Well Ok Gene if you insist. Hello fit fam. You may recall a couple of weeks ago I posted my first staying fit over 50 blog and talked about a few of my fitness hacks and routines. One of these daily routines is taking a cold shower first thing in the morning. This is also and better known as the James Bond or the Scottish shower, but James isn’t the only famous person to dip their toe into the icy waters. Katherine Hepburn started taking cold baths as a child and continued them into her adult life and Charles Darwin was another famous figure to endure the shrinkage to reap the benefits.
So where did this all start? How did something so unnatural as a cold shower or bath come into favor? I’m so glad you asked. Let’s take a brief look at the history of this not so well kept health secret.
Let’s start with the Spartans. Everyone knows who they are thanks to the movie 300, well unless you actually paid attention in history class then you may have heard of them there. The Spartans who like most ancient cultures didn’t bathe all that frequently, but when they did they bathed in ice cold water. The belief was that it made the body hard for battle.
We can also take a look at my ancestors the Scandinavians. These people would get their sweat on in a sauna then jump into a frozen lake or river. They called it ice hole swimming and it is still done today.
Even our own Native Americans practiced a similar tradition of going from a sweat lodge to a snow bank or body of cold water.
In the 1820’s a German man by the name of Vincenz Priessnitz started talking about this new fangled medical treatment using ice cold water a treatment he called hydrotherapy and how it could be used to cure any ailment from head to toe up to and including ED. Twenty three years later the first hydrotherapy clinic opened in the good ol US of A. After it’s hayday in the late 19th century hydrotherapy just kinda faded away as more modern medicine (big Pharma) and the almighty dollar took over. If you think about it though it never really went away as athletes all around the world still use ice baths to heal to this day.
So why is hydrotherapy making a comeback? I think we have modern medicine, modern technology, big Pharma and the almighty dollar to thank. THEY are trying to convince us that we need something THEY convinced us was witchcraft just a century ago.
Enter Cryotherapy. (Actual add) “Using our electric Whole Body Cryotherapy system we expose the body to sub zero temperatures for 2 - 3 minutes.” The add then goes on to sing the praises of cryotherapy and let you know how you too can own your own cryo business starting around $75,000 and going up to $600,000. What, you can’t afford that kinda money? Well Just give us a $20 for a trial session or $400 a month for 5 people once a day. Just step into our machine and when your done leave your money on the nightstand. Heck THEY have even been so kind as to fund some of the studies since THEY see there is a profit to be made. This feeds right into my rant/blog from last week Staying Fit Over 50/Stop Lying To People To Make A Buck You Heartless Hack This really has me confused 1900’s cold therapy is witchcraft or quackery, 2019 cold therapy holds a mountain of health benefits. It’s amazing how things change when money is involved.
I for one have started paying much more attention to the way things were done by our ancestors, if history is correct we were a much healthier people throughout our lifespan than we are now. Obviously our ancestors knew something we don’t and THEY don’t want us to know.
So what do you do if you don’t have the last name Trump, Bezos, Buffet or any of the other one percenters? Or maybe you live in Montuckey and the closest thing you have to a cryo chamber is the freezer full of Elk, Deer and the occasional Possum? Well gatha round children n listen close. Big Daddy’s fixin to let y’all in on a little secret THEY don’t want me talkin bout. You aint gots ta have non of that there fancy stuff, alls ya need is cold air or cold water (I believe this is how the 1% hears us if and when they hear us at all). Lucky for me I have access to both. Yes I live where the air hurts my face and proud of it. I will admit though it’s not quite as painful as it used to be thanks to the cold showers.
So now that you have a little of the cryotherapy back story let’s see what all the hubbub is about. A great man once said “it’s NOT, what you can do for a cold showa, BUT what a cold showa could do for you.” I’m pretty sure that’s how that went.
This one is almost self explanatory. We all know what jumping into a cold pool or lake feels like, I bet you just shivered thinking about it. It can be an awful feeling making us gulp for air as the cold shocks our body. This shock to our body increases overall oxygen intake and increases our heart rate as we struggle to get warm. With these increases blood is released and rushed throughout the body making us warm, waking our sorry butts up so we are ready to face the day.
We all know the effects that hot and cold temperatures have on things. Who could forget the hilarious quote from Seinfeld’s George Costanza “I was in the pool, I was in the pool.” Let’s just say heat expands cold contracts like a turtle into his shell. The same holds true with your pores. I myself don’t just jump into ice cold water, I’m more of a Bond James Bond type of guy. I start with a nice warm shower to open the pores as I lather, rinse and repeat, then I start turning the temp down over the next couple of minutes to reap the benefits of pore sealing such as sealing in moisture and keeping out dirt. I probably spend five minutes in warm and five in cold. Then before I get out of the shower I make sure no one is around or I too would be yelling “I was in the pool, I was in the pool.” Another tip for you guys out there, it also helps with hair loss by keeping the follicles flat and increasing their grip to the scalp. You are welcome.
