In Russia, certain schools carried out a fun experiment, inspired by the military. Preschool children had to pour a bucket of cold water over their bodies, while they were wearing swimming costumes, outdoors and in the middle of winter, and then go into a sauna before going back to school. The goal? To prevent illness and boost the children’s immune systems. Suffice to say that this would be unimaginable in the UK! However, quick cold water baths have numerous health benefits, although there are some contra-indications.
The numerous benefits of cold showers
You may have already noticed that many thermal spas and baths have long used cold water to treat numerous ailments, such as certain skin problems or for improving circulation.
1) Cold water: a relaxing effect on the muscles
Quick cold showers can help ease muscle tension and exfoliate and soften the skin by eliminating dead skin cells. This is why a cold shower is recommended after doing exercise -a practice often employed by Olympic athletes and sportspeople.
Similarly, after a long day’s work in which you were on your feet for hours, a cold shower helps fight against inflammation in the veins, reactivating the circulation in the legs and preventing varicose veins.
2) Cold water combats skin and hair problems
Cold water is great for the scalp and the appearance of the hair, giving it back its vitality and shine, helping prevent hair loss and naturally eliminating dandruff. Hot water opens the pores of the hair and makes it greasier.
Cold water can also soothe eczema, itching and stings or bites.
3) It reinforces the immune defenses
Cold showers promote the production of red blood cells, thus boosting the immune defenses against bacteria and viruses. At the end of a warm shower, give a quick blast of cold water to prevent illnesses such as colds and flus.
Cold showers are also effective for treating other illnesses such as TB, inflammation of the sex organs, skin diseases and menstrual problems.
4) Cold water for weight loss
Brief cold showers can also have a diuretic effect, which is helpful for preventing the buildup of liquids and fats in the body. To prevent weight loss, cold showers are thus more effective than hot temperatures!
Cold showers: be aware of the contraindications
Cold showers are contraindicated for:
- people with hypothyroidism
- people with cardiac problems
- people with insomnia
Finally, a few precautions:
- avoid taking extremely cold showers, as these can cause stress, disrupting the cardiac rhythm and damaging the lungs. Immersion should be slow and progressive, gradually lowering the temperature from warm to cold.
- children should also be taught to gradually lower the temperature of the water, but it is important that the duration of the exposure to the cold water is short, and that the children are quickly warmed up afterwards.