I’ve never been a morning person and the thought of a warm shower was the only thing that got me out of bed. I ignorantly batted away suggestions of adopting a cold shower when preached about its benefits by ‘health-optimising friends’ and personalities like Wim Hof.
The more I read into it, the more I realised that a cold shower actually taps into your evolutionary self. Our ancestors inhabited every corner of the Earth despite the harshness and diversity of these environments. However today, we live in an environment optimised for our comfort and convenience – all of the biological systems that allowed us to adopt to brutal environmental conditions lay dormant. Without these systems, we are more vulnerable to stress, illness & disease.
Our bodies actually see cold water as a big threat and this activates our primal stress response (e.g. hyperventilation, increasing of heart rate), putting our body into survival mode for a short time period. These short bursts of stress re-awaken our biological systems, which maintains the natural resiliency that evolution has spent millennia cultivating. Early research has shown that just six immersions in cold water produced a physiological effect that can be seen over a year later.
I started having cold showers in the morning (even if I sometimes start with the water warm) and have seen a couple of primary benefits
- Wakes me up in the morning – always start the day a bit more alert
- Helps reduce muscle soreness (especially after an evening gym workout or football match)
My friends have also mentioned further benefits around improved weight loss and skin conditions.
It may be harder doing this if you live in colder countries than HK, but try having a cold shower for a week and see if it works for you