The Cold Water Challenge

Have you ever heard that taking cold showers is good for you? Are you looking to challenge yourself to think more clearly, exercise more regularly, and recover more quickly? Today, we present to you the 75 day Cold Shower Challenge!

Put yourself to the test and for the next 75 days, spend at least 3 minutes (brrrr)eaking down your comfort levels to receive some super cool benefits!

In this article, we will share eight benefits of cold showers that will make you want to put yourself up for the challenge!

1. Improve blood circulation

When you first hop into the cold water, you may find yourself physically jumping! This awakening sensation will shock your circulatory system and get all your blood pumping at a faster rate. As your body increases its blood flow, the blood cells will direct themselves towards your core to keep your vital organs warm and protected. Having freshly pumped blood flowing throughout your body is excellent for your body and overall health.

2. Reduce swelling

While the blood is focused primarily on the core of your body, it will reduce overflow in areas that can tend to swell. For example, if you experience swelling in the feet, a cold shower will allow movement of your blood to reduce pooling and other uncomfortable swelling. This is also why taking frequent walking breaks is important, and we highly recommend FitMyFoot custom insoles to make this a more pleasant experience. This will help keep your blood – and your body– moving all day long.

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3. Allows you to skip caffeine

The burst of cold water, especially in the morning, will jolt you awake and activate mood-elevating hormones and neurotransmitters such as beta-endorphins, noradrenaline and dopamine. Not only will this leave you feeling refreshed and awake, but it also can reduce depression and anxiety.

While having that warm cup of coffee in the morning may be in your current routine, some downsides to caffeine may make you want to consider other forms of energy. Caffeine can cause anxiety, restlessness, tremors, irregular heartbeat, headaches, migraines, and trouble sleeping. If these day to day symptoms do not concern you, keep in mind that caffeine is also linked to high blood pressure, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and other serious problems. While we are not suggesting you cut your coffee cold turkey, we do recommend attempting to minimize your intake. A great way to start this process could be to skip it on the weekends and try to evaluate how the cold showers affect you… you might be surprised!

4. Promotes healing & recovery

Another great benefit of taking on the Cold Shower Challenge is that it can enhance your recovery. After long strenuous hikes, walks, or workouts, it's very helpful to cool your muscles for your muscle fibers to repair themselves. Ice baths are known for constricting the blood vessels which flush out lactic acid and promote recovery. Cold water showers will do the same without the intensity of ice.

5. Makes you want to exercise

Because you heal and repair your muscles more quickly with cold water, you will also be able to get back to exercising more frequently. You may even find your fitness levels rise due to increased energy levels, more reactive muscles, and greater ability to remain present during your workout. Cold water will force you to breathe more heavily which is known to bring more oxygen to the brain and therefore contribute to a meditative like practice. The more often you practice this, the easier it will become to incorporate in other areas of your life.

6. Helps you to think more clearly

Along with more focused and heavy breathing, the shock will promote a lifted heart rate and overall alertness. Even after leaving the shower, this will continue throughout your day and generate higher productivity.

7. Calms dry and itchy skin

If you suffer from dry, itchy, and irritated skin, turn the heat down! Hot and long showers will often make these symptoms worse. When in the cold, you will likely already be moving faster which will reduce the time spent removing your skin's natural moisturization. Additionally, cold water will tighten your skin and hair follicles, leaving them strong and glowing!

8. Strengthens your immune system

Perhaps one of the most important benefits of taking cold showers is that it can improve your immune system. In fact, one study found that showering in cold water reduced workers calling out sick by 29%. Furthermore, cold shower benefits have been studied and hypothesized as reducing tumors and promoting immunity. However, spending too much time in cold water could hurt your immune system or cause your body too much stress, so limit your time to under five minutes. This will be the ideal time for improving your immune system's resilience without compromising it.

How to take the challenge

Now that you know the benefits, are you ready to take the plunge? Here's how to do it:

  • Set your water to approximately 60 degrees Fahrenheit
    • This will likely feel slightly cooler than what your comfort levels will allow
    • You can work down to this temperature over the course of your shower
  • Stand under the cold water for approximately 3-5 minutes
    • 30 seconds under the cold stream can deliver some of the benefits mentioned. However, the maximum will result from prolonged exposure of around 3 minutes.
    • If you want to take the challenge but fear 3 minutes is too long, consider starting with even 30 seconds at the end of your shower. This will increase your resilience and make you more prepared to face challenges throughout your day!

Remember, the first time you turn your shower nozzle to cold will be the most uncomfortable but keep going! You won’t regret it!

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