Water therapy is one of the world’s oldest known forms of therapy. This is because water has some soothing qualities, which can help loosen tense muscles and induce relaxation. However, its temperature can affect how beneficial it is to the human body. According to leading scientific studies, this article discusses how hot and cold water can affect your health.
Why You Should Take Cold Showers
While taking a cold bath may not be as pleasant as a hot bath, it still has distinct health benefits. According to a 2014 study, bathing in cold water can reduce muscle spasms, relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
An older study from the year 2000 looked at how different water temperatures affected people’s responses. Participants were immersed for 60 minutes in water at 57.2 degrees Fahrenheit (14 degrees Celsius) for the cold water condition. As a result, the subjects’ metabolisms sped up, their heart rates accelerated, their blood pressures rose, their levels of dopamine and norepinephrine grew, and their cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone,” fell.
On improved circulation, a study discovered that cold showers after physical exercise could greatly improve the body’s hydration by making the body go through a cooling process. Vessels in the body’s deeper tissues widen to accommodate the blood being redirected from the skin. With this, you can improve blood flow to your deeper tissues.
Another benefit of cold water is that it reduces muscle fatigue and soreness from participating in sports activities. One study from 2009 looked at how immersing athletes in cold water affected their performance. Some athletes were immersed in cold water after their games, while others were immersed in warm water.
Muscle damage, inflammation, and post-injury performance were the same for both groups.
However, the cold water immersion group reported much less muscular discomfort and general weariness. A positive psychological effect like this could give an edge in a sporting competition.
Why You Should Take Hot Showers
Some evidence shows that taking hot showers can benefit your health. There may be positive effects on one’s heart, muscles, and brain.
According to findings from a study on hydrotherapy published in 2014, taking a bath in warm water appears to increase blood flow in patients who have chronic heart failure. This occurs because the blood vessels expand in response to the body’s warmth.
A study that was conducted in 2012 investigated the effects of immersing oneself in warm water on arterial stiffness. Arterial stiffness is the condition in which the arteries found in the body become less fluid. The cardiovascular disease atherosclerosis, which can result in hypertension, is largely influenced by arterial stiffness. According to the study, participants who soaked their feet and lower legs in warm water for thirty minutes demonstrated decreased arterial stiffness. Without the warm water immersion, the subjects did not exhibit this effect.
As was previously noted, a warm shower can increase blood flow, relax tight muscles, and ease aching joints. Meanwhile, a cold shower might help reduce inflammation and dull pain.
Furthermore, one study looked into hot and cold treatments for osteoarthritis in the knee in 2017. Researchers created three groups consisting of 96 people. In a placebo group, patients were given the standard care for osteoarthritis—the study combined standard osteoarthritis care with cold or heat therapy for the other two groups.
Both the heat treatment group and the cold treatment group iced and heated their injured knees twice daily for three weeks.
Both groups saw mild improvements in pain and knee function at the end of the study. Though noticeable, these changes were not noticeably more powerful than those felt by the control group.