There are two types of people in the world. Those who take cold showers and everybody else.
Cold showers have become a fad in recent years. An increasing number of people are adopting the ancient art of cold hydrotherapy as a means of self-improvement. They claim that an act as simple as turning a nozzle clockwise in the morning can bring life-transforming benefits. About 18 months ago, I made the move and ditched warm water for good. Here I outline the benefits I have personally experienced that have left me with zero intention of ever taking a hot shower again.
1. Increased Energy
Energy is arguably the most important benefit of taking a cold shower. Like many of you, I am not a morning person. My energy peaks in the evening and stays elevated into the wee hours of the night. The most expedient way I have found to overcome low morning energy is to subject my body to a cold shower. Cold water acts as a shock to the whole system and puts the mind to work to restore homeostasis. The end result is an organism that is highly energized and ready to move about the day. I challenge everyone reading this to take a cold shower and fall asleep immediately afterwards — it simply can’t be done. (Give it at least 15 minutes, but you get the point.)
2. The Release of Happy Hormones
Nothing is free in nature. Our brain rewards us with happy hormones only when we have achieved something that contributes to our survival. A cold shower is a surefire way to get the endorphines and dopamine flowing early in the morning. After taking a cold shower, you will not only have greater energy but will feel good as your brain’s pleasure reward system is activated.
3. Greater Resilience
Resilience is something that does not come easy. On the surface mental strength is nothing more than a mind game. In reality, however, our brain takes past behavior and outcomes as hard evidence of how it should act in the face of new challenges. Taking cold showers is a proven way to build mental toughness. No matter how many cold showers you take, there will always be the temptation to feel instant gratification by turning the nozzle counterclockwise. With experience, you will learn to silence this voice, callous your mind, and acquire the stoic demeanor vital to navigating other life challenges.
4. An Antidote to Depression
Cold showers are an effective tool that everyone suffering from depression should have in their toolkit. While the benefits outlined above are sure to lift anyone’s state of mind, particular studies have been carried out on those suffering from depressive symptoms. Take this study, for example, in which cold showers relieved depressive systems in a group of test subjects. However, you don’t need a peer-reviewed, double-blind study to tell you something you can test on your own within a few minutes. If you are suffering from depression, why not give cold hydrotherapy a try. Commit to taking a 3-minute cold shower every day for a week. It costs almost next to nothing and may supply the boost you need to move forward with your day.
5. Improved Male Reproductive Health
Wet heat exposure is a well-known cause of low sperm count and infertility. The decision to implement a cold shower regiment is usually accompanied by the decision to abandon hot showers altogether. In this study, infertile men who gave up their hot baths, hot tubs, and Jacuzzis experienced a mean increase in total motile sperm counts of 491%. The author of the study concluded that the toxic effect of hyperthemia on male reproductive health may be reversible in some men. Whether you are in the baby-making business or not, as a man you should think long and hard about continuing a habit that has such a damaging effect on your vital reproductive organ.
6. An Increase in Testosterone
It is conventional wisdom among guys who take cold showers that they increase male testosterone levels. I have yet to come across a study that confirms (or refutes) this claim, so I will instead focus on my personal experience. After years of paying close attention and getting lab work done, I have a good general sense of where my testosterone levels are at any given moment of time. That said, I do believe that cold showers increase my testosterone levels over the course of an hour or two after exposure. I experience increased energy and feel eager to hit the weights.
Russian powerlifters, known among other things for their astronomical testosterone levels, seem to agree with me. Russian powerlifters have been known to ice their balls prior to competition. The routine is based on the fact that the optimal temperature for testosterone production is lower than the body’s overall temperature (hence why the testicles sag away from the body). Exposing the testicles to cold temperatures is believed to optimize this process and increases testosterone production. What science has definitively shown is that hot water has a negative effect on male hormonal health. As someone who has taken cold showers for 18 months, I believe the opposite is also true.
7. Save Time and Money
Hot water is rare in nature and takes technology to sustain. Even during the summer months, natural water rarely ever reaches the temperature of your average suburban shower. This is because the cool temperature at night does not allow the water to remain as hot as it would be if it remained under the midday sun 24/7. In short, by taking cold showers you will save money on your gas bill. You will likely also save on your water bill as most people who take cold showers stay under the water for only a few minutes. Cold showers will also save you valuable time in the morning and give you a head start on your day. In my experience a three-minute cold shower is sufficient for reaping all of the benefits. The length of time may vary for you, but I have found that any amount of cold exposure is better than nothing.
In this article, I laid out a case for the benefits of taking cold showers based on my experience and research but the jury is still out until you experiment for yourself. No two people are alike, and everyone’s experience will be different in meaningful ways. Let me know in the comments what your experience has been with cold showers and any questions or insights you may have gained from the discipline.