Getting Stronger: Discussion Forum

Discussion Topics => Hormesis => Topic started by: jared33 on March 14, 2010, 12:46:26 PM

Title: Cold showers
Post by: jared33 on March 14, 2010, 12:46:26 PM
I like the new post on cold showers.  When I lived in Maine, I would swim in the ocean, which everyone thought was crazy.  But I definitely got used to it and built up a tolerance for it.  I have occasionally taken cold showers after running or other exercise, but never as a regular thing.  So I think I will try this and report back.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: MallyHen on March 16, 2010, 07:41:02 PM
I've been taking the cold showers for three days now.  I have to say it really was quite uncomfortable at first, so I backed off a little  and started with lukewarm water, then turned it down cold for the last 30 seconds or so.  I used to do this when I had longer hair to help keep the shine on.  Yesterday, I managed to start up on cool water and it wasn't so bad. I think I lasted about 3 minutes. And today it was amazing, I only felt a brief discomfort, and then I started actually getting a warm feeling.  It was really nice especially getting out of the shower (I made sure to have the bathroom warmed up).  It does definitely improve my mood in the morning. I don't know about long term effects, but I like this and think I will continue this.  

I'd be interested to hear what others are finding.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: jared33 on March 22, 2010, 07:25:40 PM
I've been taking the cold showers for a week now.  They're great.  At first, a little uncomfortable.  But you get used to it after a few days.  Every day I'm about to get in the shower, I shudder a little thinking 'Do I really want to do this? Wouldn't a warm shower feel nice'?  Especially given the cold weather last week.  But one minute into the shower and you get past it and you feel so awake.

I noticed something quite interesting yesterday and again today. When I started out, I was breathing very hard and fast for the first minutes and my heart starting pounding faster and this was involuntary.  But when I got in yesterday, even though it was definitely cold, I kept my normal breathing rate and the cold water didn't make me hyperventilate.  So I must be adapting to it.   It also gives me more overall calmness and I seem to take the day more in stride.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: MallyHen on April 07, 2010, 08:54:05 PM
Jared33, that is an interesting observation about your breathing. I am noticing the same thing myself, I don't squirm and hyperventilate like I used to when I first started this. Even though I still dread the first few seconds, I stiffen myself and plunge in stoically and I keep my breathing normal.  I just pretend it doesn't bother me and that seems to work.  I even deliberately keep exposing my shoulders, arms and head to the cold water, because those are my most sensitive parts.  But now this really doesn't bother me, and I very much enjoy the last half of the shower.

I used to have a little depression, and this has totally cured that.  I would say if anything the cold showers have made me a bit more giddy and lighthearted.  I can't explain why this is, but it is.  Also, I've been checking on the Internet and there seems to be a real surge of interest in cold showers lately.  I'm wondering why this has become interesting to so many people recently, and it seems to be all over the world.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Moonbeam on April 25, 2010, 05:35:38 PM
I tried this... :o. 

Wow, that is really hard to do.  That is like the most intensely uncomfortable non-dangerous thing I can imagine. 

Just now as I typed this I suddenly remembered as a kid the showers to get into the swimming pool were ice-cold, and you had to go thru them to get to the pool.  Sometimes I would try to run on the very edge and not get very wet, other times we would see who could stand it the longest, and yes, it was very exhilarating; I had forgotten about that.

I'll try to remember that next time I do it.  I haven't had the nerve again yet.  It's weird how something that you know can't hurt you is so hard to do.  (For me anyway.)
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: MallyHen on May 07, 2010, 11:57:36 AM
I tried this... :o.  

Wow, that is really hard to do.  That is like the most intensely uncomfortable non-dangerous thing I can imagine.  

Just now as I typed this I suddenly remembered as a kid the showers to get into the swimming pool were ice-cold, and you had to go thru them to get to the pool.  Sometimes I would try to run on the very edge and not get very wet, other times we would see who could stand it the longest, and yes, it was very exhilarating; I had forgotten about that.

