The “James Bond Shower,” or often referred to as a “Scottish Shower,” turning the temperature down to freezing cold at the end for even 30 seconds can provide surprising benefits for our body and skin.
Most of us have been caught in that moment of being the last one to shower. Maybe you’ve had someone walk into the bathroom, and flush the toilet mid-shower, leaving you covered in bone-chilling cold water. In these moments, instead of indulging in a hot luxurious shower, especially during the bitter cold winter months, we find ourselves shivering with discomfort and anger, but this may actually be advantageous to our health.
Improves Immunity and Circulation
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, ,a natural health expert, as cold water hits the body, it’s ability to get blood circulating leads the arteries to more efficiently pump blood, therefore boosting our overall heart health. Cold water can improve circulation by encouraging blood to surround our organs, which can then help combat some problems of the skin and heart. It can also improve our immune system, lower blood pressure and clear blocked arteries.
After being pushed by Dr. Thomas Norval Hepburn, an urologist and pioneer in social hygiene, Katherine Hepburn, a Hollywood actress, was a fan of cold showers. The New York Times reported about that. Katherine would take ice-cold baths or showers during childhood and for the rest of her life — she would advise others to do so as well. The actress swore by cold showers, and had a high energy level to support her claims.
The deep breathing in response to our body’s shock helps us keep warm, as its increases our overall oxygen intake when you take a cold shower in the morning. Feeling cold water pour down over our body seems more horrifying than soothing. Thus, our heart rate will also increase, releasing a rush of blood through our entire body. This gives us a natural dose of energy for the day.
3. Eases Stress
A 1994 study found a drastic decrease in uric acid levels during and following exposure to a cold stimulus. The participants, who were 10 healthy people who swam regularly in ice-cold water during the winter, adapted to repeated oxidative stress. There was also an increase in glutathione, an antioxidant that keeps all other antioxidants performing at their optimal levels.
Jumping into the shower without letting it heat up, or going into the ocean without slowly acclimating to it, can help promote hardening, increasing tolerance to stress, and even disease.
A 2008 study found that cold hydrotherapy has an analgesic effect, and does not appear to have noticeable side effects or cause dependence. This treatment included one or two cold showers of 38 degrees Fahrenheit, two to three minutes long. Followed a five-minute gradual adaptation to make the procedure less shocking.
Cold showers have been shown to relieve depression symptoms due to the intense impact of cold receptors in the skin, which send an over whelming amount of electrical impulses from the peripheral nerve endings to the brain. Thus, it produces an antidepressive effect and boosts moods.
Speeds Up Muscle Soreness and Recovery
Some studies involved colder temperatures. A 2009 study analyzing 17 trials involved over 360 people who either rested or immersed themselves in cold water after resistance training, cycling, or running. It found that 24-minute cold water baths were effective in relieving sore muscles one to four days after exercises with a water temperature of 50 – 59 degrees Fahrenheit, or 10 – 15 degrees Celsius.
We have all seen athletes taking ice baths after training to reduce muscle soreness, but a quick cold shower after breaking a sweat at the gym can be just as effective, especially in relieving delayed-onset muscle soreness.
Refines Hair and Skin
When it comes to hair care, cold showers can make hair appear shinier, stronger, and healthier by flattening hair follicles, and increasing their ability to grip the scalp.
Jessica Krant, board-certified dermatologist, told The Huffington Post that ice-cold or lukewarm water can help our skin and prevent it from being stripped of its healthy natural oils too quickly. Remember, cold water only temporarily tightens skin as it constricts blood flow, but it does not shrink pores.
Hot water has the tendency to dry out our skin, so it’s best to use cold water to tighten your cuticles and pores, which will prevent them from getting clogged. When it comes to hair and skin, one of the most natural ways to maintain your appearance is with cold showers. Cold water can “seal” the pores in the skin and scalp too, preventing dirt from getting in.
Stimulates Weight Loss
The human body contains two types of fat tissue, white fat and brown fat. According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, a Harvard Medical School affiliate, brown fat is the good fat, which generates heat to keep our bodies warm, and is activated when exposed to extreme cold. Thus, cold showers can promote brown fat activity. White fat is accumulated when we consume more calories than our body needs to function, and we don’t burn these calories for energy. These body fat piles up at our waist, lower back, neck, and thighs, and are the one we all struggle to eliminate. Cold showers can aid weight loss in an unexpected way.
A study in 2009 found that exposure to extreme cold temperatures activated brown fat in 24 participants by a 15-fold increase, meaning someone could lose up to nine pounds in a year if they kept this practice up.