The Elixir of Life
Cold Water Therapy - The Elixir Of Life
When was the last time you willingly took a cold shower? Most likely never intentionally but did you know by turning that dial in the dreaded direction can have a lasting, positive effect on your health?
Scientific studies have shown that having a cold shower each day can yield both physiological and psychological health benefits. With documented effects ranging from an increase in alertness to an improvement in symptoms of depression, we thought we should dig deeper into the science and try it for ourselves.
Firstly, let's dig into what it is…. In layman’s terms, the science surrounds something called cold water hydrotherapy. This is simply where you immerse your whole body into water below the temperature of 15 degrees Celsius (it sounds much warmer in Fahrenheit!) for a period of time. Over time, the body adapts to this acute change in temperature and changes occur within the body and brain that have been shown to improve health and wellbeing. Two things we are very keen on!
There has been many listed benefits of this crazy sounding experience but there are a few main ones that could in fact improve your daily life, these are:
Promotes Muscle Recovery - This is the most commonly known one as we often hear of athletes using ice baths and such like after training or competition to recover faster.
Reduce Stress - Stress is present in daily life and can have a negative impact on you mind and body. Cold water therapy helps to decrease the secretion of cortisol and increase the levels of endorphins. Repeated exposure to cold water therapy builds resistance to oxidative stress and overtime help modulate cortisol production.
Boosts Immune System - Through the exposure to cold water, blood circulation is increased which in turn stimulates immune factors. The cold water also promotes the healing of wounds and helps prevent infection.
Improve Depression - Cold water therapy has been shown to promote the release of depression resistant chemicals dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline. In studies, cold water exposure of 3-5 minutes, 2-3 times a week, was shown to have positive effects. This shows that in a relatively short time frame, you can have a significant, positive impact on mental health.
Help You Sleep - As well as cold showers waking you up in the morning, studies have shown they are also effective in helping you sleep. Try having a few cold showers before bed in the coming weeks and see the difference for yourself.
Now as you may have already found out, it is a pretty challenging task to stand in cold water for any longer than a few seconds. Your breathing pace increases and your heart rate rises pretty rapidly before you jump out and check the hot water tank. So we advocate a subtle introduction during your morning shower and increasing the time you spend in cold water over a period of weeks until you are comfortable for a few minutes at a time.
Start your journey with cold water therapy by turning the dial to full cold for just 15 seconds at the end of your morning shower, before getting out and drying off. It may be a shock to the system to start with but focus on your breathe and slowing your breathing down. You can cheat this by extending the exhale of each breath, promoting the rest and digest side of your nervous system. You will feel more relaxed and overtime the change in temperature will have less impact.
After two weeks, sooner if you are comfortable, increase the time spent under cold water by a further 15 seconds. Continue doing this every 1-2 weeks until you are immersed in cold water for between 3-5 minutes. This is where studies have shown to have lasting benefits. The key is perseverance and consistency but trust me, it gets easier over time!
At Adeki, we practice what we preach. The team take cold showers regularly, with Kieran and Ade waking their houses up each morning. Leon on the other hand, as an Olympian, takes things one step further by jumping in the sea most mornings for his icy plunge, settling for a shower when the sea is to choppy or he is strapped for time.