#10: The Cold Shower Challenge—Wake up to the power of cold

Mar 03, 2020
Can cold be good for you? In this episode we are putting an exciting idea to the test! You can join us in our 21 day challenge and see some of these AMAZING benefits.
Below are extensive notes on the benefits of cold therapy.
Cold Therapy, cold immersion, cold showers, ice baths, etc.(or frequent exposure to the cold) are linked to many physical and mental health benefits.
Here are a just a few we wanted to highlight:
  • Helps in Fat Loss : Cold showers (and general exposure to the cold) increase metabolic rate directly, and stimulate the generation of brown fat. (Here’s a great article with more links on Brown fat in general and how Cold Temps Boost Brown Fat Activation)
  • Boosts your Mood/Helps Fight Depression : One study found that “cold hydrotherapy can relieve depressive symptoms rather effectively.”
  • Quite Feeling so Cold All The Time: Human thermoregulatory responses to cold air are altered by repeated cold water immersion. “These findings suggest that repeated cold water immersion stimulates development of true cold acclimation in humans” (anecdotal of course, but one proponent of cold shower therapy said “One of the strangest experiences I’ve had after taking cold showers is experiencing temporary flushes of heat … even in winter!”)
  • Faster Recovery/Reduce Aches and Pains: A study analyzing 17 trials and 360 people found that cold therapy was much more effective in relieving sore muscles as compared to no cold water therapy. It can possibly also reduce pain and speed recovery by decreasing blood lactate concentration.
  • Help Increase Body’s Tolerance to Stress and Disease: Uric acid and glutathione levels during short-term whole body cold exposure “Drastic” decrease in uric acid levels (high levels are associated with gout, high blood pressure, kidney disease and people who are overweight. And an increase in glutathione. (your body’s most powerful antioxidant)
    • A 1993 study by the Thrombosis Research Institute in England (which I haven’t found a link to yet, but everyone and their dog cites this…) found that individuals who practice daily cold showering experienced an increase in white blood cells. (which are of course responsible for fighting off viruses.)
    • Cold Showers can help the develop a nervous system that is resilient to stress.
    • And a clinical trial in the Netherlands showed that people who took cold showers called out of work less often.
  • Better Skin and Hair: And because I didn’t dive deep into this one (but want to include some good articles… Here they be:
  • Alertness and General Well Being: Just about everyone who’s written, or tried the cold shower challenge can attest to the fight of flight alertness a cold shower has. But on a more medical note - Dr. Rhonda Patrick says that ice baths and showers increase the release of norepinephrine, a hormone that works to calm you down, to the blood. It also affects your mood, vigilance, focus, and attention.
If you really want to get into this, Wim Holf (aka “Iceman”) is the guru you’re looking for. He holds the world record for having his body submerged in ice (over 2 hours) while keeping his core body temperature steady. Summited mount Kilimanjaro in the snow in his shorts, and in multiple studies, proven that he was able to influence his autonomic nervous system, which was widely thought impossible before that.
I like his WHM (Wim Holf Method) as his combination of Cold Therapy, Breathing, & “Commitment” are things that all of us can do/learn. (with practice and determination of course;)
Here is a 40 min documentary on the “Iceman.” They claim the Wim Holf Method can help with all the regular benefits we talk about above to things dramatic as arthritis and fibromyalgia relief, to asthma management and migraine relief.
How to take the Cold Shower Challenge!
Here are 3 ways you can join in:
  1. All In Baby! - nothing but straight cold showers for a month. (I’m talking one small step up from an ice bath from start to finish)
  2. “Scottish” or “James Bond” Shower - Start warm/hot to soap and wash off, then go cold for 2-3+ minutes.
  3. Take it Eaassy! (In Nacho Libre voice) Just a regular shower, but finish the last 30 seconds to one minute cold. Come on folks EVERYONE can do this!
More great links:
Article:Cold Shocking the Body by Ph.D. Rhonda Patrick. Amazing, but somewhat lengthy article covering everything (and more) we talk about in this podcast.
Youtube: 30 Days of Cold Showers: Not What I Was Expecting: Good short video on the psychological aspects/effects and how to ease into cold showers. 6 mins. Watch this one. No science jargon, but It’ll resonate with anyone who hates the cold… It’s good.
Youtube: Ice Bath Science with Dr. Andy Galpin (Skip front and end and watch Dr. Andy Gaplin explain the benefits/science. 2:04 to 6:15
Youtube: The Benefits of Cold Showers | The Art of Manliness (geared to men, but a really well done, funny video with lots of science references to back it up)
TedTalk - Cold Shower Therapy: Joel Runyon (good Anecdote/personal story on choosing to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.) He’s also got a rather lengthy “Cold Shower Therapy Guide” and even an App: Cold Shower Therapy App or you can also get the the Wim Hof Method App (Google - iTunes)
Podcast: "The Iceman" : Wim Hof interview by Tim Ferris
Testimonial: Lessons from a year of Cold Showers (You're Not Cold, You're Tense.)


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