Doctiming's Blog

Cold water health benefits

There is this very interesting Bulgarian tradition: every year on sixth of January people gather near a lake or river (usually the temperatures outside are -5 to -15 degrees Celsium). Then the local priest throws wooden cross and everyone rushes to get the cross out of the water. On the same day people named Jordan celebrate.


So do you wonder if this is healthy or on the contrary - hazardous to one’s health? Can we accustom our bodies to withstand extreme colds?


Neurologically body’s receptors react to certain stimulus. If the stimulus happens once the reaction is to its maximum but if the stimulus is continuous the sensitivity of the receptor declines gradually. This means that one can habituate to certain stimulations such as pain and cold by continuously repeating certain stimulation of the receptors.  So you can accustom yourself to the cold by taking cold showers daily. Adaptation is slow process even for the tissues and organs that usually react fast to certain stimuli. If you stress your organism once and you expect quick habituation you will not get any results because it has not enough time to adapt.


We do not recommend using your bodies as icebreakers but if you decide to gradually habituate yourself with cold water you can expect the following positive results for your health:


Better immune system: There are numerous scientific researches that prove exposing oneself to temperatures below zero is beneficial for the immune system. Submerging into cold water intensifies metabolism and the immune system activates. Experiments with people who submerge in cold water repeatedly for six weeks showed increase in the concentration of the blood plasma and the number of the T-cells and lymphocytes. 


In Sweden it is a common practice to leave babies to sleep outside in the cold (like they have other alternative). These babies later on result to be more resistant to illness and have a better sleep.


Adipolysis (fat loss) – when the body is exposed to cold it needs to create more energy to keep its temperature which results in burning more fat.


Better blood circulation: if you take cold showers continuously after certain period of time this gives you better blood circulation. Exposure to cold stimulates the body to reroute the blood to vital internal organs which results in better and more effective circulation of the blood.


It is proven that cold showers relieve depression. Due to the high concentration of cold receptors in the skin the cold water sends myriad of electrical impulses to the peripheral nerve endings which “wakes up” the mind and may lead to alleviating depression symptoms.


Healthy skin and shiny hair: the cold water forces the skin pores to close. This keeps the moisture of the skin and it looks smooth and healthy. The same is valid for the hair because the cuticles of the hair close and the surface remains smooth and shiny.


Increase in testosterone: a research conducted in England shows that cold showers are related to high testosterone values. Even though it sounds unbelievable but if you endure 10 minutes under freezing cold shower you will feel more man than ever. And have in mind that hot bathtubs and showers decrease the number of the spermatozoids. That is because the spermatozoids are produced in lower temperature since the testicles are outside the body.


Influx of energy: Cold showers increase your body’s energy levels. When you turn the shower to maximum cold the nerve endings of the skin are in shock, the heart increases its rate and you start breathing more rapidly. This physiological response is way better than even the best cup of coffee.


Lymph circulation: the lymph system carries the waste products out of the cells in order to help the organism fight illnesses. Its movement is induced by muscle contraction. Cold showers provoke the body to contract its muscles and this enhances the movement of the lymph.


Reduction of inflammation: cold showers are long used by elite sportsmen in order to reduce trauma’s effects and inflammation after training. This is again due to the increased blood and lymph circulation that carry out the toxins and feed the muscles with fresh and nutrient rich blood.


Let’s go back to the Swedish babies sleeping in the cold. They are not the only ones who have better sleep because of the cold. Better sleep is the result of the relaxation of the body after the initial shock provoked by the cold.


So to summarize: the cold showers will increase your ability to withstand cold temperatures and also the body can be trained to resist more pain but this has to be done purposefully, gradually and patiently. If you go to extremes in order to get faster results this can lead to opposite effects. Habituate yourself reasonably!


Warning: This article is not medicine literature and does not replace consultations with a medical specialist. The purpose of the content is to provoke health related questions and to kindly ask you to always contact a medical specialist when looking for an advice.
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