As like many leaders in the fitness and wellness space, Contrast Showers and Cold Thermogenesis features in my Top Five Wellness tips that have the biggest impact on mind and body.
Give it a try – you’ll feel AMAZING!
Why Cold Contrast Showers – The Benefits Summarised:
FEELING / MENTAL
#1 – Invigorated and Energized – 100%, you will feel more awake and alive for hours following the suggested approach below. Your heart starts pumping, and the rush of blood through your body helps shake off the cobwebs of sleep.
#2 – Satisfaction & Mental Strength – Purposefully tackling something hard and uncomfortable, daily, and then growing to enjoy it, give you a sense of early success in the morning. A common strait in successful people. It helps increase your pain tolerance too.
#3 – Stress Reducer – Many people report that cold showers help reduce stress. Short cold showers may stimulate the brain’s production of noradrenaline — a chemical that could help mitigate depression.
#1 – Break the Chronic Stress Cycle – In todays age, we carry with us too much chronic stress from all the stimulation, demand and things to worry about. Purposely putting yourself through physiological acute stress – such as working out or cold showers, increase the stress levels temporarily, but it importantly breaks the chronic stress cycle and you bounce back adapted. Hardier and less mentally stressed out. The more you do cold showers, the more permanent and profound the pattern interrupt becomes.
#2 – Greater Cold Tolerance – As you do this repeatedly, you will notice you are hardier at handling extremes, both hot and cold. We’ve allowed our bodies to get too lazy when it comes to thermal control and regulation.
#3 – Improve Circulation – Cold water causes your blood to move to your organs to keep them warm. Warm water reverses the effect by causing the blood to move towards the surface of the skin.
#4 – Accelerate the Elimination of Waste Byproducts – Both from your trained inflamed muscles, and from your internal organs. By rapidly shrinking and expanding blood vessels, an oscillating pumping action of your lymphatic system occurs (i.e. out with the bad, in with the good).
#5 – Increase Metabolism & Elicit Extra Fat Loss by Activating Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT) – Unlike white fat that is used to store energy, BAT is used to heat up the body by rapidly burning calories in White Fat and Blood Glucose. BAT, is primarily found around your collar bones, sternum, neck, and upper back.
#6 – Assist in Blood Sugar Control – Cold activates a hormone called Adinopectin, that breaks down fat and shuttles glucose into muscles. Low adiponectin levels have been associated with obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
#7 – Exercise your Thermo Regulatory Systems – These systems have gotten lazy with central heating, cloths and Air Con. Train you body to better tolerate extreme temperatures (hot and cold), that will only serve you well in life.
#8 – Enhance Immune System – Cold therapy has been proven to enhance the immune system, primarily by increasing levels of immune system cells that help fight disease and infection.
#9 – Lessening of Pain From Swollen Trained/Injured Muscles & Joints – Reduces the excitation of the nervous system around swollen tissue by shrinking blood vessels surrounding an injured area. This elevates pain.
How To Do Cold Contrast Showers:
There are various ways to go about this. There are also more extreme forms of cold thermogenesis such as ice baths, cold plunge pools and special all-body freezing cold chambers. Most of which is inaccessible or impractical for the average person.
That’s why I do the below. I feel great after it. It’s easy and practical. And most importantly, you know you are doing yourself some good daily, against the backdrop of all the daily stresses and dramas.
- Start with HOT– Go as high as you can go. I’ve built up to 48 degrees celsius.
- COLD Blast no. 1 – Step away from the water and dial the heat down as low as you can brave it. I can now go to 15 degrees celsius. 30-60secs. Front and head.
- Back to HOT – Back to your max heat. Couple mins, mostly on your back.
- COLD Blast no. 2 – Down to min again. Mostly on your back and neck, where the BAT is situated. 30-60 secs
- One last HOT – Back to max heat. All over warming up. Couple mins.
- Finish with COLD! – Down to min temperature. 1-2mins. Just embrace it, full body. Down regulate from the heat from before.
My Contrast Showers last about 10-12mins. I won’t lie, it’s indulgent. I could be quicker, but it’s nice to get this down time and stress reliever. Obviously, during the shower, you’re washing yourself! Probably best when it’s hot, for enjoyment.
It’s important to finish on cold. Don’t worry, within twenty seconds or so your body temprature will sting back up to something normal. You won’t be shivering for hours. If you finish on a super hot shower, you’ll just be sweating and be all flustered for ages – not good when you need to try and get ready for the day.
BONUS WELLNESS TIP: Incorporate Wim Hoff Breathing whilst having a cold Shower. Wow – it’s a big upgrade on the exhilarating feel good factor once you step out of the shower.
The Power of Swinging the Stress Response Pendulum
You would have activated your Sympathetic Nervous System (fight or flight), but in a deliberate and acute fashion. It’s likely you’ll feel strong, confident, alive and raring to go.
And don’t worry about the Sympathetic activation, because this approach creates a strong rebound effect, where it will activate your Parasympathetic Nervous System (rest and digest) in a more pronounced and longer lasting manner. Especially when combined with the Wim Hof Breathing Technique.
The net result is that you are training your body to handle greater stress more comfortable. combined with rebounding into long periods of activating your parasympathetic energy system.
Want More Info & Insight?
If you want to hear from the Wim Hof on both cold exposure and Wim Hof Breathing, and you like long form discussion, then definitely check out Russell Brand’s interview with Wim Hof. Both hilarious, insightful, scientific and profound.
This brilliant interview is also in Apple Podcasts, if Podcasts are more your jam.
Follow this Wellness Tip of The Day blog as it unfolds. Comment if you have questions or ideas.