Homemade polar bear club: Why I started taking cold showers
Cold showers went viral this year. I jumped on the bandwagon this summer and haven’t gone back, not even in winter. Here’s why:
- Indisputable health benefits. Cold showers and winter swimming aren’t fun. Neither is exercise. Humans do all three primarily for the health benefits, which include more vigor, less stress, higher immunity, improved complexion and skin, better circulation, and elevated alertness. Since switching to cold showers, I feel more alive not only in the act, but after the fact.
- Your body and lungs quickly adapt. The first time I took a cold shower, I started hyperventilating. “This is like ice water!” I complained. Then I started to breath through it. That’s key. After a few days, the water went from being insufferably icy to uncomfortably cold to sometimes refreshing. It’s amazing how the human body adapts.
- I still clean myself with warm water. This is my dirty secret. It’s called a “Scottish Shower.” I still enjoy the cleansing power of warm water. But after I’m lathered, I turn the dial on the coldest setting and rinse thoroughly several times over. Head. Chest. Arms. Pits. Back. Face. Undercarriage. Legs. Face again. All told, I probably spend two thirds of the time in warm water, one third in cold.
- I skipped one day and regretted it upon exiting. In a bout of laziness last month, I said, “To hell with it!” and finished warm like I used to. Big mistake. When I stepped out of the shower, I felt hot, bothered, and lethargic. I certainly didn’t want to tackle the day. In that moment, I instantly realized what all the fuss was about; why old people jump into frozen lakes; why Audrey Hepburn went to her grave swearing by cold showers. The simple answer: they are exhilarating. Once converted, the abundant health benefits become an afterthought.