I'll try to remember that next time I do it.  I haven't had the nerve again yet.  It's weird how something that you know can't hurt you is so hard to do.  (For me anyway.)

Moonbeam, yes it is very hard the first few times.  But like jared33 and I have found, it gets easier with time. I will never go back to warm showers.

I just read Todd's latest post on his blog about the opponent-process theory and it makes total sense.  I think it explains why the cold showers get easier with time and why it is important to force yourself to get cold over all parts of your body and stay in for long enough.  Don't hold back, just tense yourself and go for it as long as you can stand it.  Cold showers don't do much for you if you only do it once or twice, you have to keep it up for a few weeks.  You can take an occasional warm shower if you want, but then the next cold shower will be a little harder. So I take just cold showers, even if the weather outside is cold and rainy.

Believe me, as I said above this cured my depression without taking any antidepressants.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Moonbeam on May 20, 2010, 07:01:12 PM
Moonbeam, yes it is very hard the first few times.  But like jared33 and I have found, it gets easier with time. I will never go back to warm showers.

OK.  I may get the courage to try again at some point.

Quote
I just read Todd's latest post on his blog about the opponent-process theory and it makes total sense.  I think it explains why the cold showers get easier with time and why it is important to force yourself to get cold over all parts of your body and stay in for long enough.  Don't hold back, just tense yourself and go for it as long as you can stand it.  Cold showers don't do much for you if you only do it once or twice, you have to keep it up for a few weeks.  You can take an occasional warm shower if you want, but then the next cold shower will be a little harder. So I take just cold showers, even if the weather outside is cold and rainy.

I need to read that.

Quote
Believe me, as I said above this cured my depression without taking any antidepressants.

That is excellent. 
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: IndianVeganGirl on September 06, 2010, 09:40:12 PM
I was wondering if instead of cold showers, can we walk barefoot at home? Since the floor is cold, I suppose it should have the same effect as a cold shower and lead to weight loss?
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: IndianVeganGirl on September 06, 2010, 11:20:07 PM
OK, I looked around on the net and found this:

http://www.losethattyre.co.uk/does-putting-your-feet-in-cold-water-help-with-weight-loss/

http://www.articlesbase.com/health-articles/cold-water-treading-a-secret-to-faster-weight-loss-1172787.html

Am going to walk bare-foot around my home henceforth...
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Patrea on December 13, 2010, 04:38:02 AM
I've found cold helps sleeplessness and insomnia - this was interesting http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2010/12/06/four-hour-body-review/ and "Try upping your saturated fat or using cold exposure.

A cold bath/ shower last thing at night aids sleep i find, and also tops up the overall hormesis effect, which is a bonus. About 2 minutes in a cold bath works for me.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: SUGARDUDE on December 16, 2010, 01:10:34 PM
There was a story on the news last night about a guy who lost a ton of weight due to taking baths in ice cold water.

I think I'm gonna give this cold shower thing a try.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: SUGARDUDE on December 27, 2010, 10:41:59 AM
I made my first honest attempt to take a cold shower this morning.  It is much more difficult than it sounds.  I could not just jump straight in and immerse myself.  I started by letting the water build up in the tub so my feet got covered. I never did make it in all all the way but I did put my head under while bending over. 

Although I had read about the rapid breathing and other involuntary responses, I was surprised to actually be experiencing them.

Tomorrow I'll try to increase my exposure.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: SUGARDUDE on December 28, 2010, 10:16:27 AM
I had to try a new approach today otherwise i just wouldn't get very clean.  I started with the cold water on the feet again but I couldn't bring myself to do the shower again so I did a regular warm shower and then gradually decreased the temperature of the water until it was freezing cold.  I was able to tolerate the water for a longer period this way.

