Sustainability made simple

Contrast Showers: What Are the Benefits?

Contrast shower
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / PublicDomainPictures

Contrast showers can provide many physical and mental health benefits. We'll tell you how to take a contrast shower, as well as the health benefits that they provide.

What Are Contrast Showers?

Contrast showering is the act of quickly changing the water temperature from hot to cold and back again. This generally involves showering as normal for a few minutes and then turning the shower temperature from hot to cold repeatedly for one minute at a time. Just a few minutes of contrast showering can have many health benefits. The main aim of this type of showering is to force your tissues to adapt to sudden changes in temperature, and this can act as a gentle workout for them. Having a cold shower may seem unappealing, but we’ll tell you all about the potential health benefits that make it well worth trying. 

How to take a contrast shower:

  • Shower in warm/hot water for 3-5 minutes.
  • Switch to cool/cold water for 1 minute only.
  • Repeat 3-5 times.
  • Finish the shower with cold water.

Although contrast showers have many benefits, it’s not very sustainable considering the total shower time of approx. 25 minutes and the high water usage. Therefore, we recommend keeping the warm/hot water shower as short as possible. 

1. Boosts Circulation

Immersion in cold water is linked to improved circulation.
Immersion in cold water is linked to improved circulation.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Pexels)

Taking contrast showers over time will allow your circulatory system to become more efficient. This is because there is decreased blood flow to the skin when you are exposed to cold water, and when the cold water stops, the body has to heat itself up again by increasing blood flow to the surface of the skin. Over time, your heart will get used to sending blood rushing to your vital organs when your body is shocked by the sudden cold water. This is all a part of your body trying to conserve its natural core temperature. A 2020 study has found that cold water immersion after exercise improved blood flow to and from muscles after four weeks. 

2. Boosts Your Immune System

Contrast showers can help to boost your immune system.
Contrast showers can help to boost your immune system.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / GregoryButler)

A 2016 study of 3,000 participants that was carried out by the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam found that people who took a daily cold shower following a warm shower of either 30 seconds, 60 seconds or 90 seconds for a period of one month led to a 29 percent reduction in the reported sickness absence at work, compared to those who only had warm showers. The results of this study show how contrast showering can improve not just your overall health but also your quality of life and productivity. Contrast showering is known to boost the immune system because cold water exposure stimulates white blood cell production in your blood, particularly leukocytes, which are types of white blood cell that help your body fight pathogens and fungal infections. An earlier study from 2007 has even connected cold showers to improved cancer survival. 

3. Can Help With Depression

Cold water stimulates the brain into releasing endorphins.
Cold water stimulates the brain into releasing endorphins.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / 955169)

Contrast showering may also be a way to improve your mood. A study from 2008 has found that immersion in cold water can relieve depressive systems effectively. Cold water is very stimulating to the brain as it causes endorphins to be released quickly, and this is similar to the effects that cold water swimming has on the brain. Having a cold shower can activate the high-density cold receptors on the skin, which sends a vast amount of electrical impulses to the brain, and this may have an anti-depressive effect. If anything, having a contrast shower is a great way to get a natural energy boost in the morning. 

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