Cold Shower vs Hot Shower | Which One Is Better?
The cold shower vs hot shower debate is one of the longest-standing topics of discussion out there. Learn about the pros and cons of each and understand which one is truly better with our guide below.
Cold Shower vs Hot Shower | The Benefits of Each
What are the Benefits of a Cold Shower?
When asking the question of “cold shower vs hot shower”, the first thing to understand is that they both have their own pros and cons. In this case, the benefits of having a cold shower include the following:
- Calms itchy skin – For those who may have skin conditions that cause them to itch, cold showers can help reduce the urge to scratch.
- Wakes you up – A cold shower is a perfect way to give your body a much-needed wake-up shock in the morning. According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, that shock increases your heart rate, oxygen intake, and alertness.
- Increases circulation – This is one of the top reasons why experts recommend having cold showers especially for people with cardiovascular problems. The same study in the previous item shows that cold showers constrict circulation on the body's surface, causing blood in deeper tissues to circulate faster and the body to maintain an ideal temperature.
- Reduces muscle soreness after exercise – A 2016 study states that cold water's regenerative properties help cool the body down and relax and repair the body's tense muscles after a hard workout.
- Boosts weight loss – Fat cells like brown fat generate heat when they burn fat. According to experts, this action is triggered when the body is exposed to cold conditions such as a cold shower.
- Gives skin and hair a healthy glow – As mentioned earlier, cold showers. constrict and tighten blood flow, giving the skin a healthier glow. In a recent study, researchers believe that this also gives you healthier and stronger hair as it closes and strengthens hair cuticles and doesn't dry out the sebum layer of the skin.
What are the Cons of a Cold Shower?
As with anything, cold showers also have their own set of negative effects. Some of these effects include:
- Makes it hard for the body to warm up – If already feeling cold, a cold shower is not an ideal option. The cooler temperature will not help you warm up by any means. In fact, it might make you feel even colder and make it harder for your body to warm up again.
- Not ideal for sick people – With an already challenged immune system, a cold shower is not a good option for individuals who are sick. If you are sick or you are just getting better, ease into those cold showers and avoid giving your body a shock it does not yet need.
What are the Benefits of a Hot Shower?
In any cold shower vs hot shower debate, the pros and cons of both have to be mentioned. The advantages of taking hot showers include:
- Helps you fall asleep faster – A hot shower before bed is the go-to solution for many people who have trouble falling asleep. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends this because a hot shower helps activate the body's parasympathetic nervous system, making it feel relaxed and ready for bed.
- Provides relief from respiratory symptoms – Standing under a hot shower and inhaling the steam it produces is a long-standing natural remedy for coughs and colds. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the heat from the steam helps loosen up phlegm, open airways, and clear out nasal passages.
- Helps with blemishes – Hot showers help in opening up the pores of the skin. The same study from the American Academy of Dermatology states that this is why dermatologists and skincare experts expose the skin to steam before ridding it of blackheads or whiteheads. A hot shower will make it easier for you to remove any trapped oil and dirt.
- Helps relax muscles – Hot showers also help relieve the body of tension and stress. A 2017 study published at the National Library of Medicine shows that they also reduce muscle fatigue and are a perfect way to relax after a long, tiring day at work.
What Are the Cons of a Hot Shower?
Just as cold showers have their pros and cons, so do hot showers. Here are the cons of taking hot showers:
- Irritates and dries out skin – The University of Utah warns against hot showers as they can cause the skin to become irritated and dried out. Hot water can damage keratin cells that are on the epidermis, the skin's outermost layer.
- Can worsen certain skin conditions – Because of its tendency to dry skin out, hot showers can make certain skin conditions such as eczema worse.
- Can cause itchiness – According to the Baylor College of Medicine, the heat from these showers can also cause mast cells that contain histamine to let their contents out into the skin, thus causing itching.
Which One Is Better?
As we have shown above, in the cold shower vs hot shower debate, there is no one clear answer on which one is truly and universally better. It depends mostly on understanding your body and its needs.
Ideally, experts recommend taking lukewarm showers and simply applying moisturizer to damp skin immediately afterward.
Another popular showering technique is called the contrast shower. Essentially, this technique tells the person to get the water at a temperature that is as cold as possible and to stand in it for a minute.
After a minute, switch the temperature to as hot as you can handle and stand in it again for another minute. Alternate between hot and cold for about three to five cycles.
The cold water should constrict the blood vessels, while the hot water helps them rush out again. This practice can help pump blood through the organs and the muscles and is great for helping the body regenerate and detoxify.
The long-standing cold shower vs hot shower debate is one that doesn't necessarily have to exist. Both alternatives offer benefits to the body. Learning what the pros and cons of each are, and understanding how your body responds to them, should be your priority if you want to live a healthier overall life.
Do you have other questions on the cold shower vs hot shower debate? Ask them in the comments section below!
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