Boosts Energy & Immune System, Alleviate Depression, and Promote Muscle Recovery
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We?re all looking for life hacks to help us conquer the day and get one-step ahead. Contrast showers can be your next secret weapon?
DISCLAIMER: I am not a healthcare professional! Results may vary. You should consult your doctor before trying contrast showers. Pregnant women should avoid contrast showers.
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It?s simple to get started. You can do it in your shower at home. Follow these steps:
- Start with Warm/Hot water for 3?5 minutes
- Turn to Cool/Cold water for 1 minute
- Repeat Hot to Cold Cycle 3?5 times
- End on Cold Water
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Contrast showers or contrast water therapy (CWT) can be done daily. For the most effective results, there should be a large difference between the hot and cold temperatures. Also, try to shower in hot water at least twice as long as the cold with a 3:1 ratio. For example, 3 minutes in hot water, 1 minute in cold.
For beginners, I suggest starting slow and building your way up, maybe 3 minutes in hot water, 20?30 seconds in cold water and repeat. Ease into the cold and hot temperatures, especially the cold, start with cool water then progress to the coldest setting on your shower.
1. Energy Booster
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Some swear that contrast showers give them a caffeine-like energy boost similar to a morning cup of coffee. This could be attributed to the improvement of blood circulation that occurs during exposure to alternating hot and cold water.
When we expose ourselves to cold temperatures, the arteries constrict and tighten. This tightening of the blood vessels, also known as vasoconstriction, causes blood to flow at a higher pressure and reducing blood flow. When exposed to cold, the blood will flow toward vital internal organs to keep them warm.
When exposed to heat, our blood vessels widen and dilate. This increases blood flow and our blood will naturally flow toward body tissues in response to their need for more oxygen. This process is known as vasodilation and is the opposite effect of vasoconstriction.
By combining the effects of vasoconstriction and vasodilation through cold and hot water exposure, our overall blood circulation is improved. This improvement in blood circulation through contrast showering could be the key component that causes a boost in energy.
In addition to heightening energy levels, an experiment in Prague studying cold water immersion found that it strengthened the immune system by increasing the number of monocyte and lymphocyte white blood cells.
2. Depression Killer
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Ancient samurai warriors used to dump buckets of cold river water over their heads every morning in a Shinto practice called Misogi. They believed that it cleansed the spirit and helped start a fresh new day.
The improvement in blood circulation and increase in white blood cells alone could be attributing factors that help alleviate depressive symptoms. However, the Department of Radiation Oncology at Virginia Commonwealth University also found that cold water stimulates the brain?s ?blue spot.? This blue spot is known to be the main source of noradrenaline, a neurotransmitter and stress hormone chemical implicated in anxiety and mood disorders that is also used in some anti-depression medications.
The mere exposure to cold water is a mental test of willpower. It?s uncomfortable. It?s a fight. This test of will can be translated from the shower, to everyday life struggles. Even if you aren?t convinced by the medical evidence out there, at the very least you?ll get a cold smack in the face that?ll help you reevaluate.
3. Muscle Reliever
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Contrast water therapy has been known by those in the fitness community to lessen their post-workout soreness and help overall recovery. This brings us back to the effects of hot and cold water on our blood vessels. Vasoconstriction from cold water constricts the blood vessels and sends blood rushing to vital organs. While the hot water sends us into vasodilation, causing blood vessels to dilate and increase blood flow to tissues. This combination flushes our body of toxins and increased blood flow to the tissues naturally would help rebuild broken down muscles from workouts.
We may find other increased benefits from contrast showers, although not all have been scientifically proven, many swear by their results:
- promotes weight loss and increased metabolism
- increases fertility
- improves lymphatic movement
- increases testosterone
- helps skin and hair health
- increase in hormone production
Contrast showering isn?t for everyone. If you have any health issues, or even if you happen to be young and healthy, always consult your doctor and see if contrast showering is a safe option for you. If it is?happy freezing.