Cold showers are something I’ve been trying to incorporate into my routine for a while. Because it’s summer, I thought it would be a good time to give it another try.

If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find that there are many benefits to taking cold showers, including:

  • Increased vitality
  • Decreased muscle soreness
  • Stress management
  • Enhanced weight loss

I think I read a James Bond novel that described the famed spy getting up in the morning and starting each day with an ice-cold shower. It purportedly increased his alertness, which would be necessary for someone who is trying to achieve situational awareness.

I may not be worried about Goldfinger or Dr. No, but I would still like to reap the benefits of taking a cold shower. However, the endeavor continues to be more or less out of my reach.

I’ve found that the water temperature in my shower doesn’t go much below seventy degrees in the summertime. And that’s the upper limit (and then some) for true hydrotherapy. But, for me, a temperature of eighty degrees is pleasant and even preferable to a hot shower, at times. Seventy-five degrees, surprisingly, starts to get a little uncomfortable. More so than I’d like to admit, considering I’ve been in rivers whose temps are in the fifty’s. Granted, I was wearing a wet suit during those times.

How do you get the temperature down? (I’m not sure it’s worth asking if you get used to it.) I started by progressively decreasing the temperature of the water in my shower after a workout (when my body tends to be most overheated). This turned out to be a pretty effective strategy because starting with cold water was something I found myself resisting.

What I learned was that when it comes down to it, I’m not sure I need to torture myself with a freezing shower from start to finish. After all, there are benefits to a hot shower, as well. The heat can also help decrease muscle soreness.

I’m still going to work at it, but I think I’ve found a happy medium. When I’m already warm (e.g., after a run on a hot day), a cold shower could be beneficial. But when it’s cold out, and I’m sore after hitting the gym, a hot shower or bath might also do me some good.

Of course, if I become an international spy, this could be a problem.

photo: Andrew Neel