I’m not going to stand here and bandy words with you. What I am asking you to do is not for the faint of heart. Some would call it Herculean, and they would not be wrong. However those that can withstand the challenge will reap benefits known to no man. I am speaking, ladies and gentlemen, about cold showers. I understand if the task is too great, and there is the door. But if you do stay then you are committing to learning about ways to shock your body and enjoy physical and mental rewards at the top of the mountain few others will climb. Everyone’s in? Well here we go.
First and foremost. Taking cold showers has a variety of cardiovascular functions. Your vital organs, are well, pretty vital. Imagine them as the Don Bosses of your body, they call the shots and therefore their communication is tantamount to your bodily functions. The blood that flows around your vitals can be considered the capos and underbosses of your vitals and help carry out their wishes. Cold showers force the heart to pump blood around the vital organs more efficiently and ensures better blood flow in general. This makes sure the vitals do their jobs better. This can reduce headaches, fatigue, and reduce blood pressure.
Secondly, I hate to be the one to tell you guys this, but as a species we have only gotten less fit as time has gone on. Especially in the last century. It’s true, no matter how fit we are we are coddled by the modern luxury of technology. Whether it be air conditioning in the summer, heat in the winter, or even using cars to get around instead of hoofing it everywhere, it’s clear that if we ran into our caveman ancestor in a dark alley we wouldn’t be the ones walking out. Recent studies have found that exposure to extreme temperatures was a crucial part of our evolutionary fitness.
Quick question: who here would not mind burning some fat? Hands up! And who wants to go from here and so some cardio? Hands down. Of course, cardio is the worst. A study at the University of Colorado found that continuous exposure to cold temperature helped speed up one’s metabolism and helped convert it from burning carbohydrates to burning fats. A feat that was equivalent to 7 hours of additional cadio a week.
Lastly, who would say they felt a bit hazy or not present in the last week or so? It’s a common phenomena, not being in the moment. And here is where cold showers can help. We are all animals, highly-evolved instagramming animals, but animals nonetheless. Abraham Maslow introduced his hierarchy of needs in 1943 and at its base it says that humans have things that they must accomplish first before they will permit themselves to consider other things. Physiological things like food, safety, and shelter at the bottom and progressing to things like self-actualization at the top. You’ll notice things are strictly physical at the bottom but rather heady and philosophical at the top.
Thankfully, our needs for safety and security and almost always met and that permits us the luxury of thinking and capturing what makes us happy. Unfortunately we can get lost in the upper levels which can cause disassociation and anxiety. Cold showers provide a shock in physical stimulus and cuts through the heady fog in the upper levels. When this happens your animal brains go “woah! What the hell was that? Forget that promotion we’ll worry about that later we have to address this thing that’s happening right now.” This returns us to the moment and allows us to be present.
A study in 2007 found that those frequently exposed to cold water boosts neurotransmitters that increase dopamine and fight depression. Don’t take my word for it, Tony Robbins himself begins every day by immersing himself in 57 degree water. Insane right? Baby steps.
There you have it. A small adjustment to your morning routine can leave you healthier, fitter, and happier. A minute of physical discomfort seems a puny concession for the benefits that can be reaped from a simple tweak in your morning. Is it hard, sure. But in the words of one of the greatest sages of our time, my mom, nothing worth having is easy.