puch you way past your comfort zone in an adrenaline rush. after the ice dip, you return to your shower with the water cold im sure it will be like heaven compared to what you were just in.

    This was from, another way to adapt for adrenaline junkies ^^

  • Vikki

    Forget the polar ice dip…lol but over time i have been having colder and colder showers anyway. Mostly i have just enough hot to take the main “aahh” away from the cold water. I will have to take the hot away that little bit more now.

  • Ryan

    I’ve done this for years when I was a child. Somehow, I quit doing it… tks for the article, I’ll start to take them again!

  • Octave

    Ooh I might research further and use that hot balls-baths contraceptive method some day. =3
    2×10 or so long hot baths a year seems like a fairly nice and simple solution if you’re trying not to reproduce.

  • ronin

    you mention that people did cold water baths at 14C. How about showers? What temp is sufficient to gain the benefits? Would turning the dial to the coldest setting on the shower be enough?

  • Shaa Taylor

    I LOVE the cold shower. My body has difficulty regulating temperature in winter. I have found that cold showers (for a few mins following hot) help my body stave off the cold on a winters day. I haven’t been sick for years now, I’m sure cold showers help this fact.
    As for a dip in the polar ice, I think it would be best to learn Tumo breathing before that one – an ancient Tibetan technique for super heating your body.

  • Joe Salonia

    When I begin to feel like I’m getting aching and find it hard to walk, I take a snorkel dip at Manatee Springs here in Chiefland. I snorkle to the bottom, about 30 ft. or less. Then I swim three laps from one end to the other. When that’s done, I’m cured, and feel great. In fact I was there just 30 minutes ago. If you have cuts or gashes, they heal real fast. If my ears ache I take a jar of this water home heat it a bit and rinse my ears our with a squeegee and my ears are back to normal. If your toe nails have a fungus, they become back to a normal colour in 15 minutes. The spring water is 71 degrees. This is a fact . That is why Pounce Delione if I spelled that right called it the fountain of youth.

    • Joe Salonia

      We are surrounded by springs here, filtered by the lime stones deep in the ground. Now I could easily understand why Ponce Dillione called the springs the fountain of youth. When the first explorers came here they were full of bug bites cuts, wounds etc. When they went into the springs all of these problems disappeared.

    • Chris

      I can’t believe I ran across someone from Chiefland on here. My aunt lived right past the produce check point on the left. We used to go down to the springs every summer. It was very fun.

  • Julie Eliasova

    I started to take cold showers about a week ago. It was before I read thist article. Becouse of that I started immediately with a full cold shower xD challenging, but after just three days my skin felt much better. And I also think that the metabolism thing works.

  • Karen Tabish

    My 3 year old son grandson will not bath or shower unless the water is ice cold. He has insisted on cold bathes since he was 2yrs old. I find this very strange. I have the hardest time letting him do this, but he is insistent. He is half tongan (not sure if this is relevent or not) and I have to say he is very healthy and never gets sick. His father also likes cold showers/bathes. Is this normal for such a young child to do this on his own. None of us have ever encouraged this.

  • DG

    Ive gotten to the point that my shower is not cold enough. Havent been sick since.

    • jackie

      I had a friend who lived in a cold house. She confirmed what I thought my husband, I thought, was always joking about, the water in a glass would freeze by the time you walked up the stairs in the winter. Our house when my kids were growing up was kept cooler than most peoples houses. All of these people, my kids, my friend, my husband, have seemed to be healthier than other people. Unfortunately, the friend finally was able to have a new home built and it was a warm home. Within 5 years, probably due to smoking for a lifetime, she died. I’ve always wondered if it was the lack of heat in her old house that kept the cancer in check.

  • Mohammed SETTI

    Yes taking a cold shower at morning helps you effectively squeezing fatigues and workloads during the daytime. I recommend it for all!

  • Jovan Nikolic

    I am taking cold showers non-stop for last 9 months. What is interesting, I’ve never used warm water since. I am starting and finishing with only cold water.

    As I am amateur bodybuilder, I’ve noticed improved stamina, energy levels and muscle pump. My concentration is on top so I can read and learn easily, enjoying regular daily activities on much higher level.

  • Kristin

    Does anyone have any information on the pros/cons of a cold shower while pregnant? Just curious. I know hot tubbing is out, and I see no potential negatives here, but better safe than sorry…

    • Darkon

      I read on another website while researching cold showers that is was not recommended for pregnant women because it stresses your body out too much.

