Hot vs. Cold Showers Health Benefits | The Ultimate Guide!

By
Mike Rosa
October 23, 2020


Some people take steaming hot showers but other people swear by the magical healing properties of ice cold showers. No matter how you like to shower, there are proven health benefits to both. Today we’re going to go over the different health benefits of both hot and cold showers! 

Muscle Effects

Hot Showers

Let’s start off with the effects on our muscles. Hot showers are great for relieving tension. So if your muscles are really sore or tight, hot showers help relax that tightness and alleviate pain and discomfort, just like the jets of a jacuzzi. 

In fact, if you know you have an intense workout later in the day and you wake up super stiff, a hot shower in the morning is a great way to help loosen up and rid yourself of those stubborn knots. 

Also, hot showers can help reduce joint inflammation, which can improve your mobility. Overall, if you are experiencing any form of tightness, pain, or discomfort, go take a hot shower. 

Cold Showers

Cold water can actually help speed up muscle recovery. So taking a cold shower right after a workout is a great idea. It’s been proven that they enhance muscle repair and recovery, which reduces delayed onset muscle soreness. 

Cold showers act like an ice pack— they reduce muscular swelling or inflammation. When we workout and break down those muscle fibers, they swell, and the coldness of the shower helps reduce that swelling, which speeds up the repair of the new muscle fibers for an overall quicker recovery.

In general, hot showers can be viewed as a pre-workout tension reliever and cold showers like a post-workout recovery.

If you’re not used to cold showers, you may have to build a little tolerance toward them by cycling between hot and cold. The hot shower will open the blood vessels then switching to cold increases circulation by the blood rushing toward the organs. 

This method will also help remove some of the lactic acid built up from exercise. However, if you use the cycling method, it is important to end with the cold shower. 

Skin/Hair Effects

Cold Showers

Cold water hydrates the skin. So if you’re someone experiencing discomfort from dry skin, a cold shower is a great fix. The more hydrated the skin, the healthier it will be. 

Also, cold showers will help close skin pores, which protects against dirt, unnatural oils, germs and other debris getting in them. The combination of the hydration and the pores getting closed is a solid method of preventing blackheads as well as other forms of acne. Overall, cold showers significantly strengthen and protect our skin cells. 

This process is also extremely beneficial for hair health, keeping your hair stronger, shinier and overall healthier. Cold showers can prevent the loss of natural hair oils, helping with split ends as well as increasing follicle grip to the scalp. This can help prevent hair loss, especially for men with receding hairlines.

Hot Showers

Hot showers help cleanse the skin like an exfoliator. The steam from the hot water does the opposite of cold showers and opens up the pores, which can rejuvenate the skin. This cleanse can help get rid of dead skin, dirt, and unnatural oils that have built up, which can help eliminate pimples and acne. 

Regarding the hair, hot water helps rejuvenate nerve endings for a fuller, healthier look. Now on the contrary, hot showers can lead directly to dry skin. If you’re someone who takes long hot showers to relax, you’re actually hurting your skin and hair health. 

If you like your hot showers, the best method to get the best benefits would be to start with the hot shower for the exfoliating and rejuvenating effects and end with the cold shower for the hydration and skin cell protection.


Immune System/Body Effects

Hot Showers

Hot showers are well known for their decongestant effects. The steam from the hot water relaxes and opens up the nasal passages, allowing the sinuses to drain out and unclog as well as loosen up phlegm. 

This is a great way to help eliminate sinus pressure, overall congestion, and coughing, thus relieving cold symptoms. Also, the steam from hot water opens up the lungs for better overall air flow, which can significantly help those who suffer from asthma to breathe easier. 


If you are someone who suffers from migraines, hot water opens up the blood vessels. Considering most headaches are caused by decreased blood flow, hot water can help bring blood to your head and ease your pain. 

Another property of hot water is that it makes your body sweat which helps rid itself of bad toxins. Also, the heat destroys germs and bacteria, which is a great method to prevent sickness. 

One last benefit of hot showers is they can actually help with healing. If you have a small wound that’s open, the hot water can enhance blood circulation to that specific area expediting the healing process. 

Cold Showers 

Cold showers have been proven to strengthen the immune system. Exposure to cold water results in increased lymphatic movement, ridding the body of large amounts of waste.

This can prevent infection, increase testosterone and even sperm cell count, clear blocked arteries, decrease blood pressure, increase the amount of white blood cells fighting against disease and improve heart health by the promotion of more efficient blood circulation. 

Therefore, if you’re healthy, cold showers are for you. If you’re sick or experiencing any symptoms of sickness, a hot shower may be more beneficial to you. 


Mental Health Effects

Cold Showers

If you’re someone who has a hard time waking up in the morning, take a cold shower. It is proven that cold showers significantly increase mental alertness and even reduce body fatigue. One fascinating effect of cold showers is they may relieve depression. 

Essentially, the shock of the cold water sends an electrical impulse to the brain, igniting the serotonin neurotransmitter as well as releasing noradrenalin, which regulates mood and alleviates depression. 

It’s also been proven that cold showers increase willpower and resilience, which positively affects the nervous system and can reduce stress. Along with that, cold showers result in an increase in uric acid and blood glutathione which lowers stress levels. 

This reduced stress can also treat insomnia. Taking a cold shower before bed has been proven to aid in deeper sleep by lowering body temperature. Also, cold showers have been shown to enhance deeper and slower breathing to control stress levels. 

Hot Showers

On the other hand, hot showers have been shown to stimulate the brain to release more oxytocin which significantly eases anxiety and can reduce stress as well. Hot showers have also been proven to act as a sedative to help induce sleep. The tension relief from hot showers results in a more optimal calming effect for the mind and body.


Weight Effects

Hot Showers

Hot showers have been shown to increase the body’s metabolism. A boost in metabolism helps promote weight loss. 

Cold Showers

Cold showers have also been shown to increase metabolism due to the body’s shock effect. However, cold showers can actually promote fat loss. 

There are two types of fat in the body: brown fat and white fat. Brown fat is the healthy fat that our bodies need for warmth. White fat is the stubborn fat that is stored when we consume more calories than we burn. 

Brown fat is actually more optimally activated by cold showers. This increases calories burned, which keeps your body warm and promotes the loss of white fat. 

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, hot and cold showers both have their health benefits. Overall, cold showers are more than likely the way to go if you are to choose just one. 

If you want to get benefits from both hot and cold showers, try a method of starting with 3 minutes of hot shower and end with 5 minutes of cold shower. You can also do the alternating back and forth method while ending with a cold shower. 

Lastly, there is no need to shower for a long period of time. Save some water and keep your showers to under 10 minutes! 

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