Nowadays, more and more people are talking about the benefits of cold showers. They may sound like your worst nightmare (I’m definitely more of a hot bath person myself), but as it turns out, research shows that blasting yourself with some cold water during your shower could help you fight off sickness, bad moods, and even excess body fat!
One study of 3,018 people between the ages of 18 showed that a hot-to-cold shower could help boost immunity. In the study, one group took warm showers as they normally would, while other groups took warm showers with bursts of cold water for either 30, 60, or 90 seconds. They did this every day for 30 days and results indicated that the groups taking the cold showers were as much as 29 percent less likely to call out sick from work or school, and reported less illness overall. The researchers also pointed out that there wasn’t a noticeable difference among those who took the longer cold showers, either. This suggests that taking a cold shower as little as 30 seconds has health-boosting properties!
Many people who are proponents of taking cold showers have anecdotally reported its mood-boosting benefits, and scientists are starting to understand why this might be. One article published in the journal Medical Hypothesis suggests that cold temperatures may help regulate our sympathetic nervous system which governs our “fight or flight response.” The researchers say that a cold shower may trigger the release of mood-altering neurotransmitters in the brain — namely norepinephrine and endorphins — and may therefore decrease symptoms of depression.
If that weren’t enough to convince you to suffer a few shivers, it’s also been said that cold showers could help you shed body fat. Researchers who conducted a study published in Diabetes Journal suggest that cold temperature may help activate the mitochondria in brown fat, the type of fat that’s particularly hard to get rid of and tends to accumulate around the abdomen. The mitochondria is the part of the cell that converts the fat into energy, so in other words, exposing yourself to cold temperatures may turn on fat burn!
So if you’re looking to give yourself an immunity boost, take better care of your mental state, or even lose some unwanted weight, it may be time to brave the cold. And what better time to do it than during the summer heat? You can take a warm shower as usual, and then end your shower with a burst of cold water for at least 30 seconds to experience benefits. Doing it at the end will help effects last longer. If you have a serious heart condition, avoid cold showers as they do raise the heart rate and influence your body temperature. Otherwise, enjoy the cool off this summer and all its health-boosting effects!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.