It felt like cheating but so what.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: SUGARDUDE on January 02, 2011, 08:22:25 AM
I'm up to about 4-5 minutes now.  I'm also putting an ice pack on the back of my neck for 30 minutes each night as recommended in this book by Tim Ferris: http://fourhourbody.com/

Here's a link to the site for the guy I saw on the news. http://hypothermics.com/home/
His self experimentation is discussed in the ferris book.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Todd Becker on January 02, 2011, 01:39:18 PM
I'm up to about 4-5 minutes now.  I'm also putting an ice pack on the back of my neck for 30 minutes each night as recommended in this book by Tim Ferris: http://fourhourbody.com/

Here's a link to the site for the guy I saw on the news. http://hypothermics.com/home/
His self experimentation is discussed in the ferris book.

Wow!  I have to say I'm really proud of you, Sugardude.  To go from putting your feet in lukewarm water to taking a full-on 4-5 minute cold shower within a week is quite impressive.  

I've read Tim Ferris' account of ice baths and cold showers in his book 4HB, and it is quite intriguing. He was put on to this by Ray Cronise, a NASA researcher who wanted to understand how the Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps could stay so lean and eat 12,000 calories a day.  Cronise analyzed the thermodynamics of Phelps' energy balance and concluded that this was due to the rapid heat loss during swimming.  Cold water is an extremely efficient heat transfer agent, compared to exercise "in air" like running.  Tim Ferris did some self-experimentation showing that he could improve weight loss with ice packs and ice baths.  But he realized the benefit could not just be explained by heat transfer, because the amount of heat lost during 20-30 minutes is trivial.  Tim's hypothesis is that the mechanism by which cold activates heat loss is mediated by the hormone adiponectin, which stimulates the growth of BAT (brown adipose tissue, sometimes called "brown fat") which is totally different metabolically than the "white fat" which makes up most of the fat on our body.  The white fat is efficient at storing energy -- the brown fat, by contrast, derives directly from muscle tissue and is an efficient "fat burning" tissue that produces ATP and dissipates excess calories as heat.  

This explains both the warm feeling that cold showers cause and their efficacy in jump starting weight loss.

I've lost quite a bit of fat and gained significant muscle mass and definition since I started cold showers, so concur with Tim's observations and his theory makes a lot of sense to me.  I plan to look into this some more.

I've corresponded with Seth Roberts (here (http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2010/11/27/cold-showers-raise-mood/) and here (http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2010/12/21/cold-shower-report-2/)) about cold showers recently, and he is not convinced, claiming that cold showers caused him to gain weight.  I respect and admire Seth tremendously, but I'm concerned that his conclusions are not fully warranted.  I think his showers may not have been sufficiently cold or long, and I think that the 2 pound gain he reported is "noise".

There are too many independent studies and reports connecting cold water therapy to thermogenesis and weight loss to ignore the connection. What is as yet unclear to me is the physiological basis for the weight loss effect.  I think that Tim Ferris' theory is worth exploring.

Todd
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: SUGARDUDE on January 03, 2011, 02:06:10 PM
Thanks Todd.

I haven't noticed any appreciable difference in my weight loss results as of yet but I'm just starting out. It's NOT causing me to gain weight.  I'm going to try the protocol from the book so as to lessen the time I spend in hot water prior to going cold.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: SUGARDUDE on January 10, 2011, 10:24:53 AM
 I did a 10 minute cold shower today.  It was much easier than I thought it would be.

I feel great.

I'm now subscribing to the thermodynamic paradigm introduced by Ray Cronise and Tim Ferris in the "Four Hour Body".  In addition to the cold showers I'll be swimming in a cold pool for about 30 minutes and placing an ice pack on the back of my neck for 30 minutes at night.

Wish me luck.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Todd Becker on January 10, 2011, 02:33:56 PM
Ten minutes!!  I'm not even up to that yet!
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: SUGARDUDE on January 11, 2011, 01:26:58 PM
Yeah.   I did it again today but it's too damn cold to jump in the pool yet.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Sonia on January 15, 2011, 04:43:13 AM
Todd, thanks for your advices.
What you recommand for the cold showers (jumping right in, trying to stay at least 5mns under the cold water) is indeed a totally different experience from what I was doing (scrubbing with a scrub glove before the shower, and just pourring the water with a cup, going real fast...), which was a very soft version.
The first real shower was difficult and I couldn't stay more than 3 minutes.
The second one, surprisingly, was already easier, and I was able to stay 5 minutes!
It's only at the 4th one that I was able to wash my hair in the same time (I could only wash it seperately before).

