Discover the health benefits of cold water shower.
Taking a cold shower: advantages and step-by-step instructions
Taking a cold shower and bathing in ice should be healthy. But why is that and how do you get used to it? We’ll explain that to you in this article and explain the health benefits and disadvantages (contradiction) of a cold water shower.
In addition, we will show you in a step-by-step guide how you can get used to this refreshing cooling off and not get enough of it in the future.
Why is cold so valuable for the body?
In order to understand on an evolutionary level why the “cold stimulus” is so important for the human body, let’s go back a few thousand years. In the past, humans were constantly confronted with the vagaries of nature and have adapted to them in the course of history.
Cold played a very important role in this. The human body reacts with increased heat production and an accelerated metabolism .
In the course of human development, these natural and positive stressors have been curbed more and more. Especially against the cold we humans have created ingenious inventions that go far beyond “making fire”.
Nowadays we can cuddle up in warm thermal jackets. We can just turn up the heating in winter and drive to work in heated vehicles.
In other words: We withdraw the cold stimulus from our body. If this important external stimulus and clock is missing, metabolic diseases threaten and the hormonal balance suffers.
The solution is to consciously stimulate the body with cold. This goes well with a regular cold shower .
And best of all : The more you adapt to this cold, the less you freeze. It is not uncommon to find a Primal State reader in a T-shirt in winter.
All experts now agree that a cold shower is healthy. And the study situation also shows a clear picture here.
Health benefits of cold water shower
1. Lose weight with cold showers
In fact, cold showers increase fat burning. Those who consciously expose themselves to the cold naturally have to produce more heat.
This heat comes directly from the fat – in fact from the brown adipose tissue – and is released by a protein called UCP. UCP grants the approval that energy sources (such as fatty acids) can be used for heat production.
2. Brown adipose tissue improves blood sugar levels
Cold stimulates the production of so-called brown adipose tissue. This tissue is not responsible for storage, but for energy and heat generation.
And no: this fatty tissue is not the hip gold. Brown adipose tissue is mainly hidden in the neck and neckline area and around the organs. You can’t really see it from the outside if it’s there.
However, if there is no cold stimulus, the body breaks down this tissue. The guiding principle of physiology applies here: What the body does not need, it breaks down. The same goes for muscles that are never used. And bones that don’t have to carry anything.
Brown adipose tissue is permeated with mitochondria (our energy power plants of the cell) and can burn up to 500kcal more per day. And that without sport.
This enormous ability to burn energy also improves blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity in the long term.
3. Improved blood circulation
Taking a cold shower is a miracle weapon against circulatory disorders. The cold causes the blood vessels to contract and expand again after the cold, wet.
The cold shower can also have a regulating effect on people with blood pressure problems.
Cold is a wonderful way to inhibit inflammation and, among other things, lower uric acid levels.
For people who suffer from rheumatic diseases, the cold could be a real benefit.
5. More mitochondria
You have probably heard of the small mitochondria before. Mitochondria are the power plants in our cells, they produce the energy we need for life from energy substances such as fatty acids or sugar .
The exposure to cold stimulates the production and efficiency of the mitochondria
The more mitochondria you have in your cells and the fitter they are, the more energy, including heat, they produce. And you can train yourself to do all of this through the cold.
6. Better thyroid levels
I mentioned it at the beginning. Cold is a wonderful clock for the metabolism. The reason for this is the thyroid gland . When it is cold , this releases more hormones (fT3), thereby stimulating mitochondria formation and function (PGC1-alpha) and increasing energy production.
The result: more heat and a higher basal metabolic rate.
7. More resilient in body and mind
It is remarkable how the body can adapt to external circumstances. Do you think that it is possible to go outside with a T-shirt in winter when the temperature is down to 0 and not to freeze?
We can give you a clear answer to this: Yes. And the feeling is incredibly satisfying. You feel strong, resilient and you develop incredible trust in your body and mind.
8. Pain reduction
For people who suffer from chronic pain, cold showers are a natural alternative to medication.
On the one hand, this phenomenon can be explained by the anti-inflammatory and blood flow-increasing effects of cold, and on the other hand by the fact that the synapses between the nerve cells are set to “0”.