Ok peeps here is something I just learned when I was researching cold therapy. The human body has two kinds of fat, white and brown. White fat is that nasty s%^t that we pack on because those super nachos and microbrew looked way too good. It’s also the hardest to lose. Brown fat on the other hand is good fat and is activated to keep our bodies warm when we are exposed to cold temperatures. One study says that when taking a cold shower, brown fat is activated causing an increase in energy and calories burned to keep warm. Cold temperatures could increase brown fat by fifteen times the normal amount which can lead to a nine pound a year weight loss.
Look at this mighty (mighty dirty) Spartan. Seems like they might have been on to something. Okay men listen up, along with helping to keep the hair on your head it could also lead to increased testosterone levels as well, again you are welcome. How much of an increase is hard to say as every person is different. What is known though is that excess fat, stress, sleeplessness, a poor immune system and circulation are all things that lower testosterone and all things cold therapy can help with. Also heat on a mans nether regions even a small amount has an effect on the DNA, RNA and protein synthesis in the male testicles (yes that’s why they hang on the outside and hang even lower when hot). So therefore by using cold to reverse the adverse effects that lower testosterone levels could and should increase.
Are you one of those people that yells at oncoming traffic or the person in front of you? Are you constantly telling people or your kids that you have had it up to hear or you have one nerve left and they are getting on it. Well along with thinking WWJD maybe you need to train your nervous system. Cold showers can act like a oxidative stress and over time you will adapt. Put it this way, the first time you step into a cold shower you will think you entered the 6th circle of hell but after a month or so you will have the Zen, calmness and focus of a Tibetan monk. You can read a little more about it here if you are fluent in physician.
You all read that in Keanu’s voice didn’t you? To put it in easy terms to understand think of your cells as sponges and all of these teenie tiny spongeBob’s can and do get full of waste. When you expose the lymph vessels to hot and cold it squeezes or flushes out the stagnant fluid that may have accumulated in the vessels. It’s the expansion and contraction at work again to clean you out. When the lymphatic system is stagnant or plugged it can show up as infections, colds and joint issues. I go hot, I go cold, I stay flushed,healthy and clean. With a great big hug and kiss from me to you ( in the tune of Barney the dinosaurs I love you song, your singing it now aren’t you).
As I said earlier if you are an athlete you already know what an ice bath or cold shower can do for you. After a hard intense workout or event cold therapy is one of the best things you can do for your body to recover faster. Truth be told a cold shower doesn’t have the same benefits as the ice bath but it does run a close second and will help remove lactic acid and improve circulation.
Remember a few paragraphs ago I mentioned the effects of heat on the male teste? Well not only does heat mess with your DNA and RNA it acts as a male contraceptive. A study conducted at USCF proved that males who stopped taking a hot bath on a regular basis had a sperm count increase of 491%. So gentlemen and ladies if you are trying to conceive do yourselves a favor and keep the little guys nice and cool and a good way to do that is by taking a cold shower. Here is a bonus tip for ya as long as your in the shower make sure you using organic products. Products with phthalate may may you feel smooth as silk but they are killing your swimmers.
Along with Mr. Whiskers cold showers have been shown to relieve the symptoms of depression. Unlike Mr. Whiskers the cold shower does it by the intense impact it has on the cold receptors in the skin. This impact sends a very large amount of electrical impulses from the peripheral nerve endings to the brain producing an antidepressant effect.
Although there are many benefits to cold therapy there are some people who should avoid it as it could have an adverse effect. You should not take a cold shower if -
Using cold therapy if you have any of these conditions could not only be detrimental but life threatening. So please use caution.
So after reading all of that you may be saying to yourself ok, ok nutcase here researched this so called cold therapy and it sounds good and all but what has it actually done for him.
I really can’t speak to the internal benefits as of yet because I haven’t been doing it long enough but all the externals appear to have some basis in fact. As the Spartans claimed it hardens the body. What I used to find cold doesn’t bother me much. I regularly walk to work in sub zero temps with not much more on than a sweatshirt and vest.
A morning person I am not. Multiple cups of coffee and by 10:00 am I may still not have full cognitive function. But when I take a cold shower first thing, by the time I step out I’m wide awake and feeling pretty spry.
Another benefit I’ve had is relief from muscle soreness. It’s a rare morning I don’t wake up pretty stiff and sore either from a hard workout the night before or just because I’m getting old. Again by the time I get out to towel off 90% of my soreness is gone.
So with just these few benefits alone it’s enough for me to want to keep experimenting with cold showers. Maybe I’ll check back in with you a few months down the road as a side note in another article to see if I’ve noticed any other changes or benefits.
Let me know what you think in the comments below. Does this sound like something you would try? I would love to hear your thought and opinions . Also let me know if you have any topics you would like discussed?
I hope this stirred up some questions that you would like to talk about or debate. Don’t be shy, if you would like to debate something I would be more than happy to talk to you about whatever it is. As long as it is in a mature reasonable nature and will listen and value your opinion even though I may not agree. Please give me a like, give me a share , sign up for my email list so you won’t miss a post but most important be an active participant in becoming a healthier you. I’m here to help if I can.
Life is a one time offer, use it well,