Hot Showers vs. Cold Showers: Part 1
When you think of the perfect shower, what do you think of? Is it hot and steamy? Or, is it cool and invigorating? Maybe your perfect shower is different depending on the situation because, you know, both hot showers and cold showers have their place—and their own health benefits.
Benefits of hot showers
It might not be that surprising to learn that a steaming hot shower has all sorts of benefits for your body and mind. Here are just a few.
We don’t need science to tell us how relaxing a hot shower can be, do we? The science does back it up, though. As the hot water pounds down, our muscles relax, our minds go to a happier place, and whole-body tension is erased.
Skin and hair
While a super-long, super-hot shower will dry out your skin and hair terribly, a briefer and not-too-hot shower will open the pores and the hair shaft. Dirt, excess oil and toxins are more easily washed out of open pores and cuticles. This is also a good time to use body scrubs, apply deep conditioners and slather your skin with moisturizers so that they really penetrate deeply.
Everyone knows you’re supposed to use hot (or at least warm) water to wash your hands, right? So, if you want to kill more germs on the skin all over your body, then hot water is the way to go.
Again, hot water = relaxation. But here’s what makes a hot shower even better before bedtime: stepping out of that hot water into the relative coolness of your home drops your body temperature, which is a natural signal that tells your body it’s time to sleep.
Breathing and congestion
When you really get that shower hot and steamy, you don’t even have to step under the spray to find relief from symptoms of congestion. Just close yourself up in the bathroom and breathe in the steam to moisten nasal passages, thin out mucus, clear your sinuses and even loosen chest congestion. Be sure to blow your nose afterwards to clear out the mucus and cough a couple of times to dislodge phlegm.
From what we understand about the typical migraine, pain is often caused by a narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the brain with blood and oxygen. Hot water pounding down on your head, neck and shoulders helps open these blood vessels and reduce the pressure we feel in our head.
Pain and inflammation
Here is perhaps where we find the biggest benefits of hot showers. Heat, and particularly moist heat, is widely used to relax the muscles, ease aches and pains and reduce inflammation. That’s because the heat increases blood flow, making joints and muscles more flexible and preventing the buildup of fluid in our tissues.