March 30, 2020


Time to Read: 7 minutes

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From the journal of The Daily Thread

Are Cold Showers Good For you?

Cold showers offer many health benefits. Scientific studies prove some benefits. Medical professionals confirm others. And some are my personal theories.

The best thing about this health hack? You already have everything you need.

Cold Showers Make You Happier

I know this sounds crazy but a cold shower actually will make you a happier person. Cold water exposure activates your sympathetic nervous system. That controls how you respond to stressful situations.

Feeling anxious? Take a cold shower. You'll feel better. Make it a habit and stress won't have anything on you.

Cold water exposure increases blood levels of beta-endorphin. That's a powerful painkiller.

Cold water also increases levels of noradrenaline. That makes you more alert and improves reaction time.

Cold Showers Crank up your Immune System

In 2015, Dutch researchers found (forced) 3000 people to take cold showers. At the end of a hot shower, the first group switched the water to cold for 30 seconds. The second switched to cold for 60 seconds. The third switched to cold for 90 seconds. The control group only took hot showers.

People who took cold showers reported 29% less sick days at work. The good news? The researchers saw no difference based on shower duration. So turn that knob to cold, even if only for a few seconds.

Cold Showers Aren't Good Enough

Frigid showers caused a 29% decrease in sick days. Regular exercise caused a 35% decrease. When combined, researchers noted a 54% decrease in sick days!

Want to feel better? Move your body. Then douse it with cold water.

Cold Water is Great for Your Hair and Skin

Dermatologists (and supermodels) recommend cold showers. Hot water removes healthy and important oils from your skin. Cold water allows those oils to stay and work their magic.

I don't wash my hair every day. That's not good for hair either. When I do, I only use cold water. It never feels dry after.

Cold Water Improves your Blood Circulation

When cold water hits your skin, surface blood vessels constrict. This causes blood in deeper tissue to circulate faster. Your body will be working hard to maintain ideal temperature. It's like a workout for your circulation system.

Cold Showers Help you Lose Weight

Cold showers alone aren't going to shed the pounds. But they may help. Some fat cells turn chemical energy into heat. While shivering under a cold cascade, your fat cells will torch themselves to keep you toasty.

Cold Showers Make you More Fertile

This one is for men only. It's also an indirect benefit. I haven't found any research claiming cold showers increase sperm counts.

I did find research showing that hot water exposure does lower sperm counts.

At the UC San Francisco, men exposed themselves to hot water for 30+ minutes per week. The exposure continued for three months.

Six months and no hot water later, half the participants showed a 491% increase in sperm counts. The other half had a history of heavy tobacco usage. Tobacco is a known gonadotoxic material. Gonadotoxic is a fancy word meaning "harmful to your family jewels."

Give yourself the best shot at having a baby. Stop smoking and turn down the shower temp.

Cold Showers Reduce Your Utility Bills

If the water is cold, you'll spend less time pondering your life in the shower. Shorter showers mean lower water bills. Not heating water also means a lower power bill.

Ok. That's a stretch. But when you think about it...

Cold Showers Make you Feel Awesome

I have yet to take a cold shower and not feel like the king of the world after.

Who else takes cold showers?

If it's so great, is anyone important doing it?


Liam Neeson

To prepare for The Grey, Liam stood under freezing cold water for as long as he could. He got up to seven minutes. He was inspired by...

Wim Hof

Wim's nickname is "The Iceman". Cold therapy is the first pillar of his now famous Wim Hof Method. Wim's devoted his entire life to teaching the method.


  • 16-time world record: longest time in full body contact with ice (longest: 1 hour, 52 minutes, 2 seconds)

  • Fastest half marathon barefoot on ice and snow (2 hours, 16 minutes)

  • Climbed Mount Kilimanjaro wearing only shorts and shoes

  • Climbed to "The Death Zone" on Mount Everest wearing only shorts and shoes

    • Wim intended to summit. He did not because of a preexisting foot injury.

Miranda Kerr

You know... the supermodel.

James Bond

Bond takes a cold shower in every Ian Fleming novel except You Only Live Twice. 007 takes a cold shower 004 times in Casino Royale.

Tony Robbins

Love him or hate him. Tony may be the best public speaker alive. He starts every morning by plunging into 57ºF water. Doesn't sound that cold? Get a thermometer, turn your shower to 57ºF, and tell me it's not cold.