After the first shower, I really wondered whether I could do it again, or want to do it again...
I can't believe I'm still doing it and enjoying it!
I'm amazed at how fast the body can adapt. I get a little bit of a shiver after a few minutes (it comes later and later), but I notice I can control it mentally.
Also, my skinny hands and feet don't stay that cold afterwards.

After the initial warm feeling, I can feel a little cool if I don't move around.
So a hot fresh ginger tea with spices and herbs fixes that right away, and I really feel great.

It's a very powerful experience. Thanks again.


Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Patrea on January 21, 2011, 10:31:06 AM
Another bonus for cold baths/ showers/ sea dip is in helping sleep. Insomnia is a big issue for me. There is literature on lowering your body temperature to assist sleep. I take a cold bath immediately before bed (2 mins) and it works well.
So you get your dose of hormesis and a good night's sleep in one...
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Alcibiades on January 24, 2011, 09:10:37 AM
Delurking after months (for some bizarre reason the entire domain became inaccessible, no idea why) to drop this here:

http://www.freezeawayfat.com/science_behind_cool_shapes/Fat%20Loss%20in%20the%20Cold.pdf

"Cold exposure led to a reduction of skinfold thicknesses and an increase of body density...with a loss of body fat...and a 1.5-kg increase of lean body mass. However, no significant changes of body composition occurred with comparable exercise under temperate conditions."

As an idle thought: could long-term cold environmental hormesis, as it were, be responsible for differences between Mediterranean and Nordic types? I'm thinking here of how Romans (Tacitus, I *think*) noted that the northern tribes - proto-Germans - were much heavier and larger, on average, than their southern, warmer-climatey counterparts. You tend to get a bit stuck on classical examples after a while I'm afraid.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: SUGARDUDE on January 29, 2011, 06:43:42 PM
I'm still doing cold showers not so much for weight loss but because of just the mental sharpness and enegry that results.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: buffetjunkie on February 12, 2011, 06:00:46 PM
I've done the cold showers for a week, and I have 2 questions:

1) How much cold exposure is too much?  Amazingly today I got to a point where I thought I could probably keep going.  Not saying that it was pleasant at that point!

2) I've noticed that when I start shivering, it helps me to adjust to the cold if I exaggerate the shiver.  Is exaggerating the shiver, good, bad, or neutral?
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Todd Becker on February 14, 2011, 07:48:27 PM
buffetjunkie,

If you get to the point where you are experience actual pain -- headaches, muscle cramps -- or have abnormal heart rate or breathing, then stop.  Stop if your extremities become numb or difficult to move.  Otherwise, if it is just uncomfortable, unpleasant and your heart rate is within the range of strenuous exercise, that's normal.  I think that most of the benefit comes after the first 3 minutes so I try to aim for at least 5, ideally going to 7 minutes.  I also keep rotating to expose all my most sensitive parts, which in my case include my neck, shoulders, hands, the top of my head, and my chest.

I think your idea of exaggerating the shiver is an excellent idea.  That should help the thermogenesis as well as making the cold more tolerable.  Most likely, you'll find the need to do that will diminish with time and experience. Another approach I use, especially at the beginning, is to grit my teeth and stiffen myself to the cold.  I also find that laughing or singing helps.  I think these are all forms of "compensating" that are quite helpful.

Todd

Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Steph on February 18, 2011, 01:46:17 PM
Well, I'm hooked!  Second morning of cold showers, and it really makes me feel terrific.

I'm not near five minutes, though - more like one and a half.  Perhaps I can build up - I'd like to, as I really like the after effect and would love for it to last longer.

