A few years ago while visiting the beautiful city of Montreal, I stayed in a hotel that featured not one, but three types of pools. One was a regular, salt water pool that you might find pretty much anywhere. Another was a large hot tub style pool. The third was a frigid, ice cold, polar pool.
There were actually people – adults and children alike – neck deep in that cold water pool! I tried. I could barely sink one foot into it before I felt the cramps begin to radiate through my legs.
Why would anyone dunk themselves into icy cold water for pleasure?
Well, I hate to say it, but I’m not in the majority here. First, most people seem to be able to handle the cold much better than I can. Second, science has found that there are innumerable benefits to soaking in cold water.
Cold Water Therapy
Need better circulation, like me? Apparently, immersing yourself in cold water can help with that. The cold against your skin sends your blood away from peripheral areas, like your fingers and feet, toward your deep, inner vessels. Although limiting blood flow to your extremities might not sound like a good idea, sending extra blood to deep, inner vessels actually helps to reduce inflammation. That affect ends up improving overall blood circulation. The idea is that sending the blood deep inside your body for a short time will allow it to circulate better once it returns to your extremities.
Better blood circulation allows your body to detoxify, disperse nutrients, and heal much more efficiently and completely.
There have also been reports that a few minutes under a cold spray can help reduce the symptoms of depression. The feel of the cold on skin helps your body produce and transmit mood-lifting neuro-transmitters.
But, do you really need a cold body of water to experience the benefits? Lucky for us, the answer is no. We have all we need in our own home showers. You can experience the benefits of both cold water therapy and steam therapy with a steam shower.
One word of warning: don’t jump right into the cold. The stress on your body can cause problems for those who suffer from heart problems.
Instead, begin your shower luxuriating under a spray of warm water. After a few minutes, or when you’re nice and comfortable, start to decrease the amount of hot water flowing through the shower head. Over the next 5 minutes, keep decreasing the amount of hot water until the water temperature reaches about 68°F (and no colder!). The water will feel cold on your skin, but it’s not actually in the zone of hypothermia.
Stand under that cold spray for just 2 or 3 minutes, then turn the water off. You may not step out of the shower feeling all warm and fuzzy. But, you will probably feel more alert!