The weather is heating up, but should your showers be cooling down? While you might automatically take less scalding showers in the summer, there’s a case to be made for turning the temperature down even more dramatically. Cold water immersion, including showering, has been found to have many potential health benefits. In this post, we’ll explore the research on taking cold showers and share tips for how to handle the colder temperatures.

What Are The Supposed Benefits Of Cold Showers?

Cold showers have several potential benefits. While individual experiences may vary, cold showers have been claimed to enhance blood circulation, increase alertness, boost the immune system, reduce muscle soreness, and improve insulin sensitivity. While this sounds amazing, it’s important not to get carried away following rumors. Let’s take a look at the research behind these purported benefits and whether there’s any legitimacy to them.

1. Improved circulation

When your body is met with cold water, it increases circulation in order to keep the internal organs warm (1). This increase in blood flow requires more energy and thereby increases metabolism, temporarily. Therefore, the claim that cold showers can improve circulation has some validity to it. However, the results may be short lived.

2. Increased Alertness

Think about a time you washed your face with cold water to help you feel more awake. It should come as no surprise that cold water exposure can make you feel more awake and alert. As mentioned above, taking a cold shower increases circulation, thereby increasing oxygen and nutrient delivery throughout the body. This increase can also boost alertness.


3. Boosted Immune System

A 2016 study looked at the effects of taking hot-to-cold showers with some interesting findings (2). The study was conducted on 3018 healthy participants between 18-65 years old. For 3 months, some participants took normal showers with a concluding interval of cold water, while others only took normal showers. The findings of this study showed a 29% reduction in sickness absences from work among the group that took cold showers, based on self-reported results.

Additionally, daily cold stress might strengthen the immune system by increasing key immune cells that fight tumors, such as peripheral natural killer cells and CD8+ T lymphocytes (3). (It’s important to note that this particular study was conducted on mice and these findings were based on cold water immersion rather than showers.)

While these studies don’t provide strong evidence to prove that a stronger immune system is an effect caused by cold showers, it does lend some strength to the claim that cold showers boost immune function.

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4. WorkOut Recovery

Cold water immersion post-workout is popular with many professional athletes. The reason for this is that cold water immersion immediately after exercise has been shown to reduce muscle soreness and tiredness (4). These effects may help to speed up recover post-work out.

5. Increased Insulin Sensitivity

A review of 104 different studies on cold water immersion stated that it “seems to reduce and/or transform body adipose tissue, as well as reduce insulin resistance and improve insulin sensitivity” (5). However, it also suggests that more research is needed before anything can be concluded, due to the limitations of the studies that led to this belief. Even if cold showers can help with insulin function to some degree, we don’t recommend replacing your current blood sugar management routine with cold showers.

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Who Should Not Try Cold Water Immersion / Cold Showers

If you have heart disease, cold water exposure can add stress on your heart and cause negative impacts (1). Even if you do not have heart disease, we still recommend consulting with your doctor before attempting cold water immersion, especially if you have any health conditions.

How To Take A Cold Shower

If you’re interested in trying out cold showers, there’s some good news: you don’t have to jump into a freezing shower and stand there in discomfort until you can bear it no longer. You can take a normal shower and then gradually reduce the water temperature. For cold water exposure, all you need is about 30 seconds with the temperature around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (1).


While more research is needed to fully understand the benefits and mechanisms of cold water therapy, some people find that it can improve circulation, boost the immune system, enhance alertness, and aid in muscle recovery. If you’re curious and healthy enough to try, gradually incorporating cold showers into your routine might provide some noticeable benefits – but don’t set your expectations too high. In any case, you should always consult with a healthcare provider if you have any health concerns before starting new practices like cold water immersion.

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Trina used to be a full time hospital dietician but now works as a medical secretary in a small clinic. She and Mr. Walker are proud empty-nesters living in Denver, Colorado and looking forward to the next time their children come to visit. On the weekends, Trina enjoys visiting Bonita, Chino, and Bernardo, the golden lion tamarins at the Denver Zoo.

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