I'm finding it's easier if I act as though I'm luxuriating in the cold water - it seems to blunt the psychological and physical discomfort a bit.  And at the minute mark, I almost believe it!
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Steph on February 18, 2011, 01:47:22 PM
I should add, I also think I'm able to do this (short) cold shower because I still have a hot shower at night.  The idea of replacing a hot shower with a cold one was too hard for me.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Todd Becker on February 19, 2011, 09:40:00 AM
Steph,

That's great to hear you are able to go even for 1-2 minutes.  That's a very good start.  And I agree with all of your other suggestions: gradually building up to longer times (which will lead to a sustained afterglow), using psychological devices to blunt the discomfort, and "rewarding" yourself by alternating with hot showers.  I also find that psyching myself up is important -- I remind myself that I'll feel great for much longer than the short discomfort, and I focus on the pride and elation I feel in being able to go longer and colder.  I also remind myself that I've had zero colds or flus since starting cold showers, and it seems to provide enhanced immunity even during the lousy winter weather.

I do also take warm showers or hot tubs. I do enjoy these, but am careful not to do this too often.  It's kind of like an occasional "cheat" on a diet, and I think it is psychologically necessary. And it fits with the concept of "intermittency" which is central to Hormetism.  But there is a cost to doing it too often because I find that it sets back my cold tolerance.  So I try to keep hot showers or baths to no more than once a week, at times I can enjoy them.  You might gradually try reducing the frequency of your hot showers to once every 2 or 3 days to see if that provides a reasonable balance that allows you to progress in your cold tolerance, while allowing you the pleasure of hot showers.

Todd
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: UrsusMinor on February 20, 2011, 01:02:09 PM
My experience with heat is quite different from yours, as I describe on a neighboring post

 http://forum.gettingstronger.org/index.php/topic,64.msg687.html#msg687 (http://forum.gettingstronger.org/index.php/topic,64.msg687.html#msg687).

I generally find that increasing heat tolerance increases my cold tolerance, and vice-versa.

Both cold plunging and sweat lodging are common around the world in one form or another. I've never really seen evidence that one is beneficial and the other detrimental, or that intense heat makes one fatter.

Intense heat is just as demanding in terms of bodily adaptation as cold, I think, although it provokes a different set of responses. But both are stressful, and both demand major shifts.

"Warm" may not do the trick, but I think hot is as challenging as cold.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: UrsusMinor on February 20, 2011, 01:09:01 PM
Slightly off-topic, but not too far. I practice hot yoga, either CorePower Yoga:

http://corepoweryoga.com/YogaforBeginners/ClassDescriptions.aspx (http://corepoweryoga.com/YogaforBeginners/ClassDescriptions.aspx)

or Bikram Yoga:

http://www.bikramyoga.com/ (http://www.bikramyoga.com/)

Either of them make it very easy to jump into a cold shower, cold pool, or the ocean after a class.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Patrea on April 14, 2011, 01:59:33 AM
Yes hot is as challenging as cold - it is the stressor that matters. Ideally to the point of pronounced discomfort - not actual pain.
Interesting for me is the mental side too, the challenge each time.

Weight loss is about diet, so I would not expect progress in that area
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: shadowfoot on April 14, 2011, 04:10:12 AM
Patrea,

I agree with you about the mental challenge. I have been taking cold showers almost every day for close to eight months now and I still have to mentally prepare myself every time.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: costello on November 08, 2011, 09:23:01 AM
I read shadowfoot's post about still having to mentally prepare every day after 8 months of cold showers, and it worried me a little. I wanted to say, though, that I've been taking cold showers every morning for 2 or 3 weeks now and I'm finding it much easier. Occasionally I still hesitate a bit, but most mornings I just jump in there and do it. I guess I don't think about it too hard. That helps. I've also noticed I grab my wash cloth and hold it in front of me as I step under the water. As if that's going to help!   ;D

