Health

Benefits worth the chill

Showering with cold water may be uncomfortable at first, but there are health perks to it

Most of us will shudder at the thought of showering with cold water, but there are perks to it that may change your mind.

If you are not accustomed to bathing with cold water, you can start with 10 seconds of the time you spend in the shower.

As your body gets used to the cold water, you can bump it up to 20 and 30 seconds before hitting a full minute. Ideally, your goal is to have five minutes of cold shower time.

However, cold showers can shrink blood vessels. If you have high blood pressure or a heart condition, do not attempt this without consulting your doctor.

Here are some reasons why cold showers are good for you:

INCREASES ALERTNESS

The first reaction our body has to a cold shower will probably be shock, but - with our quickened breathing - that surprisingly builds up warmth.

Our heart rate will also increase, releasing a rush of blood through our system.

This helps to awaken our senses, hence giving us a boost of energy for the rest of the day.

HELPS WITH WEIGHT LOSS

Our bodyhas two types of fat tissues - white fat and brown fat.

White fat occurs when we consume more calories than we need, and it remains in our body when we do not burn it for energy. Brown fat is known as the "good fat" that keeps our body warm by generating heat.

A study by The New England Journal of Medicine in 2009 found that cold temperatures can activate and promote brown fat activity, which helps to burn white fat too.

CLEANSES SCALP AND SKIN

As calming as hot showers can be, they dry out our skin.

On the other hand, cold water tightens our cuticles and pores in the scalp and skin as it constricts blood flow, thus preventing them from getting clogged.

BOOSTS IMMUNE SYSTEM

Cold showers improve our blood circulation by causing arteries to pump blood more efficiently. This benefits our heart health.

It can also lower blood pressure and help our immune system in the long run.

AIDS MUSCLE RECOVERY

Just like how professional athletes take an ice bath after an intense training session to soothe muscle soreness, a study - done by the Cochrane Library - found that a cold bath is effective in relieving sore muscles as it reduces inflammation.


PERKS UP YOUR MOOD

A cold shower is known to relieve depression symptoms as it sends a good amount of electrical impulses from the peripheral nerve endings to the brain. This instantly boosts one's mood and is perfect for weekday mornings.

This article first appeared on Shape.com.sg, the only women's health and fitness magazine in Singapore

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