The Power Of Cold Showers
Are they right for you?
By: Luis Leonardo, Contributor
For the ones that don’t know me, I am originally from Guatemala “the country of the eternal spring”. Moving to Minnesota was not an easy transition for me. Every winter I started noticing that my body would have to pay the ultimate winter price of getting at least two massive colds during that season. This became the “normal” for me during the first three years of my MN experience; and I was getting very frustrated to face the winter each year.
What to do?
For someone that is constantly looking for ways to stay fit, strong, and knowing that for my job; I need my body in top shape to be available for all of my personal training clients. My body thrives during the struggles, and almost every time I get to be out of my comfort zone, I know that my body will learn a powerful lesson.
In the winter of 2015, I chose to explore the daily “Cold Showers Ritual”. I had heard from several fitness gurus, such as “The Iceman” (Wim Hof), that exposure to the cold could be extremely beneficial for your health. For me, the idea to expose myself to more cold during the winter sounded like a terrible idea. Additionally, it was contrary to my belief I had installed in my mind since I was a little kid, that you need to keep your body warm or you will get sick.
Implementing a Plan
In January of 2015, I took my very first cold shower at 4am, right after I woke up and before I headed to the gym to coach clients. The experience was so horrible, it barely lasted one full minute. However, the experience of dealing with “fear” as the first thing I did in the morning, gave me a great sense of accomplishment. Right after I finished getting dressed I noticed that my body was generating more heat to keep me warm. It was a great feeling! That whole morning, I felt very awake, so I figured, if this will help my body and mind stay sharp, it had to be worth doing it daily.
Fast forward to today. I have been taking cold showers every single day. I also discovered that doing a regular warm shower and then cutting the hot water off to full cold was easier for me than just getting directly into the cold water. Now, I typically do 3-4 minutes in the cold, making sure I hit the tender areas of my body such as, neck, back, arm pits, head and face very well. I have NOT had another cold since 2015; and what used to be so hard, is not a big deal anymore.
To top things off, I have discovered that my body has way more tolerance to the cold. To get more exposure to it, I allow myself to walk in and out of my car all winter long without wearing a coat to continue getting more exposure to the cold. I believe this has helped my body stay strong and more resistant to the cold.
What I used to hate, I have learned to love, as I see how many good things it does for my body. Exposing yourself to the elements will allow your body to do what is supposed to do. The way we live our lives today is very sedentary/comfortable. If we get too warm, we turn the A/C on, if we get cold, we add layers and crank the heat up.
The human body is an incredible thing that knows what to do, if you give it a chance. Try living more out of your comfort zone and you will discover how powerful your body can be.
As always, consult with your physician before beginning any workout, diet, or health and fitness related venture. Just like anything, this may not be for you. If you are given the OK, and want to try cold showers, or cold exposure, ease yourself into it.
As you saw, I didn’t just start at 3-4 minutes and not wearing a coat. Don’t even start with ice cold water! If you are a steaming hot shower type of person, start a couple times a week with a luke warm minute or two AFTER your hot shower. Then after a few weeks do a couple days of 1 min cold water exposure. Then increase your days, before you increase your time under cold water! Once you can do almost everyday at 1 min of cold water, then start increasing your minutes. Do 2 minutes a couple times a week, then three, so on and so forth.
Pair this with proper nutrition and exercise; just doing cold showers won’t make you healthy 😉
Get comfortable with the uncomfortable and train your mind too! The cold will be your warmth!