10 Healthy Reasons Why You Should Take Cold Showers

Posted by Robbie Hudson on

Cold showers have many physiological and psychological health benefits. Although it can be daunting to begin your day underneath a deluge of freezing water, I can assure you that it is worth it.

10. Cold Showers: A Mental Reset to Begin the Day

To start the day with a cold shower is like pressing a mental reset button. It will prepare you for the rest of the day.

The guaranteed endorphin and adrenaline rush, combined with the small feat of overcoming something momentarily painful is a great way to start the day. It leaves you feeling fresh and happy, with a warm glow and a sense of accomplishment.

9. Burn Fat

One great aspect of wild swimming is that body fat is a welcome buffer against the colder waters. Additionally, the community encourages us to love our bodies in whatever shape and size they come!

If you do want to shed a few excess lbs then cold showers can be an effective way to help achieve that aim. The human body has both white and brown fat. White fat is created from excess calories that are stored in as a resource of fuel that can be used in the future.

river with rocks, trees and branches

Brown fat burns calories (and therefore white fat) in order to maintain an optimal core body temperature. If fat loss is a goal of yours, then regular cold showers are a great tool to help push the process in the right direction.

8. Faster Physical Recovery

If you play sports or train in any physical capacity then cold showers are a great way to stimulate more effective recovery. During exercise lactate builds up in the muscular tissue, and cold showers are an effective way to flush out excess metabolites.

wild swimmers in cold water

This allows you to recover more effectively and return to training and performing in peak condition. Faster recovery times equal more efficient training.

7. Elevate your Mood

Roger Deakin once wrote about wild swimming “I can dive in with a long face, and what feels like a terminal case of depression, and come out a whistling idiot.”[1]

The same applies to cold showers. The shock of the cold-water will release dopamine and endorphins into your body, gifting you with a natural post shower high: the perfect way to start any day!

Cold water immersion also helps to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Even Charles Darwin himself used cold water therapy when his depression left him unable to write and work.

6. Enhance your Immune System

It is common for people that start Wild Swimming and taking cold showers to notice that they stop getting coughs and colds so frequently. Cold showers are a great tactic to help strengthen your immune system. According to the Ice Man Wim Hof:

“Scientific studies have found that taking a cold shower increases the amount of white blood cells in your body. These blood cells protect your body against diseases. Researchers believe that this process is related to an increased metabolic rate, which stimulates the immune response.”[2]

5. Cold Showers Lower Stress Levels

Cold showers put you though a small, stressful situation where your body learns to react appropriately. Over time you will adapt and acclimatise and the shock of the cold will not affect you so much. Through incremental steps, you become better at coping with the stress, and this in turn filters through into everyday life. You will get better at keeping a calm head and staying relaxed about things that may have previously stressed you out.

This process is known as hardening, and works in both a physical and an emotional way. 

4. Improve your Discipline and Focus

Cold Showers improve discipline. Like tidying your bed in the morning, or flossing, they become a small positive habit that augments other useful habits to build a more constructive day.

river and the wilds swimming brothers

It takes discipline to willingly subject yourself to cold showers. Discipline is a skill that can be developed. Over time, the act of taking cold showers will have the ancillary benefit of improving your discipline in general life.

John Ruskin said that “Quality is the result of intelligent effort”, and when you are working towards a certain goal, then incremental steps in the right direction will generally help. Will cold showers secure you a new promotion, or guarantee entrepreneurial success? Obviously not. But they will add positive steps towards the larger process of staying healthy and focused towards the tasks at hand and future goals in your life.

3. Improve your Mental Resilience

Life is full of setbacks, painful experiences, unexpected problems and messy situations, and mental resilience is absolutely essential if you choose to be happy and thrive.

Adding cold showers into your life will make you physically tougher. Over time they will begin to affect and improve your mental toughness as well. I feel lucky to have been raised by a family of people that all exemplified mental toughness in their own respective ways.

When I was a child, my Scottish Grandma Wild would battle the coastal seas of the Scottish Highlands in wintertime with my brothers and my Mum. Grandma and Mum wore nothing more that swimsuits whilst we thought we were tough in our wetsuits (complete with rash vests, boots and gloves). They were both normally in the water for much longer that me and my brothers (my brothers and I) as well!

Grandma Wild cold showers

My English Grandma Martin used to tell me stories about when she sailed across the Atlantic Ocean as part of a crew of three people. Once, with the rest of the crew sick, she had to steer the boat through a storm at night for over 10 hours. When I asked her how she did it, she looked at me with a puzzled frown and replied “You just get on with it, Robbie. There’s no secret”.

Mental toughness is an underrated facet of human character, and cold showers will help you to develop it in yourself. If you are reading this, then I am sure that you already do posses this characteristic.

2. Cold Shower Help you Acclimatise to Cold Water

Cold showers are an excellent way to increase your ability to withstand the cold. If you want to be able to swim for longer periods in colder waters, use cold showers to help build up your resilience. My brothers and I swam for two hours in the Arctic whilst crossing the Moskstraumen Maelstrom. Cold shower were an essential part of my training for that swim.

Cold showers moskstraumen Arctic swim

1. Gratitude: Cold Showers make you Appreciate what you Already Have

James Joyce (below) wrote about how important it is to regularly deprive yourself of everyday luxuries in order to make sure that they are continually appreciated, and not simply normalised.

Contrasts help to heighten each end of the spectrum. The experience of warmth is meaningless without the experience of cold, comfort means nothing without understanding discomfort.

James Joyce cold showers

For example, most people regularly sleep in a bed, but how much more comfortable does your bed feel after a few days of camping and sleeping on the ground? Or how good is the simple pleasure of a warm stove fire after a day spent hiking up wet mountains?

For wild swimmers, perhaps our greatest pleasure is the ritual of a piece of cake and a warm mug of tea or coffee after a cold and refreshing swim! The everyday experience of drinking a cup of tea is heightened by the swim itself.

cold showers outdoor cooking

Being deprived of comforts that have been normalised by general society is healthy. It reminds us that that is exactly what they are, luxuries, and they should be enjoyed as such. Cold showers turn the occasional warm shower into a well-deserved treat! 

How have cold showers helped you?

Are there any other benefits that we have missed? Let us know in the comments section below.

[1] “Waterlog” Roger Deakin

[2] “Known Benefits of Cold Showers”, Wim Hof Method