Tim Ferriss

If there's a weird health trick, Tim has tried it. He starts every day with a 30-60 second cold shower. He's also a Chinese National Kickboxing Champion, NYT bestselling author, and prolific investor. Portfolio includes:

  • Evernote

  • Shopify

  • Uber

  • TaskRabbit

  • StumbleUpon

How to Take Cold Showers

Here are a few suggestions for adding cold water therapy to your arsenal.

Start Slow

Quitting smoking is hard. When smokers stop with no help, AKA cold turkey, their success rate is only 5%. That's terrible. If you hop in a freezing cold shower for the first time in your life, you have a super low chance of making it a habit.

Keep your showers hot for now. Build up some courage. Then turn the knob a little colder. Remain in the cold for 1 minute, then turn it back to hot. Continue this practice until you are nearing 50ºF.

Before you know it, you'll learn to love the cold.

Do it in the morning

"To me, if you want a primetime life, you've got to prime daily." --Tony Robbins

Priming produces a rapid change in physiology. It's telling your body that sleepytime is over and world changing time has begun.

Every morning when Tony Robbins wakes up, he does the following:

  • Cold water plunge

  • Breathing exercise

  • 10 minutes of meditation

Find something that works for you and do it every morning.

Reward Yourself

I love doing things when other people are inside. If it's cold and wet, riding my bike is that much more fun. My runs are that much better. Hikes are ten times as enjoyable.

Normal people watch me from their windows. I imagine them saying, "What is that idiot doing?" I love it. But that's not my favorite part.

My favorite part is getting home, peeling off disgusting wet clothes, and jumping in a hot shower.

You know what's super nice after a cold shower? Hot coffee or tea. Want an even more immediate treat? Put a space heater in your bathroom or install a heat lamp. Game. Changed.

If you cold shower at the gym, you may even be able to hop in a dry sauna. You're the lucky ones.

Take a Lukewarm Shower

A cold shower is any shower below 70ºF. I don't know who came up with that, but it's the rule. You don't have to crank the temp way down to reap the benefits. Try making it a little colder. See if you like it.

Take a Hot Shower

We're humans. Not robots. Sometimes we have the discipline to do all the things we should. Sometimes we don't. Give yourself some grace if you can't turn the dial to cold.

If it happens day after day, that's a problem. If it's a lazy Saturday on your beach vacation, don't sweat it.

Advanced Techniques

Once you've gotten used to the shiver, try out these experts only tactics.

Channel your Inner James Bond

007 alternated between hot and cold water. While the water is hot, turn the knob as far as you can to the cold side. Leave it there for 1 minute, then turn it back to hot. I like to do this for three cycles.

Breathe like Wim Hof

Warning: Do this after your shower. Never practice the Wim Hof method near water. People have died because they fell unconscious doing the method in or near water. Don't be stupid.

Sit down in a comfortable position. Take 30 quick and deep breaths. Inhale through nose, exhale through mouth. Take another deep breath and exhale. Hold until you need to breathe again. Inhale as deep as possible then hold it for 10 seconds.

Start with one cycle. Add more as you feel comfortable. You may feel lightheaded or dizzy. You may even pass out. This is why you must take extreme care when practicing the Wim Hof breathing method.

I'll say it again. Don't you dare do this before or in the shower. Or near water ever.

Warning: This article presents some activities that may be hazardous. These opinions are the research and ideas of the author or those whose ideas the author presents. They are not intended to substitute for a trained healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before engaging in any potentially hazardous health practice. The author and The Daily Thread disclaim any responsibility for any adverse effects resulting directly or indirectly from information in this article.

Please don't do anything stupid.

Challenge Yourself This Week

Add 30 seconds of cold water to your shower three times this week. We'll check back in next Monday.

Ask The Daily Thread

"What's the difference between chambray and denim?" -- Henry from New York

Chambray is made using a plain weave pattern. The warp is vertical thread. The weft is horizontal thread. In chambray, the warp is colored and the weft is white. Horizontal streaks are present in a true chambray shirt.

chambray shirt pattern

Denim is made using a twill weave pattern. There are two warp (vertical) threads, usually blue. There is one weft (horizontal) thread, left white. The twill weave pattern shows the warp thread color on one side and the weft thread color on the other. This is why the inside of your jeans is lighter than the outside.

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