Hot vs Cold Showers – The Showdown

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water droplets © Michael Jastremski / Attribution-ShareAlike / 2014-02-15 09:32:02

You are probably wondering why should we have a debate about cold vs hot showers on a blog focused on sustainability, and why is this important for you?

I realize this sounds a bit strange but, once you know that 10% of the water we consume in our homes is used in the shower and that 25% of the energy we consume is used for heating the water, it is easy to see how taking shorter and colder showers can be good for the environment, and maybe, after reading the article, you will decided that it is also good for you.

You might say that the idea of a cold shower is too terrifying and not worth considering, but let’s take an objective look at the pro’s and con’s for hot and cold showers before you decide what suits you best.

Please keep in mind that our body temperature varies from 36,5 to 37,5 dg. C so you should lower, or raise the water temperature gradually, starting in the 30 dg C range, to avoid a hypothermic shock. For instance if, after spending time outside on a hot summer day, you get directly into a very cold shower you can get a hypothermic shock and, in extreme cases, can even get a hearth attack. Or if you have spent time in extreme cold temperatures, taking a very hot shower immediately after can lead to skin burns. Also if you have cholesterol atheromas on your arteries this can be mobilized and result in a heart attack. So it is very important to be cautious about extrem temperature changes.

Also please take notice that I am not a doctor, and this information is for informational purpose only, so please consult one before doing anything mentioned here in this post. That being said let us start the debate by looking at the most popular choice and it’s pro’s and con’s.

  The Hot Shower:

  1. Can relieve tension and soothe stiff muscles.
  2. It can amp up your oxytocin levels (love hormone) and ease anxiety.
  3. Acts as a natural decongestant to relieve cold symptoms, since the hot steam moisturizes nasal passages.
  4. If you have a fever a hot shower might be what you need to help break it, and bring your temperature back to normal.
  5. On the more vain side it can dry out your skin and hair, making you look older. 

Another fact that you might wish to considere before taking a warm shower is the new research in marketing centers on “embodied cognition”—the idea that without our conscious awareness, our bodily sensations help determine the decisions we make. For example, people who had briefly held a warm beverage were more likely than people who had held a cold one to think that a stranger was friendly; this was demonstrated in an experiment by Lawrence E. Williams, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and John A. Bargh, of Yale. Warm ambient temperatures also prompted people to conform so if you are going for a negotiation you might want to rethink turning down the temperature, as terrifying as it sounds.

  Some like it cold, including myself:

I have been taking cold showers for almost two years now and, although the thought of going into a cold shower in the morning still makes me shiver, it has had a lot of positive effects on me, for which I am willing to sacrifice 3 min of discomfort. I travel a lot, for example in the last 3 months I have traveled in more than 10 different countries, with temperature ranging from -20 to +15 degrees C,  so you can imagine the stress this causes to my body and my health. But in the past 2 years I got sick only once. And even then, with the help of some lemon water, garlic and a hot shower, I was cured in 2 days. Plus, since I started taking cold showers (together with changing my diet to a low carbs one), I have reduced my body fat from around 18% to around 10% , increased my muscle mass and improved my energy levels. So let’s see what could be the benefits of a cold shower?

  1. Turning your shower cold for the last five minutes can help “shock” your body awake. This rapid change in temperature relieves your body of fatigue and increases your mental alertness.
  2. It can be a treatment for depression. Some researchers recommend a “cooler” shower for two to three minutes once or twice daily.
  3. Cold water can improve immunity.
  4. Cold showers are better for our hair and skin. Where a hot shower can dry things out, cold showers can hydrate and help with split ends and dry skin.
  5. Short-term cold exposure (under 30 min ice bath) is used for muscle recovery by major sports teams.
  6. Short-term cold exposure can lead to fatty acid release (fat burn), because the body is using it to raise your temperature.
  7. Also cold exposure can increase testosterone levels, which can lead to improved performance, where it counts, faster muscle gains and to faster recovery after injuries, like cuts or scratches from the improved performance.

If you can’t take a cold shower, keeping an ice pack on the back of your head for 20-30 min produces similar effects.

Whether you choose to have a cold or a hot one, having a shower before going to sleep might help you add some months or years to your life. People from Japan, which tend to have one of the world highest life expectancy, are having an almost religious ritual: every night before going to bed they take a hot bath.

Of course there are also others who suggest that taking less showers is the way to go. Here the main focus is on reducing the chemicals and shampoos we use in order to avoid damaging our skin natural oil. Can it be that you shower to much? The video bellow could give you the answer.

The decision is always yours, so which one will you choose? Let us now in the comment box bellow.

Article written in collaboration with md. Marius Radu Nicula

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‘The Four Hour Body’ –Tim Ferriss

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