Why cold plunges are worth the shivers
Cold plunges and showers may sound grueling but the temperature shock to your system creates a plethora of favorable reactions for the body. Why is subjecting yourself to tortuous conditions in the first place considered a trend? Let’s dive in.
First off, what is a cold plunge, anyway? A plunge is considered when you fully submerge your body up to your neck or beyond into water that is below sixty degrees. Whether you are plunging or cranking the knob on your shower all the way to the cool side, prepare for goosebumps!
Beyond chills, benefits may include improved circulation, immune system and even weight loss. The shock of cold water kicks our circulatory system into gear, expect an increase in blood flow to warm your organs, an innate survival mechanism we have kept through evolution. Healthy circulation is vital for our entire body, but in terms of appearances, this benefit may include improved quality of skin!
Chilly temperatures also force the metabolism to speed up as your body is fighting to keep warm while under the (good) stress of cold water. As we know, a fast metabolism burns more calories so expect some energy expenditure when trying this hack. Pro tip: you can also turn the thermostat down in your home to around sixtyfour to sixtyseven degrees, some studies claim that cooler air has the same effect and may even burn brown adipose (fat) tissue.
A study from the Netherlands showed that increasing cold exposure in the shower (hot to cold) for thirty to ninety seconds daily can have immune system benefits. Study participants showed a thirty percent decrease in sick days from work, which was believed to be due to an impact on less severe symptoms when falling ill. Research demonstrates that our internal ecosystem essentially becomes stronger as we apply stress to it, such as cold bursts of water.
Lastly, aside from the health perks that society has become increasingly obsessed with as of late, we are now chasing dopamine more than ever. Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist at Stanford University often discusses how we seek quick fixes of this neurotransmitter, which often leads to crashes and thus leaving our body in a vicious cycle of craving more. Quick fixes of dopamine could be checking your phone, eating a sweet treat, or clocking out early. Those provide temporary but immediate reliefs. However, he discusses that cold showers and plunges are methods for creating a sustained dopamine release as the body gets energized from fighting off the cold and works to heat up our core again.
Some research shows that cold showers may even help with depression and anxiety. A good thing to know, cold showers are great for the morning as they create energy. Hot showers are great for night time as they will cool your body down. A cool body temperature is optimal for sleeping. An easy way to think about it is that the temperature of the water will essentially have the opposite effect on your internal system.
Next time you’re scrubbing down, try finishing the last thirty seconds with a cool rinse and build from there!