The idea of a cold shower benefits might not sound that appealing, but research shows it could have some surprising health benefits. Cold showers boost circulation and the immune system, and can even improve your mood.
Taking a cold shower after a sauna or workout also has specific benefits for muscle recovery, pain and rheumatoid arthritis.
If the idea of stepping under the cold tap gives you the shivers, our sauna shower buckets can help you take the plunge.
Read on to find out more about the main cold shower benefits at home, after a sauna and after a workout.
Benefits of a cold shower
There’s no doubt that a blast of cold water will wake you up in the morning. But there are more perks to taking a cold shower than you might think.
- more energy
- improved circulation
- boosted immune system
- increased metabolism and healthier fats
- better-looking skin and hair
- less stress and better moods
- mental stamina
Standing under a cold shower is one of the best ways to give yourself an energy boost. The shock increases your heart rate and makes you take in more oxygen, making you feel more alert and energised.
So if you’re not a morning person it could be the perfect way to start the day. Many claim it’s better than a strong coffee - and it’s cheaper too.
Having poor circulation is linked to a range of health conditions. When your blood isn’t circulating well enough it doesn’t deliver oxygen and nutrients to your cells and organs, including your brain.
In mild cases it’ll dry out your skin and give you cold hands and feet. But it can also cause fatigue, and even lead to cardiovascular disease and blood clots.
Just a few seconds under the cold tap can improve circulation. As your body temperature plummets, your blood rushes to your vital organs to keep them warm - making your heart pump blood quicker throughout your whole body.
Boosted immune system
It might seem counterintuitive, but taking cold showers could mean you have fewer sick days too. Research has shown that exposure to cold water makes you produce more white blood cells, which can help fight off infections and germs.
One study found that people who take regular cold showers are 29% less likely to call in sick for work.
But if you’re already ill, it’s probably best to stick to the warm baths. There’s no evidence to say a cold shower will help and it could possibly make you worse.
Increased metabolism and healthier fats
Not only will shivering burn a few extra calories, but being cold can actually make your body produce more healthy fats.
There are two types of fat in our body:
- ‘bad’ white fat - stores extra calories we don’t use
- ‘good’ brown fat - burns calories to warm us up
When we’re cold, our brown fat is activated to create heat and we convert more white fat into brown fat.
Having more brown fat means you’re likely to have a healthy body weight, and will be less at risk of health conditions like type 2 diabetes.
Better-looking skin and hair
From Katharine Hepburn to Kate Moss, people have long preached the cosmetic benefits of washing your face and hair in cold water.
Beauty experts claim cold water helps tighten pores and the improved circulation gives your skin a better complexion.
It’s a lot gentler on your skin. It won’t dry it out and strip it of its natural oils as hot water can. In fact, taking regular piping hot showers is said to aggravate many skin problems.
Cold water is also said to flatten hair follicles and increases blood flow to the scalp, giving you smoother and healthier-looking hair.
Less stress and better moods
As well as the physical benefits, cold showers have been linked to many positive mental health effects.
You probably won’t feel elated when you first feel the cold water running down your back, but the shock will give you a rush of endorphins that’ll put you in a better mood for the day.
It could even help you cope better with stress and ease depression. Early research suggests that cold exposure lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which could help with anxiety. It’s also thought that as it sends small electric shocks to the brain, it could have an anti-depressive effect.
Getting used to coping with mild discomfort can have surprising knock on effects on the rest of your life.
It’s excellent training in self discipline and focus, which is one of the reasons many athletes love it. Once you’ve faced up to the cold shower, you’ll feel like you can do anything.
The first time you subject yourself to a cold shower, you probably won’t feel too brave about it. But the next time, you’ll feel more confident that the discomfort is something you’re able to cope with and overcome.
This can make us feel mentally stronger when dealing with other uncomfortable experiences.
In fact, there are numerous Ted Talks and blogs about the positive impact this has had on people's ability to be more resilient and take control over their lives.
Benefits of a cold shower after a workout
Ice baths and cold showers after exercise are common practice among runners and athletes. While the evidence is limited, many people claim it speeds up recovery time – especially after endurance or high-intensity sports.
Whether you’re an Olympic qualifier or just enjoy the occasional jog, a cold shower has some clear benefits after a workout.
- Quick cool down - being overheated puts extra stress on the body when it needs to be focusing on repairing your muscles. Cooling down quickly has been shown to help with recovery.
- Reduced inflammation - cold compression has long been used to reduce swelling. The cold acts as an anti-inflammatory. It makes your blood vessels contract, reducing inflammation and swelling.
- Less pain - as well as reducing swelling, the cold has a numbing, analgesic effect. So it’s great for painful muscles and tendons, or muscle injuries.
- Feel better quicker - one of the biggest benefits is in helping to combat the post-workout slump. People report a cold shower or bath helps them shake off fatigue quicker, ideal if you work out in the morning or the middle of the day.
Hot vs cold shower after exercise
Both hot and cold showers have been shown to alleviate muscle soreness and stiffness after exercise (DOMS), compared to doing nothing. Hot showers can also relax stiff muscles and improve blood flow.
So which is better after a workout?
Cold showers are the best option after exercising in the heat. They also help build mental stamina, help you feel less fatigued and come with a range of benefits such as reduced inflammation.
But, it’s probably best not to blast yourself with cold after every workout. While reducing inflammation is great for injuries and pain management, a little inflammation is good as it tells your body where it needs to build strength.
If you’re serious about building muscle and strength, it might be best to alternate between hot and cold showers after your workouts.
Benefits of a cold shower after a sauna
People in Finland have been taking cold showers after saunas for centuries. They believe that alternating between hot and cold brings even bigger benefits.
Twice the Cold Shower Benefits
We already know that saunas are good for you. They lower blood pressure, flush out toxins and reduce the risk of respiratory, cardiovascular and neuro-cognitive diseases.
Topping it off with a cold shower mean you get the added cold water benefits of a boosted immune system, healthier fats and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
Plus having to cope with a second sudden change in temperature means your heart rate and blood circulation will get even more of a workout.
Combining hot and cold therapy
Some people find alternating hot and cold therapies can be especially useful for muscle injuries and pain. The heat relaxes muscles and encourages blood flow and healing, while the cold reduces inflammation and discomfort.
In particular, immersing yourself in cold water after a sauna could be particularly good for rheumatoid arthritis. While heat alone can make it worse, when followed by a form of cold therapy it can be beneficial.
Sauna shower buckets
Whether you take cold showers for the health benefits, or just to wake yourself up in the morning, using a sauna shower bucket makes it easy and enjoyable.
Stepping into a cold shower or bath takes a lot of willpower. Our sauna shower bucket releases up to 25 liters of water over your head with the gentle pull of a rope, giving you the same revitalising feeling of standing under a waterfall.
It automatically refills, so you won’t waste time filling the bucket each time.
Our sauna shower buckets can be installed in a sauna or at home in the shower. They can even be used as a garden shower - perfect for after a hot workout or run.
They come in a classic Nordic design and are made from sturdy oak that makes them more durable. You can also opt for a metal liner to make them last even longer.
Find out more about buying a sauna shower bucket and sauna shower bucket with metal insert.