A Guest Post by Daniel Wallen
The Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers
You probably see cold showers as an inconvenience and a struggle. The jerks in your dorm or apartment used up all the hot water. Someone flushed the damn toilet. Ticked off and uncomfortable, you become irate at these people… but what if I told you that you should thank them instead? If someone caused your shower water to turn cold, they have done a solid favor for your health and waist-line.
WTF Are You Talking About, Mate?!
A cold shower can help you torch fat, boost metabolism, raise testosterone, improve mood and alertness, reduce muscle soreness, and increase immunity. Also, just because warm showers are conventional or what you’re used to, doesn’t mean there is anything special about them.
If you have read any of the James Bond books, you surely have noticed his unique take on showers. Bond, bad-ass extraordinaire, started with hot water—but turned it down to freezing cold for the ending minutes of his bathing routine. This character quirk is theorized to be a nod to Bond’s Scottish ancestry, since a “hot-to-cold” shower is often referred to as a “Scottish Shower.”
Because hot showers are a luxury—not a necessity
You hate the cold. It makes you uncomfortable. Whine, hiss, complain, etc.
Let’s clarify something before you bitch too much. While hot showers are the norm today, they used to be a luxury. People bathed in whatever water was available—water that often happened to be cold—until the Greeks developed heating systems for public baths.
Interesting note—many Greeks chose to continue cold bathing because of the health benefits.
Because cold destroys fat
There are two kinds of fat:
• White Fat – The Bad Guy – Think The Joker
• Brown Fat – The Good Guy – Think Batman
Without Batman on your side, the Joker—notorious villain he is—will do everything in his power to destroy your fat loss efforts.
White fat is the body fat we all know, hate, and struggle with. It grows when we take in more calories (often in the form of carbs) than our body needs to function. If your body doesn’t burn these calories/carbs for energy through physical activity, they are stored as white fat, and tend to accumulate at your waist, lower back, neck, and (for men, worst of all) man-boobs.
Brown fat is the good guy you might not even be aware of. His function is to generate heat and keep your body warm.
BUT HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS: When your brown fat activates due to extreme cold, it burns calories for heat.
In other words —> If you take a cold shower, Batman will punch the Joker in the face repeatedly until his death-grip on your weight-loss efforts ceases.
An NPR study found that in men, “exposure to chilly temperatures increased the metabolic rate of brown fat 15-fold. Sustaining this rate alone could help a person shed 9 pounds a year.”
Because cold showers have tons of other health benefits
Here is a bullet-list for you:
• Enhanced immunity against infections/sickness
• Mood booster
• Decreased muscle soreness or chronic pain
• Improved circulation
• Healthier skin and hair
• Deepen your breathing
• Increased testosterone
If the benefits of cold showers are so awesome, why haven’t I heard about it?
You can thank popular medicine. Cold showers actually used to be a very popular treatment for various health problems.
Vincenz Priessnitz (say that 3 times fast), a German farmer, invented “hydrotherapy” in the 1820’s. He used cold water to cure broken bones, erectile dysfunction… really, almost any condition you can imagine.
His method spread to Europe and the United States and became a huge hit with celebrities and famous folks. Charles Darwin is one of the more well-known hydrotherapy proponents.
The first hydrothearapy facility opened in the U.S. in 1843, and over 200 more popped up by the end of the 19th century.
…and then came drugs. “Conventional” medicine that you find in a bottle became popular in the 20th century and most people decided “holistic” approaches—including hydrotherapy—were now bat-shit insane. Today, we have too much concern with the cure (found in a pill bottle) and not enough concern with preventive measures (that aren’t always conventional, but uh, conventional wisdom sucks so IGNORE IT).
Your first cold shower will be one of the most uncomfortable events of your life.
Let’s not candy-coat it. Because of this shock, I suggest easing into them. An easy way to do this is to take an alternating hot and cold shower. How do you do that? Simple — switch back and forth from hot to cold water every 10 seconds.
Dealing with the cold for 10 seconds at a time is a lot more bearable than taking a full blast cold shower for 5-10 minutes—especially if you’re new to it. I would suggest increasing the time by 5-10 seconds every day or two to build tolerance to the cold.
You WILL get used to this, and likely learn to LOVE it.
I shit you not; while cold showers traumatized me at first, I couldn’t live without them today. They decrease my muscle soreness after a work-out. They are more effective at waking me up in the morning than a full pot of coffee. They make me feel like a bad-ass. They multiplied my weight-loss results.
2 Alternative Approaches if a Full Cold Shower Is Too Much (Wuss)
• Use an ice pack during your chill time.
Find 15-30 minutes in a day where you can chill and surf on your laptop, watch TV, or read a book. During your chill time, sit or lie comfortably and place an ice pack at your lower neck/upper back.
• Drink a glass of ice cold water immediately upon waking
Have a 16 oz. glass of ice water with your morning coffee. This will activate your brown fat cells in a small degree. Don’t expect much results from this, but if you make it a daily habit, the benefits could add up over a long period of time. Most people are hydrated anyway, so do it.
About the Writer
Daniel Wallen is a former fat-kid turned personal trainer and fitness blogger. Daniel began his war with fat at 230 lbs with a 40-inch waist / 25% body-fat. Today, he is 180 lbs with a 30-inch waist / 12% body-fat. Daniel began a blog detailing his own transformation, which has transformed into an information-rich resource for anyone hoping to lose weight and create a healthier, happier life.
He covers topics of a wide variety, including: healthy eating, effective training, romance and relationships, time management and productivity, all kinds of neat stuff.
To read more about Daniel and his innovative approach to weight-loss, please visit www.thewallenway.com