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5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

You probably see cold showers as dreadful things that you’ve never put yourself through of your own free will; rather, they’re forced on you by circumstances beyond your control. The jerks in your dorm or apartment used up all the hot water or some inconsiderate person may have flushed the toilet before you were finished bathing. Ticked off and uncomfortable, you become irate at these people for making you have to endure this terrible thing… but what if I told you that you should thank them instead? If a person makes your shower go from hot to cold, they are doing a solid favor for your health and waistline. I invite you to consider five surprising benefits of cold showers!

There is nothing special about hot showers

Before we get into the actual benefits of cold showers, let’s establish the simple fact that hot showers are a luxury and not a necessity. Throughout most of human history, people had to bathe in whatever water was available to them. If you’ve ever swum in a lake, you can probably remember that said water often happened to be cold. The Greeks invented heating systems for public baths in the 1st century BC, but interestingly enough, many Greeks chose to continue bathing in cold water due to the health benefits.

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1. Cold showers burn fat

There are two kinds of fat in your body: white fat and brown fat. White fat is the bad guy (think the Joker) and brown fat is the good guy (think Batman). White fat is the body fat we all know and struggle to get rid of. When we consume more calories than our body needs to function and we don’t burn those calories for energy, they are stored as white fat, which tends to accumulate at your waist, lower back, neck, and thighs. Brown fat is the good guy you might have never even heard of, and its function is to generate heat to keep your body warm. Here’s the good news: when brown fat is activated due to extreme cold, it burns calories to keep you warm, which could provide a helpful assist in your weight loss plan. How much of an assist? Scandinavian researchers found that exposure to cold temperatures increased the metabolic rate of brown fat by fifteen fold, which could help a person drop nine pounds in a year if sustained.

2. Cold showers boost recovery after exercise

Athletes often take ice baths after vigorous training do reduce soreness. You don’t have to take it that far, but you can obtain a similar benefit with a quick cold shower after your training sessions. Maybe dropping a pencil or walking upstairs won’t be quite so agonizing with a little dose of cold after all of that running.

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3. Cold showers increase mood and alertness

Who doesn’t feel a bit groggy when they take that first step out of bed? This is something everyone struggles with, but if you’d like to put some pep in your step first thing in the a.m., take a cold shower before you go to work. When cold water pours over your body, your breathing deepens in response to the shock of the cold (this is your body trying to keep you warm by increasing overall oxygen intake). Your heart rate will also increase, resulting in a rush of blood through your body that will help you get energized for the day.

4. Cold showers strengthen immunity and circulation

Remember how I mentioned that cold showers speed up your metabolic rate, which helps you lose fat? The increase of this rate activates your immune system, which releases virus-fighting white blood cells that will help you get sick less frequently. Cold showers also increase your overall blood circulation, which can help you avoid hypertension and the hardening of arteries.

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5. Cold showers give you attractive hair and skin

If you’d like to reduce the appearance of acne, cold showers could do the job. Hot water dries out your skin, while cold water tightens your cuticles and pores, preventing them from getting clogged. You can also use cold showers for shinier, more attractive hair that your partner can’t resist playing with. Cold water will close your cuticle, making it less likely dirt can accumulate in your scalp. For further reading that will help you improve your skin appearance, check out these four skin care hacks for people who think they’ve tried everything.

Put it in Practice

If you have read any of the James Bond books, you surely have noticed his unique take on showers. Bond, tough guy extraordinaire, started with hot water, but turned the temperature down to freezing cold for the very end of his bathing routine. This character quirk is theorized to be a nod to Bond’s Scottish ancestry, since a “hot-to-cold” shower is often referred to as a “Scottish Shower.”

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If you’d like to take advantage of the surprising benefits of cold showers, I’d suggest starting off by emulating Bond’s bathing routine. You could also take an alternating shower by simply switching your water temperature from hot to cold every 10-20 seconds. When you’re feeling brave and have the mental toughness you need to survive the shivering, try a full blast cold shower on for size. Challenge accepted? Come back here and tell me how it goes in the comments.

