Nobody likes feeling cold, but research is showing that that getting a little chilly has its benefits. Cold showers actually increase energy levels and alertness, eases stress, promotes muscle recovery by improving circulation, and promotes the formation of brown fat, which keeps the body warm (1).
Cold water therapy can also relieve edema, loss of appetite, and constipation (2).
Even better, taking a cold shower boost immune response. In fact, one study found that taking cold showers daily for 30 days reduced self-reported sickness absence by 29% but did not affect the number of illness days taken by participants (3).
Cold water therapy is nothing new: Finnish families traditionally jump into a cold lake or bath after a sauna session, Russians take a dip in freezing cold water in the winter, and Romans ended their bathing ritual with a cold bath to increase vitality.
Short periods of cold-induce stress works by increasing the number of T-lymphocytes and NK immune cells and boosting their activity. In fact, one study found that exercising in cold weather enhanced leukocyte, granulocyte, and monocyte response (4).
If you’re still not convinced, consider this: Professor Vijay Kakkar, founder of the Thrombosis Research Institute in London, suggests cold water works by increasing your body’s metabolic rate and boosting blood circulation to warm up the body. This metabolic boost, in turn, increases the amount of white blood cell circulating throughout your body (5).
A German study even found that taking a two-minute cold shower every day can reduce the incidence of cold and fever more than taking hot showers.
To make the most of this simple health hack, progressively lower the temperature of the water from the start to the end of your shower and finish off with two minutes of freezing cold water. You can also soak your feet in ice-cold water for 10-15 seconds after getting home from work to strengthen your immune system as your day winds down.