A Chilling Encounter

If you read  300,  Like Spartan, you might have noticed that one of the daily habits listed in my habit tracking Google Sheet is ‘Cold Shower’.

I wanted to dig into the what and perhaps more interestingly the why… why the hell would I have a cold shower every day,  or at least 300 days of every year?

The What

When I say cold shower, I mean that I have a shower as normal but that once I am finished the normal bit I flick the temperature the whole way round to cold and stand under it, making sure the cold water hits all of me at some point in that final minute.

The Why

It’s a fair question, because it goes without saying that standing under the shower for a minute isn’t the most comfortable thing to do.

The 4-Hour Body, published 2010

Tim tells us in The 4-Hour Body that 6 of the reasons to take a cold shower include:

  1. It capitalises on “fat-burning fat” through the stimulation of BAT thermogenesis.
  2. It improves immunity,  especially after pre-heating with a warm shower, as I do. Increased circulation of norepinephrine may account for this.
  3. It’s a proven treatment for depression. I figure that prevention is better than cure.
  4. There are plausible mechanisms for how cold treatment could positively affect sex hormones.
  5. 30 mins of cold exposure leads to fatty acid release to provide fuel for heat production through shivering. I don’t have another 29 minutes but figured that doing it every day might trigger some of these benefits.
  6. Shorter durations could increase adiponectin levels and glucose uptake by muscle tissue and that the effect persists long after cold exposure ends.

Note that The 4-Hour Body was written in 2010. My sense is that since then the evidence supporting the benefits has improved. For example, there is plenty written more recently in popular media about the practice:

So there is plenty out there informing us of lots of benefits. 

I don’t get ill often (immunity, check?), have a baby on the way (sex hormones, check?), am much more lanky runner than stocky second-row (fat burn, check) and don’t suffer from any major mental health challenges (depression fended off, check?). 

How much of any of that is due to that chilly minute each morning is hard to say but it’s part of the reason I keep at it.

But the main reason that keeps me at it is the one alluded to in the Spectator article, which was published a couple of years after I started the habit.

I do it because it’s something which is hard, I don’t have to do it, but once I’ve done it I really have a sense, especially when done early in the day, that I have grabbed a hold of my day and it is under my control rather than me being under it and there is nothing else that I might have to do that day which is quite as uncomfortable as 3-4 seconds after the dial is turned to full to the left and that first cold water running down my back.

I hope I have convinced you of the benefits and that you might just consider giving it a go, the sense of ‘I will smash this day’ is empowering!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *