Cold Water Therapy, or Cold Hydrotherapy, has been around for a very long time for the purpose of easing muscle fatigue and boosting recovery time from overheating. More recently, cold showers and ice baths are the most common forms of Cold Water Therapy, oftentimes used by athletes to aid their recovery process. Similarly though, it can be helpful for just about anyone to take cold showers as a way to stimulate the immune system on top of countering their muscle pain.
There are a few studies that have been done to test the impact of Cold Water Therapy on the immune system and the results show a lot of potential. One study done in 2014 tested whether or not participants could influence their body’s immune system response through cold water immersion or meditation. The results showed that indeed, people have the ability to alter their own immune system through mental or physical stimulation. When the participants were exposed to an infection, the group that practiced this kind of stimulation showed fewer symptoms as a result than the control group.
Exposing the body to cold water may seem like it would reduce its ability to fight infection, but it’s important to note that taking cold showers on a regular basis actually increases the body’s resistance to stress and therefore infection. The experience of a cold shower imposes a small amount of stress on the body that results from an unexpected, cold liquid touching the skin. While it may be uncomfortable at first, consistent exposure actually causes the body to become more resistant to the unexpected temperature, and thus allows a person to be less impacted by moderate levels of stress. Those who experience more stress on a daily basis or higher amounts of stress are able to become less affected by those stimuli after a long period of time under those conditions. The same goes for the immune system, and that’s how Cold Water Therapy is able to aid in the boosting of the body’s immune system response.