ANTI-AGING: Wanna Live Longer? Maybe Take a Cold Shower


This article is intended solely for informational purposes. It is not meant to be taken as, and should not be construed, as medical advice. Any changes to your lifestyle or diet should be done in consultation with your doctor or health care professional.

One thing I’ve learned in the past few years is that comfort kills.  The more pampered and comfortable we are, the more the aging process tends to creep up on us.

I was irked to learn this because I like being comfortable. But it’s been verified by a large number of research studies.

We live in homes that are kept warm and toasty. Not too hot… not too cold. This feels great, but stops our bodies and mitochondria from the challenge of adjusting to temperature changes.

There’s no need to adjust our temperature internally if we can do it with a thermostat. So our mitochondria get lazy. Why work if you don’t have to?

We have constant access to food. This keeps us well-nourished, which is great, but it also raises our glucose and insulin levels, and stops our bodies from producing human growth hormone, if we’re eating or snacking constantly.

We (or most of us) drive or call a ride service to get to other places instead of walking or running. So we lose muscle tone and strength as the years go by. 

The truth seems to be that the more comfortable we are, the faster our bodies decline. So I’ve learned, and am still learning, to challenge myself physically in small ways every day.

Step 1: I start most mornings with a CONTRAST SHOWER:

  1. 3 minutes of hot (turning the water as hot as you can stand, but not hot enough to get burned or scalded)
  2. 1 minute of icy cold
  3. 3 minutes of hot
  4. 5 minutes of icy cold

By the end of the shower, I’ll have had six minutes of hot and six of cold.

Even after doing contrast showers for almost two years, I don’t look forward to them. I hate the first round of cold. But I’m usually fine by the second round.

I find the cold difficult if I’m paying attention to it.  Having something to occupy my mind really helps. I do things that take my mind off of the cold like belting out songs or doing multiplication tables during the last five minutes.

I know some people might find doing multiplication tables more unpleasant than the cold showers, but it works for me.

It’s important in a contrast shower to make the hot water as hot as you can stand (without scalding yourself) and the cold water as cold as you can stand.

And it’s important to always end on cold, because this forces your mitochondria into biogenesis. The point is to make the little guys work for a living, not to make it easy on them.

It turns out that both cold shock and heat shock show evidence of triggering a response in your mitochondria, raising NAD levels and triggering mitochondrial biogenesis.

Oh, and, the cold hitting your white fat will turn it into brown fat, which burns body fat to produce heat.  (White fat is inert, and dangerous; brown fat can be beneficial.)

It turns brown because it’s filling up with new mitochondria. This literally makes the fat in your body change color, and function differently.

As a side benefit, I haven’t gotten more than a trace of a cold since starting this regimen. The times one started up, it was gone after the shower.

One caution: If you work out and are trying to increase your muscle mass, it is not recommended to have cold showers right after your workout.

This is because there’s growing evidence that the cold actually dampens the hormetic response to exercise that increases muscle size.

So it appears wisest to space cold showers at least two hours before or after a workout.

Someday I’ll shock the world with a video of me showering, like Ben Greenfield did in a recent video. Then again – Ben’s an athlete, in the prime of his life. He’s like totally ripped. So I may leave those kinds of videos to him.

How I started

I started doing contrast showers in September of 2018. When I started, I could only stand a few seconds of cold. I could manage 15 second,s and that was agonizing.

It got easier as my white fat turned into brown fat and my body adapted to the challenge. I built up gradually to where I can do several minutes of cold water at a time.

If you’re new to this kind of showering, I would say, don’t push yourself (unless you’re you’re a “push it hard” kind of personality.) Get a waterproof timer. If you can do 15 seconds, do that. After a week, change to 30 seconds. Then 60. It gets easier as your body adapts and changes.

If you feel chilled after the shower, you’re going too long. You should actually feel warm, as your body’s inner thermostat kicks in. It can take a couple of weeks for that kind of response to start happening.

Shower’s over? Red light therapy time

When my shower’s done, I like to “feed my mitochondria” with some red light exposure.

To do this, I stand between two rows or red lights, 660 nm on the left, and 630 nm bulbs on the right, about a foot away from my skin… do both sides… then turn around and light my other side, again with the lights a few inches from my skin.

It’s important if you want to benefit from this to expose every inch of your skin, including your sexual organs. I put on a podcast, kick back and soak up the light for a while.

These lights are not lasers, they are LEDs, and are cool to the touch, though the metal around them can get warm.

I don’t know if the benefit is physiological or psychological… probably a little of both.. but it definitely revs me up and energizes me. 

“But I’ll miss hot showers!”

So go ahead and take one. Switching over to doing cold showers   doesn’t mean that all of your showers have to be cold for the rest of your life. If you wanna take a “regular” hot shower now and then, go ahead. Or take a hot bath once in a while if you want to.

I would say to make sure that at least half of your showers end in cold, if you want to take advantage of this thermogenic effect.

“What about ice baths?”

So this one is interesting. I have taken some ice baths. I actually did get chilled. I was shivering all day afterward. I know that some people love them, but I don’t.

They may be great for some people, but based on my personal experience, I’d say, proceed with caution. 

Heat exposure

Heat exposure also has benefits. Saunas are also great for anti-aging. I’ll do a video about my experiences with them soon.

Thanks for watching. Be well, everyone

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