Are cold showers in the winter good? | Health

Nothing is more relaxing than a shower after a long day. But as the leaves fall and the season changes, some of us might swap our cold showers for hot ones while still others will continue to opt for the cold one. And, as it turns out cold showers are superior to hot showers and can provide greater health benefits. The type of shower you take has a significant impact on both the quality of your day and your health in general. While we may shudder to even think of having a cold water shower, there are several benefits to it.

{{^userSubscribed}} {{/userSubscribed}} {{^userSubscribed}} {{/userSubscribed}} Cold showers can be refreshing for young healthy individuals but can have adverse effects for older people with health issues. (Shutterstock)

the good

Bathing/showering in under 15 degree Celsius water is considered as a cold shower and work best for healthy young individuals as it helps wake you up and has several health benefits.

Cold shower work to enhance blood circulation to the organs, boost immunity and metabolism, help in losing weight over time, and increases energy levels explains Dr Divya Gopal, consultant, department of Internal medicine, Sir HN Reliance hospital and Research centre, Mumbai.

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Adding, Dr. Santosh Kumar Agrawal, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Marengo QRG Hospital Faridabad says “Taking cold baths or showers help increase blood circulation in the body. Cold baths make the blood travel to your organs and help keep you warm. On showering with hot water, the blood moves towards the surface of the skin and reverses the effect of a cold bath. Cold water baths can also help make the arteries stronger and reduce blood pressure. “

Dr Jasmeet Singh, Internal Medicine and Critical Care Specialist, Shalby Multispecialty Hospitals, Mohali says “it helps to relieve irritated skin, reduce swelling, and alleviate muscle aches and helps in recovery post a workout. It can help fast muscle recovery as cold water bath aids to overcome muscle soreness. It is known as cold compression. Research has also shown that exposing your body to cold temperatures, even if it’s just a quick cold shower, can lower levels of uric acid and boost the production of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce oxidative stress.”

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Dr Santosh Kumar Agrawal, explains “Cold water showers also help in boosting immunity as the percentage of white blood cells and a high metabolic rate increases. Your body tries to warm itself up while having a bath with cold water. In this process, the body is likely to release white blood cells and help activate your immune system. They can also cold showers can play a key role to cope up with depression as it has a positive effect and boosts one’s mood. Hence, you may feel stress free after taking a bath with cold water.

Dr Sunil Jain, HOD Emergency Medicines, Jalsok Hospital and Research Center adds, “a cold shower can be great for your skin and hair as it tighten the cuticles and pores, prevents them from getting clogged with dirt. The cold water also helps in boosting immunity. If you bathe with cold water, there will be a higher percentage of white blood cells and a high metabolic rate. This is because the body tries to warm itself up during a cold shower, and in the process, tends to release white blood cells and activates one’s immune system.”

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the bathroom

Taking a bath or shower in cold water during the winter may turn more fatal as it may cause brain stroke or heart attack. Immersing in cold water lowers the central body temperature and accelerates total peripheral vascular resistance which consequently increases arterial blood pressure leading to brain attack. Sudden exposure to cold water could be detrimental for people with heart disease.

Owing to Cold water, Body gets shocked and blood vessels in the skin shrink, making the blood flow in your body slow. Consequently, the heart works harder and beats faster to be able to pump blood throughout the body including the brain.

Dr Vikas Gupta, director, Neurosurgery Department, Kailash Deepak Hospital, Delhi says “During the winter, we have observed a substantial increase in the incidence of brain stroke. During the colder months, our blood gets thicker and the blood vessels temporarily get narrowed, which can shoot up the blood pressure, rupture the blood vessels and lead to bleeding in the brain known as hemorrhagic stroke. This can cause disability and even be fatal.”

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Elderly population, those with pre-existing diseases like diabetes, hypertension, peripheral vascular disease, history of brain stroke or those suffering with heart diseases are likely to be hit harder by stroke after taking a bath in cold water in winter months. Not to say that younger or healthy people will not be affected, especially those who are obese or are heavy smokers.

Dr Sanket Jain, consultant pulmonologist with Masina Hospital, Mumbai, The most significant disadvantage of using cold water in the winter is when a person is ill. It can increase the amount of time it will take for your body to warm back up and suppresses the immune system, making it difficult for a sick person to fight the disease.

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Dr Santosh Kumar Agrawal, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Marengo QRG Hospital, Faridabad says “Avoid cold water baths if you are low on immunity. Cold water can make you prone to a plethora of health issues like cold, cough, pneumonia, irritation in the throat and fever. People with comorbidities should refrain from taking a cold shower. For instance, if you are suffering from heart disease, or even high blood pressure, taking a bath with cold water can deteriorate your health.”

Things to remember t stay warm in the winters:

1. Always use warm or lukewarm water to take a bath.

2. Never pour water on your head first while bathing as it may raise the risk of stroke. Pour cold water on the body first, then on the head.

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3. Regular exercise helps keep your body warm and to stay physically active, exercise for at least 30 minutes daily. Opt for outdoor activities such as running, jogging, or indoor movements like light aerobics, yoga, Zumba, dancing, or meditation.

4. Eat a healthy and balanced diet like fresh, seasonal fruits and green vegetables available in winter. Avoid fried, fatty, processed food as these food items contain sugar.

5. Consumption of food high in sugar food items may increase cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Inputs from Dr Vikas Gupta, director, Neurosurgery Department, Kailash Deepak Hospital, Delhi

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