The pain signals are inhibited by the cold. We know that from sport. Physiotherapists almost always use a cool pack for injuries.
9. Ideal complement to sport
In cold showers and ice baths, similar processes are set in motion as in endurance sports. New mitochondria are formed, blood flow is increased and health benefits.
Our recommendation: In addition to exercising, take a cold shower every day.
Why all this? What’s the point of taking a cold shower?
Freeze less, all well and good. But what you are learning here is the very hard school. You have to be pretty crazy to lie in a frozen lake.
So why should you do this to yourself? How about this :
• Reduction of cortisol stress
• Decreased blood lipid levels
• Decreased risk of diabetes
• Decreased uric acid levels
• An improved immune system
• Improved thyroid function
• Better blood flow through the formation of new blood vessels
• A better body awareness
• Trust in your own body
• Increased life expectancy
• Improved sleep quality
• Better stress tolerance
But are there any exceptions?
Cold shower disadvantages (contraindications)
A cool shower in the morning gets the circulation going and hardens the body and mind. But are there areas where the cold is a disadvantage? Below are 5 cases where we advise against it.
1. Take a cold shower if you have a cold
We now know that the cold shower has extremely beneficial properties for the metabolism and the immune system . But what about when the body has already caught a cold? Is the wet refreshment still advisable?
In the case of an already active cold, a cold shower should be avoided as it is an additional burden for the body and the immune system.
2. Take a cold shower if you have a fever
Similar to a cold, if you have a fever it is too late to strengthen your immune system with cold showers. Better to do without showers and cure the infection.
3. Adrenal fatigue
In the case of adrenal fatigue, it is important to first avoid possible stressors in order to give the body time again to regenerate . Here it is important to give him rest.
In this case, you should slowly approach the cold shower.
4. Graves disease
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease of the thyroid. It causes the person concerned to produce excessive thyroid hormones. If you have this condition yourself, you may not benefit from cold showers. On the contrary, it could even be problematic as it boosts the production of thyroid hormones.
5. Immunodeficiency and cold
Is the body’s immune function already severely impaired and therefore very susceptible to infection? In this case, the cold should be cultivated with care and caution.
Take a cold shower: How to start
Now, after all that biochemical nonsense, we’re really hot for an ice-cold bath! So undressed, out through the snow into the nearest lake, and bye!
If you do that, we will not be liable for any damage. Cold resistance is not something you just have, but something that you have to train. You have to get used to the cold gradually, otherwise the body will endure more chilblains and cold shocks than is necessary.
But don’t worry: it’s going faster than you thought!
This is followed by step-by-step instructions on how to get used to cold training, how to build more mitochondria and brown adipose tissue and how to become a thermal machine.
These instructions will end where you expect it to be: in the ice bath.
Cold shower instructions
Phase 1: Cold facial bath
For those who get chills at the thought of cold water , let’s start small.
Turn the tap on the sink to very cold and wash your face with the water for a few minutes.
Effect: The body is again easily confronted with cold through the face and hands.
Goal: If the ice-cold water is refreshing and not painful, you have achieved the goal. Now go to phase 2.
Phase 2: Adapted cold shower
Stand in the shower and shower normally, at your usual and desired temperature. After a few minutes, start turning the tap colder.
As fast as it’s okay for you. Cold training is the first moment a pain stimulus, but after a few seconds you get used to it.
Tip : take a deep breath! This bundles the focus on your body and the cold.
The cold only works for 10-20 seconds. During this time only breathing, concentrating and gritting your teeth helps! After this time you will be amazed to find that you don’t mind the cold so much anymore.
Effect: If you have reached the lowest point (cold), you will get a strangely clear head after a few seconds. That is the blood flow.
The body counteracts the effects of cold. In this state of exposure to the cold, your energy expenditure is three to four times higher! Is that a reason to hold out longer?
Objective: to stand under cold water for about a minute.
Phase 3: The cold shock shower
If you have completed step two well, we come to the next phase.
Put in the shower and turn right to the left (after 10 seconds)! Quasi a cold shock.