I don't know if it's getting easier, because I'm adjusting to the cold water more quickly or because I have enough experience now to know the first few seconds are the worst. You just have to wait it out.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Todd Becker on November 08, 2011, 10:47:16 AM
I read shadowfoot's post about still having to mentally prepare every day after 8 months of cold showers, and it worried me a little. I wanted to say, though, that I've been taking cold showers every morning for 2 or 3 weeks now and I'm finding it much easier. Occasionally I still hesitate a bit, but most mornings I just jump in there and do it. I guess I don't think about it too hard. That helps. I've also noticed I grab my wash cloth and hold it in front of me as I step under the water. As if that's going to help!   ;D

I don't know if it's getting easier, because I'm adjusting to the cold water more quickly or because I have enough experience now to know the first few seconds are the worst. You just have to wait it out.

Hi Costello,

I'll chip in here that even after more than a year of cold showers, I still hesitate slightly befor stepping in, but I always tell myself to remember how good I always feel by the end of the shower. It's a bit like getting ready to pull off a Band-Aid, but actually better in that there is actually a good feeling after the cold shower, rather than a mere forgetting of the brief Band-Aid pulling pain.  

Now that we're heading into winter, my pre-shower hesitation is more pronounced, especially on cold, dark mornings. Sometimes I ask myself: "Are you sure you want to do this?"  But remarkably the post-shower afterglow and energizing effect is even better than usual!!  I think that is good confirmation of the opponent process theory.  I'd be interested to know if you or anyone else have had a similar reaction.

Todd
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: costello on November 15, 2011, 12:35:50 PM
I'm getting a little more nervous about the showers as colder weather approaches. As I said, I have no furnace and on really cold nights it's likely to get down in the 30's in my house. I assume that means some very cold showers ahead. How cold is too cold?

I've timed my showers at about 4 minutes. This morning I decided to push that a bit and stayed under the water somewhere between 5 and 6 minutes. It really is amazing how the water starts to feel ok as the shower progresses. The first couple of times it happened I thought the water had become warmer, but then I'd turn and hit my ear or hands and realized that it was still as cold as ever. That extra minute this morning was effortless. I was more concerned about wasting water than being too cold.   :P
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: costello on November 16, 2011, 06:46:21 AM
This morning's shower was 8 or 9 minutes long - forgot to check the time until I'd been under the water a little while. I washed my hair so it took longer. I usually only wash my hair every 5 to 7 days, so I miss out getting my whole head wet daily. I'll probably start washing it more frequently, but I have very long hair, so it's 1) a hassle and 2) hard on the hair to be exposed to soaps more frequently. Getting the whole head wet is definitely more intense.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Nino on November 18, 2011, 01:21:10 PM
I've experimented with cold showers twice a day, everyday for the past 2 months and have had some pretty interesting results.

1. My recovery time from intense workouts has shortened significantly. Before I started these showers I was running roughly 25 miles a week. Now I'm at 40 and have had fewer injuries and less muscle soreness than ever before. I've read some articles about cold showers increasing testosterone (which would account for the rapid recovery) but I haven't found any verifiable evidence of this.
       My Strength, size and definition have all increased noticeably as well

2. My body's ability to tolerate cold temperatures has also increased dramatically. Even with winter coming and making the water from my faucet near freezing, I still can stay in for roughly 15 miins before getting cold. Often times I have to chug Ice water prior to a shower to make it more time efficient. (At the beggining of this experiment I was only able to stand 5 minutes tops.)

3. I've noticed a strong increase in the amount of food I can eat without increasing my body fat %. I was already fairly skinny when I started this shower regement, but I've been able to increase my daily caloric intake by about 400 calories. (On top of what my workouts burn)

As someone who is very active, it has been a worthwhile endeavour. I've also noticed improvement in my sleep and energy levels.

On top of the cold showers I also make it a point to chug 500ml-1L of ice water twice a day. I've found that this invokes the same cold shock of a shower while slightly decreasing my apppetite. It also seems that the ritual of chugging ice water twice a day has a pyschological advantage of reminding me that I'm trying to stay in shape, and allows me to stay focused on having a healthy lunch or dinner.
(I usually chug ice water an hour prior to lunch, and an hour prior to dinner)

All in all, I highly reccomend it.

