The benefits of cold water exposure
Cold water therapy is not for everyone
The comfort zone is a place that most of us prefer to stay for majority of our lives without feeling any real mental challenges. To break the cycle is to exercise the mind in becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. An easy strategy to try, is exposing the body to cold water therapy as there are many benefits!
Researchers have found that taking a cold shower increases the amount of white blood cells in your body protecting against diseases and viruses.
Increase Alertness & Reduce Stress
Cold exposure awakens the body by stimulating the nervous system through taking deeper breaths and increasing heart rate. Deep breathing oxygenates the body, reduces levels of CO2, raises energy levels, boosts concentration and is a great way to prepare the mind for the day ahead. Regularly taking cold showers generates good stress on the body. Over time the body learns to adapt to the prolonged stress which results in hardening and strengthening the nervous system, enabling other stresses to be dealt with much more effectively.
Reduce Pain & Improve Recovery
Cold water therapy has been used for centuries and is highly recommended by many professional coaches and athletes today, as it is proven to reduce DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and improve recovery time. Exposure to cold water causes the blood vessels to constrict, which can help reduce inflammation causing pain. Having a cold shower, especially after any physical activity can slow the speed of nerve signals conducting impulses. This lowers the rate of signals sent to the brain and reduces the perception of pain.
Strengthen the Mind
It takes incredible willpower to endure cold temperatures for extended periods of time. Taking cold showers is not something that feels natural to us which is why the body sends signals to the brain to stop or change what feels uncomfortable. Athletes are a great testament to the power of mind over matter. Have you ever been jogging, everything’s going fine and then after 10 – 15 minutes your body begins telling you to “stop, you can’t breath properly, your legs hurt, you don’t need to do this”. Athletes that block, push through or ignore these messages from the body, have built stronger minds, greater determination, better focus and amazing will power.
The power of a strong mind and great will power is something that we can all achieve and the benefits result in an overall better quality of life.
Tips to Start
The best way to have a 3-5 minute cold shower is to start at your usual temperature, wash and clean as normal, then towards the end finish with a cold burst. Start with 30 seconds and build on that as you go. Reduce the urge to switch back to comfortable warm/hot water. Like anything, the more practice, the easier it becomes. Stick with it and the results will be surprising! Here is an interesting related blog to read “My Experience With Cold Shower Therapy”.
Written by Sarah Gordon.