As I shared last week… one of the Exodus disciplines I’ve decided to continue is the practice of taking cold showers. To many, this may sound a little crazy but, as I hope to share in this article, there are many potential benefits.
With this said, we most definitely encourage you to check with your doctor before making any changes… especially if you have any sort of heart issue.
1. Wakes You Up and Increases Alertness
First, cold showers most definitely wake you up! And, if you’ve ever taken a cold shower, or even turned the water cold for 30 seconds to finish a warm shower, you know that it can be hard to breathe and you may even find yourself gasping for air.
Well, as it turns out, this deep breathing increases oxygen intake as well as your heart rate resulting in more natural alertness.
And while it’s not very scientific… I definitely feel stronger and more focused after a cold shower.
2. Helps You Lose Fat
Did you know you have two types of fat? We all do – white and brown fat.
White fat is what we’re all battling… it’s the “bad” fat we’re trying to lose. Brown fat, however, is our friend… its job is to keep us warm. And, according to this study, brown fat is activated by cold water and could result in significant weight loss.
3. Makes You Happier
If you’re in a rut, or even battling full-blown depression, cold showers could possibly help. In fact, a 2007 study found evidence that cold showers may be more effective than anti-depressants. The non-scientific reason for this is cold water can cause feel good neurotransmitters to flood the brain.
4. Helps Reduce Muscle Soreness
We’ve all heard of athletes taking ice baths in order to reduce muscle soreness. Well, as it turns out, cold showers can also help! This study of soccer players suggested that cold-water immersion immediately after a soccer match reduced muscle damage and discomfort.
5. Increases Holiness
Lastly, and this is definitely my personal opinion based on taking more than 100 cold showers the past few months, I believe cold showers to be an excellent way to practice asceticism and mortification.
Mortification helps to “put to death” the cancer cells of sin; asceticism brings a discipline that makes us increasingly free and responsible.
I’ve found it helpful to unite the minor sufferings I experience during cold showers to the cross for friends and loved ones that need prayer.
I also find cold showers to be an excellent way to suffer well. In short, I believe cold showers have helped me to grow in holiness.
With this said, St. Jerome offered some excellent advice as it pertains to mortification we’d all do well to keep in mind.
Be on your guard when you begin to mortify your body by abstinence and fasting, lest you imagine yourself to be perfect and a saint; for perfection does not consist in this virtue. It is only a help; a disposition; a means though a fitting one, for the attainment of true perfection.
Until next time… be holy, eat clean, and do more push-ups!