I’d heard of people taking cold showers before, but most of it was anecdotal. One friend claimed it helped her wake up in the mornings, and someone else once told me that it was the secret to her shiny-smooth locks.
It wasn’t until recently, however, that I discovered just how much deeper this trend goes. And it goes really, really deep.
While listening to one of my favourite podcasts, I heard mention of something called the Wim Hof Method. On the podcast, they were speaking about it in the context of meditation, discussing how practitioners of this method follow a breathing pattern in extreme cold in order to clear the mind.
I really hate being cold, and apart from trying to rinse my hair off with cold water at the end of a shower as per the shiny hair advice, deliberately interacting with cold water is something I typically avoid. Yet something about this concept intrigued me — and when I found that the Instagram of the man behind the concept had 890K followers (and a photo of Oprah) my curiosity was piqued.
As it turns out, a lot of people really do this whole cold-shower thing, and what’s more, is that they seem to actually enjoy it and swear by the benefits.
What Is The Wim Hof Method?
Upon doing a little peeking into the method’s social media and official site, I found that the man behind the concept Wim Hof (otherwise known as the Iceman) has surpassed normal human capabilities all due to — you guessed it — sitting in the cold.
According to the site, Wim Hof and his practitioners have undergone numerous scientific studies showing that the method has allowed them to “control their sympathetic nervous system and their immune response.”
Following a step-by-step video course, the method can effectively be practised at home by anyone, anywhere. The four-lesson mini-class is free, but the 10-week video course will set you back about $294.00. Is it worth it, to basically be cold while breathing?
Many of Hof’s followers seem to think so, claiming that the method has actually changed their life. According to the Wim Hof Method website, benefits include improved mental health, better sports performance, less stress, more energy, better sleep, more willpower, better concentration. A glance at the comments on his Instagram photos shows people claiming all of these and more, but what does science say?
Are Cold Showers Actually Good for You?
As one of the three pillars of the Wim Hof Method, “Cold Therapy” is perhaps the most essential aspect setting this movement apart from other wellness movements. Citing cryotherapy as an expensive and inaccessible option, the Wim Hof Method turns to cold showers as a universally-available alternative. And as weird as it may sound, studies seem to agree.
Though they might be uncomfortable, there are actually many benefits to taking a cold shower. From your looks to your mood to your overall health, cold showers seem to be a good way to boost your health holistically. ”People have used cold water therapies for centuries as a treatment to invigorate and enhance their overall well-being,” Medical News Today reports. Furthermore, “some scientific studies support the beneficial effects of cold showers on mental and physical health.”
According to a study published by The North American Journal of Medical Sciences, cold water hydrotherapy can have a significant impact on our health. Women’s Health explains: “cold water produced documented relief for everything from pain and inflammation to aiding and abetting almost every system in the body.” It’s even said to help reduce anxiety, speed up the metabolism, and strengthen the immune system.
In addition to benefiting our different bodily systems, it turns out that there might be some truth behind showering in cold water for beauty-related purposes as well. “Cold water tightens and constricts the blood flow which gives your skin and hair a healthier glow,” Dr. Jacqueline Schaffer, MD, told Healthline.
Despite the fact that it might sound a little extreme, there is evidence to suggest that cold showers might actually benefit overall health. Whether it’s to cure skin conditions or boost your immune system, studies have shown that cold showers could potentially help such problems. If you’re as curious as I am to see if it actually works, try spending a little time under the cold water the next time you shower and see if you notice any differences.