A question I want to pose to this discussion board is whether or not my increased tolerance for cold showers means it's affecting my metabolism less? I haven't physically noticed any differences that would illustrate such, but I'm curious if there's any science out there regarding cold tolerance.

Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Todd Becker on November 22, 2011, 10:50:53 AM
Nino,

These are very interesting findings!

I have a few thoughts in response:

1.  The reduction in muscle soreness and improved recovery could be due to induced testosterone, but it could also be explained by other factors.  One very simple and likely explanation is that cold water reduces inflammation, which is why cold compresses are often used by athletes.  There may be additional effects, and if could be a combination of factors.

2.  I've experienced the same cold tolerance effect that you describe.  The more cold exposure, the greater the tolerance.  There is evidence that cold exposure increases adiponectin levels and stimulates the growth of brown fat (BAT), which helps with thermoregulation and cold tolerance.  [See the earlier discussion in this post (http://forum.gettingstronger.org/index.php/topic,9.msg501.html#msg501)]. Other explanatory factors could be neurological adaptation (receptor and neurotransmitter rebalancing) along the lines of the opponent-process theory of emotional/sensory adaptation.  Without controlled experiments, its hard to know the relative importance of these different potential causal explanations.  But we can at least acknowledge that tolerizing adaptation to cold does occur, even if we can't say for sure what drives it.

3.  The ice water chugging idea is something that Tim Ferriss advocates in the Four-Hour-Body.  (Perhaps that inspired you to try it?).  I haven't tried that myself yet -- perhaps I'll try.  I do drink quite a bit of water, either as plain water or in dilute herb teas, but it is generally room temperature, warm or hot.  I'm wondering whether the appetite suppressing effect you experience requires that the water be quickly chugged down -- or whether you could sip it over 5 or 10 minutes and get a similar effect.   I'm a bit hesitant to do a lot of rapid chugging, unless that is important.

Thanks,

Todd
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Nino on November 23, 2011, 11:25:52 AM
Thanks Todd,

I assumed that it was probably a mixture of factors from the cold showers that contributed to a reduction in my recovery time.

I did learn about ice water chugging from the 4 Hour Body, since I drink a lot of water throughout the day as well, I figured I'd experiment with only drinking ice water.

To expand on my experience so far, ice water chugging has induced the same cold feeling as cold showers (without the necessity of getting in a shower) If I chug 500ml-1L of Ice water while I'm sitting at my desk at work, after 3-5 mins I'll start to shiver and the same refreshing cold feeling I get from showers will last anywhere from 20-90mins.

However I believe ice water chugging  is less effective than cold showers in some cases becuase if you're body temperature is even slightly warmer than normal (whether from physical exertion or being in a warm enviroment) it's much more difficult to induce shivering. The room temperature at my office is roughly 68-70F so its pretty cool.

For maximum cold effect, I recommend chugging as quickly as possible. As far as supressing your appetite, I've found slowly sipping ice water just effective as chugging it.  (I also reccomend not chugging ice water after large meals and only after smaller ones. The simple reason is that with all that food in your stomach you'll feel like a blimp after drinking all that water.)

Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Torvald on September 22, 2013, 03:09:01 PM
Here's my cold-shower report:

I started taking cold showers on August 16 (about five weeks ago). I'm thin and have always disliked cold.

On the first day, I hyperventilated for the first minute or so. I was amazed that I had no power to control my breathing. I'd read that people drown not because they're bad swimmers but because cold shock triggers involuntary deep inhalation, and this brings water into the lungs. Well, now I *know* what that's about!

Once I was breathing normally, I washed my hair as quickly as possible and got out of there. I felt pretty invigorated for the next hour or so. I hoped that this was an "opponent process", and that future showers would make this invigoration period last progressively longer.

For the first few days, I kept my showers very short. Then I noticed that after a few minutes, the water felt *almost* warm. Hooray, thermogenesis! After that, I've usually gone about ten minutes, feeling no need to hurry.

