If a hot shower is what your body craves in the morning, you’re not alone. The majority of people crank the handle all the way up in order to feel the warm water all over their body. But did you know that cold showers should also have a place in your daily routine?
That’s right — cold showers. The ones you dread to take when you’re the last person to get up in the morning. But, if you give them a fair chance, you might find that you actually like how you feel after taking one.
Regardless of how you feel about either type of shower, research shows that both hot and cold showers have health benefits you should be aware of.
What’s so great about cold showers?
Benefits of taking a cold shower include:
calming itchy skin
waking you up
reducing muscle soreness post-workout
potentially boosting weight loss
glowing hair and skin
Why do we like hot showers?
If you have trouble relaxing or falling asleep at night, you might be tempted to take a hot shower to ease the stress of the day. This is a common practice for muscle relaxation before going to sleep because hot showers activate the parasympathetic nervous system which makes us tired, says Keferstein.
Other benefits of hot showers include:
providing relief from respiratory symptoms
helping with blemishes
Hot showers provide relief from cold or respiratory symptoms
Standing in a hot shower with the steam surrounding you has long been used as a natural remedy to reduce cold and cough symptoms. The heat from the water and the steam can help to:
loosen up phlegm
clear out your nasal passages
So, which type is better?
There are obvious benefits to both hot and cold showers, so what should you do? Well, in an ideal world, Friedman says you should take a lukewarm shower — so it’s tolerable — and apply a moisturizer to damp skin after bathing.
Another approach to try is what Keferstein describes as a contrast shower, which is an age-old technique developed by Dr. Sebastian Kneipp.
Basically, you get the water as cold as possible and stand in it for one minute. When the minute is up, you then change the water to as hot as you can handle for an additional minute. Alternate between one minute each of cold and hot for three to five cycles.
He said the health benefits come from the cold water constricting the blood vessels. This means all the blood will go to the middle of the body. The hot water will open the blood vessels and all the blood comes rushing out again. This can pump the blood completely through the muscles and organs and is great for regeneration and detoxification.
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