  • Glen PDQ

    Epigenetics, as opposed to genetics, can change how our certain genes are expressed, even in up to 2 generations of future offspring. I wouldn’t be surprised if habitually taking cold showers, baths, or dips in cold rivers or lakes can upgrade the general health of a person’s future offspring. Things like poor dietary choices can negatively affect how genes are expressed and thus also affect offspring.

  • Steve

    I read somewhere that the steam that is inhaled while taking hot showers could possibly be harmful to your health. It has to do with chlorine that’s in the water. Solution: Add a good shower filter and take only cold showers.

  • marian

    I started finishing off showering cold around 12 years ago..every time I shower..I read this in an article in a health magazine where they were doing this to the children of chernobyl to help boost their immune systems…I had tick typhus and ended up with rheumatoid arthritis and mainstream medicine informed me I would be on anti-inflammatory drugs for the rest of my life…so I decided to try the the finish off cold shower method…I found it took the pain away and within one month I was feeling alot better…and within 6 months I was totallly cured…I find in winter it is fantastic too as the warm shower warms you up and the the cold shower locks in the warmth by closing the pores…I swear by it and feel amazing and can not imagine ever showering without finishing off with refreshing cold water.

  • Jo

    I heard that cold shower really helps one lose weight . Any one has really experienced this themselves ?

  • dan

    I don’t know for other benefits, but cold water certainly dispel lethargy or exaggerated excitement which i don’t like.

    Thank you for article, now I am more willing to continue with this healthy practice, which i adopted recently.

  • Sue

    I’m currently doing the teacher training course for Kundalini Yoga, and this is part of the curriculum and strongly suggested for teachers. Easing into it slowly! Interested in the info about lymph circulation, as I have lymphedema and was told that it was not reversible as the lymph channels are damaged in my legs. Yoga has helped a lot but it is still there. Going to pay attention to see whether cold showers can help!

  • eddie

    I don’t know about the rest of you but it’s WINTER and it’s freezing and like the article said in the beginning, in colder climates less people do this. I’m all up for a cold shower in the summer but there is nothing like a steaming hot muscle relaxing shower. Sure it’s lazy and incredibly relaxing which is why i’m always tired after but with the exception of having to inhale the steamed chlorine and whatever other crap is in public water, a hot shower is heaven. Switch it up I would say is the motto here.

  • Lovely post. Thanks for sharing

  • Ashley

    I started taking cold showers a few months ago when I read that shaving with cold water is actually a much better method. I also had stayed outside in the sun too long and had a pretty good sized sunburn. The sunburn was a good way to take the shock away from turning the hot water nearly completely off. Even with the burn gone I dont think Ill ever go back to the hot showers again!

  • Shannon Mann

    Cheers for the information. Personally, I never take cold showers except during the hottest of summer days, but after reading some of the benefits here, I may try to have a cold shower more often.

  • Sandra Hurt

    I start with warm water for just enough to open up the pores then switch to cold. I started doing this ’08 when I was diagnosed with hidradenitis suppurativa (a skin). When the weather is hot I just use cold water only.

  • Jim in Sai Gon

    Do cold showers come in a pill form?

  • Great stuff… I prefer cold shower..As it is better for our hair and skin. Where a hot shower can dry things out, cold showers hydrate and help with split ends and dry skin.

  • RedstonePlethora

    I’m a Boy Scout, and I will be going to Philmont soon. They choose some people to wake up really early in the morning and jump into a freezing-cold lake. I’m “warming up” (pun intended) by taking cold showers every night. :3

  • April

    This article is mostly crap, the writer either did no research or really doesn’t know anything about blood circulation. Not saying that cold showers are bad because they do feel good but the rationals that are given are incorrect information.

  • rick millward

    I recycle my rinse water and often take showers in It with a bucket; today the water temperature was 45 degees because my thermostat is set at 55 degrees. Now I know how cold the winter showers will be and I’m loving it. As a child we took showers collected in cattle troughs from rain and it really woke you up.

  • I’m glad to hear an other article on the benefits of using cold temperatures for weight loss. Asrai’s Touch Fat Freezing Body Wrap is a home procedure that uses cold thermogenesis to reduce body fat. Your article helps others to see what cold can do for one’s health in many different ways. Thanks