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Daniel Wallen

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

From Atkins to Paleo to eating gluten-free despite not being one of the rare few people afflicted with celiac disease, fad diets are everywhere. It drives me crazy because I believe these diets do more harm than good. Your body is made up of a variety of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, and losing weight healthily isn’t possible when you fill your body with unnecessary synthetic plastics, sugars, and powders. There’s no easy button in life.

What you need to do is exercise, which isn’t very appealing to many people. Workouts take work, so there’s already a stigma involved in going to the gym. Starting a healthy workout regimen becomes easier when you make it fun. If you want to live long and prosper, get off the couch and try these methods to turn your workout into a playout.

1. Take the scenic route.

Walking is an easy way to transition to a healthy lifestyle, and it’s free. Not only do you burn calories (check out this calculator for how many calories you burn based on your weight), but you see the world in a different way. Hiking in nature is great if you have access to it, but don’t let living in an urban area deter you from walking.

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Whenever I’m creatively stuck I get my head straight by walking a couple of miles. It’s also how I discover new paths, meet new people, and stumble upon hole-in-the-wall spots I never would have found otherwise. You could drive past the same place every day and never appreciate the beauty, nor even notice it’s there.

2. Distract yourself.

No matter what exercise routine you choose, use the time to meditate. You may wonder how marathon runners are able to put so many miles on their bodies. It’s because the pain from running that you avoid is something they’ve learned to harness to enter a transcendental state. If you’re aware of the benefits of meditation and exercise but don’t have time to do both, you can combine them, killing two birds with one healthy stone.

3. Listen to music or podcasts.

There are few experiences in life more pleasurable than turning up the music and drowning out the world around you. With so many podcasts and music apps available on your smartphone, you can easily find entertainment options perfectly suited to your personal tastes. Never worry what people may think of you when working out;instead, crank up the volume and get lost in your own world. You’ll be in shape before you know it.

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4. Bring a friend.

Some people can’t go anywhere alone. While I highly recommend dining out and seeing a movie in a theater alone, having company while exercising is very helpful. It allows you to pace yourself with someone else, and gives you a coach to motivate and push harder than you may have on your own.

Many exercises are safer when done with a friend, and some sports can only be played with another person. Involving others in your goals can mean the difference between success and failure. Just remember to continue exercising if the other person flakes, or they’ll be in control of your health.

5. Accessorize.

There are accessories that can make exercise easier, and sometimes buying a new toy can add some much-needed fun to your routine. With apps like RunKeeper and Nike+, your smartphone is capable of tracking your vitals and progress. Wrist weights can add a new dimension to your workout, and, if you exercise at night, a headlamp can help you see what’s in front of you so you don’t trip.

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For urban runners and power-walkers, one of the biggest obstacles is other people. It’s difficult to get in your meditative zone and enjoy your music when you constantly have to dodge people. To resolve this vexing issue, Runbell, a startup in Tokyo, has developed the runner’s version of the bicycle bell. With this lightweight brass bell warning people you’re approaching from behind, you’re free to maintain your transcendental state while continuing your workout. Head to their Kickstarter campaign to pledge your support.

6. Compete.

A little healthy competition can motivate you to push yourself further in your workout regimen. There are apps like Zombies, Run! which turns your run into a video game, and MyFitnessPal which allows you to connect with others in the exercise community. Whether you’re directly competing with a friend, an online community, or against your previous self, setting goals is the key to reaching them. Running with no destination can feel like an impossible task, and it’s easy to get distracted.

7. Relax.

The best part about exercising is how much you enjoy the downtime. If you think laying on your couch all day is enjoyable, it has nothing on that hour you spend as a couch potato after a rigorous workout. Jay-Z said it best, “in order to experience joy, you need pain.” The harder you push yourself while exercising, the better you’ll feel when you’re relaxing.

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With that said, don’t relax too much, or it loses the effect. It’s okay to indulge every so often. Treat yourself to some junk food you’re craving, imbibe a drink here and there, and spend a day vegging out on your couch. Staying healthy doesn’t have to be torture. Just turn down when you can and dedicate some time to better the health of your body. You only get one.

Featured photo credit: tpsdave via pixabay.com

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