Health benefits of cold showers

I’ve recently started to take cold showers, I find them to be extremely refreshing and pleasant. In my random searching on the interwebs I’ve come across a variety of the so called “health benefits” of taking cold showers, everything from improved circulation to longer life and weight loss. Most of these sound absolutely and utterly ridiculous, and I’ve had no luck finding any actual studies on the subject, just pseudo scientific claims from various locations. Although I have little doubt that most claims are outright false I was curious if there was any real evidence for any benefits of cold showers.

Lower hot water bill.

Back in the 1990s I heard a radio show on CBC—I think it was Quirks & Quarks, which has a pretty good reputation for science journalism—where some scientist presented his findings on the health benefits of cold baths. They were quite remarkable. I wish I could hear that show again so that I could look up the original research. Alas, I can’t find any mention of it on the Quirks & Quarks website—I don’t think their online archive goes back that far anyway.

Cold showers won’t dry out your skin as much as hot showers.

It is claimed that cold exposure in general has many health benefits, mainly increasing metabolism and promoting fat loss -

The old-timey strongmen and health gurus, like Charles Atlas and Eward William Barton-Wright, were great believers in the benefits of cold showers. They praised cold showers as a “tonic to the nerves” and reducer of unclean urges.

Well who wants that?

We have the internet now to take care of that!


Isn’t that the opposite of what happens? I was under the impression that hot showers/baths were worse for testosterone and sperm count.

My guess is that, if you are standing under a cold shower, you will be less likely to linger than you would under a comfortably warm shower. It is during the lingering that the temptation to self-gratify rears its ugly head.

Like exercise, cold showers are a form of hormesis (a stress placed upon the body that increases resistance to other stressors).

Cold water therapy has been shown to improve mood, reduce fatigue, and promote non-shivering thermogenesis:

Sperm counts are reduced if the, uh, boys are kept too warm. Lots of hot baths could do this, though tight-fitting underwear is generally seen as a more likely issue. But I don’t believe this affects hormone levels at all. So lots of hot baths means the same amount of urges, just less likely for those urges to be effective at procreation.

I suppose if there’s some kind of contaminant in the water, that’s more dangerous when inhaled that absorbed topically, and has a boiling point (more or less) above the cold water temperature and below the hot water, then hot showers would be more unhealthy than cold ones.

How cold are we talking? Only cold water? Luke warm?

Interesting, but it looks like those are all related to cold water swimming, which would be for longer periods of time, and is likely colder. Perhaps some of the claims are based of extended immersion rather that short showers?

These studies you posted aren’t very on point.

This one is about cold water swimming. Swimming is not the same as taking a shower. The abstract suggests the controls did not swim(I don’t have pubmed access).

This one has nothing to do with cold at all. It is about the health benefits of swimming.

Same link as the first one.

Come on. This one is in russian! The title is “Change in the cortical and subcortical reactions in children during mental fatigue and its elimination by means of cold and muscular work”.

This one has no abstract, so I can’t tell if it backs up your claims.

Again, not really relevant. This one is about the effects of cold water on fatigue after sprinting. Not a health benefit.

A study of 8 people with Multiple Sclerosis. They studied the effects of a special “cold suit” on fatigue.

This link is also completely irrelevant. It is about how you burn calories when you are cold, absent shivering.

Please read your own links before posting them.

Do you have links to better examples of studies that answer the OP’s question?

Put up or shut up.

You made a claim, and provided as proof a big block of links. I’m saying your proof is bogus. Several of them weren’t relevant at all. Either you didn’t read them, or you intentionally put in irrelevant links to make it look like more.

There is no proof of significant health benefits from cold showers.

I never made such a claim. Try reading for comprehension next time.

I never said you did. That is what I’m claiming.

Your claim:

There is no reliable evidence to support your first 2 claims, and your third claim is ridiculous. Your statement above suggests that “non-shivering thermogenesis” is a good thing.

So basically your third claim was that cold water causes your body to generate heat.

Really no point in engaging you when it’s obvious you don’t understand anything about science. Your username suits you perfectly.

Yea, I think “cold” is a bit vague here too.

If you take a shower with what comes out of the tap in Florida in July, its going to be a COMPLETELY different temperature than what comes out of the tap in Boston in January.

Most people would not call the latter “refreshing.” More like painful.