Somewhat disappointingly, after those first couple showers, the invigoration after the shower has lasted for much less time, not more. I've even fallen asleep half an hour after the shower.

Various small things:

* I've only shivered on one day, about a week after starting. (I'm thin and normally shiver pretty easily.)

* While I haven't hyperventilated since the first day, I've found myself deep-breathing uncontrollably for the first 30 seconds or so each day.

* I haven't successfully measured the water temperature. (I tried putting a cooking thermometer into a cup of water from the shower, but I ended up convinced only that the thermometer was seriously miscalibrated.) I strongly suspect that it's warmer than the recommended 50ºF or 59ºF. The shower control mixes warm and cold water, and it's summer in the American Midwest.

* On a couple days, I went to the kitchen sink to pour some cold water to drink, put my hand under the faucet to sense when the water was cold enough, and found that it didn't feel cold to my hand even after I let it run a while. Without a thermometer, it's hard to say right now if that's because the water actually was warmer or my sensation of cold was shifted to lower temperatures.

* Even though I know full well that the water will feel fine after a couple minutes, I still feel a bodily revulsion before getting into the shower, which I have to overcome by willpower each time.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Todd Becker on September 23, 2013, 07:35:51 AM
Hi Torvald,

Thanks for posting on your experiments with cold showers.  Given that you are thin and are find the cold showers to be tough going, I would suggest using slightly water - something "lukewarm".   While many of us aim for water less than 60 degrees F, there is nothing magic about that.  Any water cold enough to cool the body will have some effect -- even at 70 or 80 degrees.   

It's better to find some balance that you can tolerate -- a balance between mild discomfort that induces thermogenesis and too severe a stress than you can't tolerate or that produces lingering ill effects.  On the other hand, the fact that the invigoration effect diminished over time suggests you are becoming adapted and could tolerate lower temperatures or longer times.   So I'd suggest experimenting with the water temperature and exposure time.

There is one observation of yours that I can't explain:  How cold showers could be making you sleepy.  This is exactly the opposite of what most people observe, namely that warm baths or shower promote drowsiness, while cold showers are like a strong cup of coffee.   If you find this effect continues, I'd like to hear more about it.

Good luck,

Todd
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Torvald on September 24, 2013, 05:01:09 AM
Sorry I wasn't clear: I mean that *despite* being thin and averse to cold, I seemed to adapt very quickly. First day: hyperventilation. Second day: this isn't so bad. Fourth day and on: cold water actually feels almost warm after a few minutes.

I found it an amazing demonstration of how quickly and easily hormesis produces dramatic results.

Another interesting observation: even after five weeks, even after knowing that the water will feel fine after a couple minutes, I still feel my body rebelling against taking a cold shower before getting in. It always takes some willpower to override this and do it.

The cold showers remind me a little of when I used to perform improvisational comedy. Before my first show, I was absolutely terrified. Second show: pretty nervous before the show. It always took an act of willpower to go on stage, even after lots of success. Over time, a pattern emerged: if I was nervous before a show, it would go well. If I wasn't nervous (or rather, only a little nervous), I wouldn't perform as well. That brief experience of discomfort (fear, cold, whatever) seems crucial to the process (as you've remarked elsewhere).
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Torvald on September 24, 2013, 05:10:55 AM
There is one observation of yours that I can't explain:  How cold showers could be making you sleepy.  This is exactly the opposite of what most people observe, namely that warm baths or shower promote drowsiness, while cold showers are like a strong cup of coffee.   If you find this effect continues, I'd like to hear more about it.

Oops, I was unclear about this, too. I don't think a cold shower has ever made me sleepy. I tend to get sleepy during the day a lot. After the first few cold showers, the "post-shower invigoration period" seemed to shorten quite a bit, to the point where even half an hour later, the sleepiness (of unknown cause) was able to kick in.
Title: Re: Cold showers
Post by: Torvald on October 07, 2013, 03:15:00 PM
Latest news on my cold-showering experiment: