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Cold Shower Benefits and Its Potential Harm to Heart Health

Cold Shower Benefits and Its Potential Harm to Heart Health

For many, nothing feels better than a cold shower after spending a day out in the sun or experiencing the scorching summer heat. Interestingly, some people say cold showers can do more than just give us a refreshing feeling. They believe cold showers can also boost our immune system, help us lose weight, and even ease depression. But do we have science to prove these cold shower benefits? Find out below.

Science-Backed Cold Shower Benefits

If you’re fond of cold showers, hear this: there’s science behind some of their most well-known benefits.

Cold Showers May Help Boost Our Immunity

The first promising benefit we’ll discuss is the possibility that cold showers boost our immune system.

In a 3-month study with more than 3,000 participants, the researchers asked the treatment group to have hot-to-cold showers for 30 consecutive days. 79% of the participants in the intervention group completed the protocol.

Results showed that cold showers led to a reduction in self-reported sickness absences. However, the intervention didn’t shorten illness days¹.

They Ease Pain

When we experience inflammation, experts recommend the application of cold compress because they ease swelling and even help reduce pain.

Hence, it’s not surprising that one of the cold shower benefits is pain relief. In fact, one study pointed out that cold showers offer stress-induced analgesia².

Cold Showers May Improve Depression

One of the purported cold shower benefits is its ability to alleviate depression. But is it true?

A study mentioned that cold showers have antidepressive effects potentially due to the cold receptors in the skin that send electrical impulses to the brain².

Another paper explained that cold showers may activate the sympathetic nervous system and increase the levels of norepinephrine as²snd endorphins. Note that low norepinephrine and endorphin levels are associated with depression³.

They Improve Circulation

Each splash of cold water on the skin may feel unforgiving, as evidenced by your goosebumps, but did you know that cold showers can increase circulation?

During cold showers, the sudden frigid sensation puts your body in survival mode: to maintain normal core temperature and protect the vital organs, it increases blood flow⁴.

Cold Showers Boost Metabolism

Finally, is it true that cold shower benefits include weight loss?

According to experts, one of the body’s responses to cold water is increased metabolism. As the body “fights” to keep itself warm, it uses extra calories.

The Danger of Cold Shower and Important Reminders

At a glance, it’s tempting to have cold showers from now on, seeing that they have many potential benefits.

However, doctors remind us that for people with heart problems, cold shower routines may pose some dangers. They explained that cold showers put extra stress on the heart and may even lead to an irregular heartbeat.

Also, please keep in mind that cold showers cannot be a substitute for prescribed treatment. If you’re experiencing pain or any form of mental health issue (especially depression), you must consult a doctor for proper treatment.

Finally, don’t forget that there are other, more effective ways to increase circulation, boost the immune system, and lose weight. You must never rely on cold showers to achieve these benefits. Instead, consider regular exercise, a healthy and balanced diet, adequate sleep, and effective stress management.

Interested in the cold shower routine? If so, please remember that you don’t need to use cold water for the entire duration of the shower. Some experts recommend starting with lukewarm water and then switching to cold water for a few seconds to minutes.

Key Takeaways

Some of the well-known cold shower benefits are indeed science-backed. However, experts believe that these benefits do not outweigh the stress you’re putting on yourself. If you have health goals or concerns, the best thing to do is get in touch with your doctor.

Learn more about Heart Health here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


1. The Effect of Cold Showering on Health and Work: A Randomized Controlled Trial, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5025014/, Accessed October 21, 2021

2. Scientific Evidence-Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4049052/, Accessed October 21, 2021

3. Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S030698770700566X, Accessed October 21, 2021

4. Are Cold Showers Good for You?, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/are-cold-showers-good-for-you/, Accessed October 21, 2021

5. What is the biochemical and physiological rationale for using cold-water immersion in sports recovery? A systematic review, https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/44/3/179, Accessed October 21, 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Oct 21
Fact Checked by Bianchi Mendoza, R.N.