Cold Showers May Aid Blood Sugar

Cold plunges have been in fashion as a wellness trend this year. People claim it helps manage stress, improves sleep, aids energy and more.

Many claims about ice baths aren’t based on science. For instance, they don’t make you heal faster or burn calories. But, there are health benefits from being exposed to cold water. You can skip the ice and jump in a cold shower.

A study found that people who started taking cold showers had a 29 percent reduction in “sick days” at work. A different study has healthy men swim in cold water for five months. They saw significant boosts in their white blood cell count and improvements in their immune systems.

Cold water can also aid blood sugar health. A study looked at women who swam in cold water for five months. Their insulin sensitivity improved. Cold showers can also lower levels of chronic inflammation. Part of it is the shock it gives the body to the temperature change.  

Prof. Mike Tipton of the Extreme Environmental Laboratory at Portsmouth Univ. explained it. “You have control of your breathing sooner; your heart rate is lower and as part of that habituation we think is cross adaptive to other stresses and is actually anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is of course something to underpin quite a lot of our modern condition’s problems from Alzheimer’s to depression, and [blood sugar concerns].”

You should always speak to your doctor before changing your routine to ensure an action is right for you. The biggest problem most people have with cold showers is the discomfort. In one study, 91 percent of participants said they would continue to take cold showers, but only 64 percent stuck to them. Also, if a shower is too cold, it can make thinking harder. And they can be dangerous for people with heart or lung problems.

Taking a cold shower doesn’t mean standing under ice-cold water for 10 minutes. Instead, you should spend at least 30 seconds in water that is between 50 to 60 degrees F. After three minutes, the benefits actually decrease; longer showers aren’t better. Adding 30 cold seconds into your day might boost your health, but taking a plunge into an ice bath isn’t necessary!

Warm showers are comforting and can improve sleep. People talk anecdotally about how energizing cold showers are. They can certainly be a jolt to the system! Depending on your sleep quality, they might be better suited to morning showers. They could help you wake up, whereas a warm shower helps ease you into a more relaxed, sleepy state of mind.  

Banner image: Andrea Davis via Unsplash

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