People crave warmth when they jump in the shower, especially on chilly mornings. Feeling the heat surrounds your body is a great sensation. However, others argue that cold showers are better for your health and assist in waking up. What if you were told that both have their benefits? If this is true, when should you take a hot shower and when is cool the better option? Taking a deeper look into how each affects our body will help answer this complicated question.
Cold Water Showers
If your first thought when you hear the word cold water is frigid, you are not alone. When discussing cold showers, temperatures are between 50 to 60 degrees F. This is close to the same temperature a swimming pool is kept. The benefits include:
- Shocking the system
- Soothing dry, itchy skin
- Boosting circulation
- Reduce chances of sore muscles
Many of the advantages of cool temperatures come from the shock you give to your system. This will wake you up and increase circulation by raising your heart rate. However, with this comes potential hazards. If you have heart or circulation issues, talk to your physician to make sure they are safe for you. When you increase your circulation, your muscles relax faster. This is one of the key benefits of a cold shower after running. Your muscles will require a repair time. However, when you are training for a marathon and have intense workouts, you can shorten it.
While not proven with extensive studies, physicians are seeing positive results with cooler water on people attempting to lose weight. The theory is that your body burns more calories to stay warm, which you force upon yourself by stepping into cold conditions. Fat cells are known to create heat when they are burned off. Therefore, some people experience a higher metabolism and increased fat burning by combining cool water with a healthy diet.
Finally, stylists often tell people to drop the water temperature at the end of a shower for healthier hair. The reason is sound, although more scientific tests are needed to prove it. Cold temperatures tighten the skin and seal the hair follicles. This will give your skin a healthy glow, and allows your hair to create a barrier to oils and dirt. You will also seal in the conditioners that you add to your hair during the final rinse.
As with everything, some negatives come with positives. We have already mentioned that some health conditions prohibit the ability to handle shocks to the system. However, there are times when being cold is not a good idea. The first is if your body is already at a lowered temperature. You can combat this by using warmer temperatures to elevate your body temperature before switching to cool water. The second time is if your immune system is compromised because heat kills bacteria in your body.
Hot Water Showers
There are good reasons people prefer to take time inside a hot shower, including relaxation. The heat causes our nervous system to calm, and in turn, a person will become sleepy. A few other benefits include:
- Respiratory relief
- Clear skin blemishes
- Relax muscles
Many have used steam as a natural remedy for respiratory distress for years. It loosens the phlegm in your lungs, clears nasal passages, and overall opens the airways allowing you to breathe better. You can add to the benefit by using peppermint essential oils or other menthol aromas. Take caution, however, because the best temperatures may burn the skin. This benefit is often best seen with running hot water in the shower and sit in the steam-filled room.
The other two advantages do not require extremely hot temperatures to reap the benefits. Warm temperatures open the pores of your skin, which is how bacteria are extracted for the soap to wash away. This also helps people who battle acne because the oils are not trapped in the skin cells. Finally, as mentioned above, hot water assists in relaxing the body. Tension causes your muscles to contract. Therefore, releasing tension will calm all the muscles in your body and prevent fatigue.
Unlike cooler temperatures, warm water brings more disadvantages. The main one is the fact heat is very drying. This means your skin will be more irritated, and you may suffer damage due to the dryness. People with conditions including psoriasis and eczema should avoid high-temperature showers. Finally, heat has been known to cause complications in people who have high blood pressure. Therefore, it is always best to consult with your physician if you notice symptoms worsen.
Which Temperature is Best?
Knowing the advantages and disadvantages to both types leads us back to the original question of which one is best. The answer is basically, it will depend on the condition you are trying to treat. If you need to wake up or cool down following a run, then cold water is best. You can read more information on the benefits of cool water on Air Beneath my Feet to learn how to use this as a therapy method. However, if you need assistance with breathing or relaxing your body, you will want to turn to warm water. In an ideal world, you will use both temperatures. This is especially true if using it as a therapy. You can rotate with warm and cool every five to ten minutes.
Anytime you are discussing health benefits or complications, you will want a medical professional to have a say. The studies are based on set criteria, and every person is different. What is best for one person may not be for another person. While taking a simple shower to clean yourself is one thing, you will need to know your body before you begin a therapy regimen. Have your doctor run a blood panel and take your vitals to see where you are starting. During follow-ups, they will be able to determine if you are benefiting from cool water treatment.
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