Here it helps to lock the shower head up and turn the tap to the left in one quick movement so that you are not tempted to put the shower head down or turn it.
Tip: take a deep breath and concentrate! After a few seconds, the body begins to heat up against it. Then the cold training is no longer uncomfortable.
Goal: stand under ice-cold water for 3 minutes.
Step 4: the cold bath
The cold shower is no longer a problem? Then let the bathtub fill up and lie down in it. We are getting closer and closer to the supreme discipline.
Tip : When the tub is full, sit in it first. Only after 2-3 minutes do you lie down with your entire body.
Goal: to be in the water for 20 minutes, but calmly leave the water before you become an icicle and slowly work your way up to 20 minutes.
Step 5: the ice bath
Now you bring the water close to freezing point. This step is relevant if the coldest possible water from the line is not colder than 8 ° C.
Let the bathtub fill up as usual and garnish the bath water next to a relaxing eucalyptus bath foam with 1-2 bags of egg cubes. Now the water has a pleasant 4 ° C and is just waiting for you!
Tip: The note about the eucalyptus bath was no joke. That makes the cold more bearable.
Goal: To stay in the water for at least 5 minutes (10 minutes would be very advanced).
Step 6: Ultimate Cold Challenge
Have you already mastered step 5? Congratulations, you belong to the hardened cold elite! Cold training also makes you more resilient, more determined and more assertive in real life.
And respect! It takes some courage and effort to pull this off. But it’s worth it ! It hardens you a lot and brings your metabolism to a new level!
The challenge: The ice bath from step 5 in the great outdoors. In addition, it should have an outside temperature of less than 5 ° C. Find a lake, stream, pond or rain barrel close to freezing and lie in it for a few minutes.
As crazy as this step sounds, it is by far the most fun. Why? Because you feel pure adrenaline in you when you step into the water .
Because you will be really proud of yourself as you sit in the middle of icicles and snow, in underwear in an ice-cold body of water and after a short period of getting used to it, do not freeze, but rather feel how your whole body becomes a single thermal block! This step is immensely addicting.
For this step, please note the tips under Step 2 for a problem-free implementation.
When you have mastered this step, please send us a photo proof and how you felt.
Extreme example: Wim Hof – The Iceman!
Wim Hof is the best known extreme example of cold training that is currently available on this planet. For years this likable Dutchman was ridiculed, laughed at and declared crazy.
Today Olympic athletes and Hollywood stars alike compete for him as a mentor. What got him such an expert role?
Wim currently holds 18 world records in terms of cold
Need a taste test?
• A half marathon 160km north of the Arctic Circle – barefoot and only wearing running shorts, of course
• A full marathon in Northern Finland, at -20 ° C, again barefoot and in shorts (seen on BBC)
• Hiking tour up to 6700 meters in altitude on Mt. Everest, in shorts and with shoes. Here he had to stop because of a foot injury (not because of lack of oxygen or cold, would be too obvious)
• 80m dive under an ice sheet in Antarctica
• The longest time a person has endured in ice – 1 hour 52 minutes
You see – it couldn’t be more extreme! The man knows what cold means. A superhuman willpower is of course also part of it, as well as a very effective breathing and meditation technique based on the Tummo principle . Wim Hof is an example of how the human spirit can conquer nature.
Homework: your first cold challenge
Today you have learned the basics and background information about cold showers and thermogenesis – heat build-up in the body. And you’ve learned why cold showers and cold training are worth trying.
Now you are asked: When do you start to take a cold shower?
Take a moment to look at the individual phases and implement one level of the protocol now. Your health and well-being will thank you.
1. How long should you take a cold shower?
To achieve the full effect, we recommend standing under the cold shower for at least 3 minutes. Of course, that doesn’t work right at the beginning. Therefore try to increase steadily until you have reached the goal.
2. What is cold shower good for?
Taking a cold shower gets your entire circulation and metabolism going. On the one hand we have the effect of vasoconstriction and enlargement and on the other hand the thyroid gland, which stimulates the metabolism.
3. How do I take a cold shower?
We answered this question in the last part of this article. Slowly approach the cold and step up a little each time. This gives your body enough time to adjust.
We hope the article on the health benefits of cold water shower.