Two experts say yes.
If the thought of a scorching hot shower at the end of the day is the only thing getting you through a rainy commute, please know that you’re not alone. During the colder months, the allure of a piping hot shower is hard to ignore; rugging up afterwards and jumping into bed is one of life’s simplest pleasures.
However, the hot water might not be your best option. Aside from visibly drying out your limbs, hot water can disrupt the natural balance of your skin’s oils, leading to itchy skin. Cue: a cold shower.
Before you click out (thinking: has this woman genuinely lost her mind? It’s 12 degrees outside!) hear us out – it’s not all goosebumps and fripples. Here, we speak to Wim Hof, Founder of the Wim Hof Method (you might remember him from Gwenyth Paltrow’s The Goop Lab on Netflix) and Mitchell Diamond, Founder of Cryospa Clinics to discover exactly why cold water is the secret to a happy body.
What Exactly Is Cold Hydrotherapy?
For centuries, cold hydrotherapy has been used to treat various ailments or improve performance. “The use of water at various temperatures can trigger different effects on different systems in the body,” says Diamond. “We are able to do this at home through the use of cold showers or baths that generally produce water of about 14-16 degrees celsius.”
Yes, it’s uncomfortable (no one loves being freezing cold) but this method helps train our body to respond more efficiently to stress.
“Cold water is a direct way to activate all the thermoreceptors (the nerves that detect temperature changes) on the skin which signal to the deep hypothalamus (which links the nervous system to the endocrine system),” says Hof. “This helps to train the vascular system and keep you healthy.”
Think of it as a wellness shot for your cardiovascular and nervous systems.
What Are The Benefits?
Why the f*ck would you put your body through this?
“Benefits can include better skin because of stimulated blood flow to the surface, cardiovascular support, stress management, more energy, mood enhancement and hormone embetterment,” says Hof. More than that, “studies have shown that body immersion in cold water increase metabolic rate by 350 per cent,” Diamond says. The same study also revealed cold water therapy lowered systolic blood pressure by seven per cent, diastolic blood pressure by eight per cent and increased dopamine concentrations by 250 per cent. So, really, the question now is, why the f*ck haven’t we done this sooner?
How Do You Incorporate It Into Your Routine?
Have you spend the majority of this article imagining yourself shivering uncontrollably in the bathroom post-shower? We have good news – you can build up your tolerance little by little.
“It should definitely be built up to,” says Hof. “Begin with 30 seconds of finishing up cold in the shower and then build up to three minutes.”
Hof’s breathing method (à la The Goop Lab S1 E2) helps to train your body to thrive in freezing temperatures. First, sit and take 30 quick, deep breaths – inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Then, take one deep breath and exhale until you need to breathe in again then inhale again and hold for 10 seconds. This method helps prepare your body for the breathing that will occur when it is shocked by cold water. The preemptive action means you can deal with the cold for longer.
A 2014 research paper found, “that subjects who performed the Wim Hof Method over a period of 10 days could gain control of their autonomic nervous system and immune system, which had never been proven before,” says Diamond.
So, really, why haven’t we tried this sooner?
Have you ever tried cold hydrotherapy? Let us know your experience in the comments below!
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