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Why Your Next Shower Should Be Cold

A hot, steamy shower may be the first thing you think about on a cold day, but if your day has been full of stress, you may want to consider turning on the cold tap instead. The Epoch Times reports that a cold shower not only can help “cool” you down emotionally, but can increase blood circulation, address pain issues and, ultimately, leave you in a better mood.

There are numerous reasons why I believe that jumping into a cold shower is a great thing, if for no other reason than it can increase brown adipose tissue in your body — the kind of fat you want to have, as brown fat burns more energy (calories). Although your first response to cold is to shiver, your body eventually makes enough of this brown fat to take over heat production and burn those extra calories, eventually stabilizing blood glucose and even helping you sleep better.

Just exposing yourself to cold for therapeutic reasons (cryotherapy) can help achieve this, too, because during exposure to cold, your body increases production of norepinephrine in the brain, which is involved in focus and attention. Colder temperatures also help you think more clearly and researchers have found that people perform tasks better when the room temperature is set at a cooler setting then a warmer one.

This helps your mitochondria, as well, and the fact that cold thermogenesis (exposure to cold) increases the number of mitochondria and improves their overall function accounts for many of the health benefits associated with cryotherapy. Although some people like to go to spas or health clubs for cryotherapy, you can do this at home by:

  • Applying an ice pack or cold gel pack
  • Applying an iced towel (simply wet a towel and freeze it) or massaging the area with ice cubes
  • Taking a cold shower or alternating between cold and hot in your shower
  • Taking an ice bath
  • Exercising in cold weather wearing few articles of clothing
  • Jumping into an unheated pool following sauna or exercise
  • Bathing in the ocean when water temperatures are low
  • Turning down the thermostat in your house in the winter to about 60 F

That said, 30 minutes in a sauna just three times a week can help reduce your heart rate, increase plasma volume and optimize blood flow to your heart, muscles and other tissues. If you decide to try cold water immersion via swimming in an unheated pool after your sauna, be aware that cryotherapy tends to be a bit riskier than a sauna, so ease into the practice until you’re used to it, and don’t jump into water that’s too cold, as cold causes acute vasoconstriction, which can be potentially dangerous if you have a heart condition. A quick cold shower would probably be okay, but avoid ice baths or other extreme cold water immersion techniques.

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