Hot or cold showers? A dermatologist, doctor, and fitness trainer weigh in

Hot or cold showers? A dermatologist, doctor, and fitness trainer weigh in

Rain on

Text: Azrin Tan

You're finally done with the long day, you're exhausted, and you just need a shower, stat. But which would be your go-to? The long and hot steamy shower, or the colder perk-me-up? For some, it is a time of rejuvenation and recuperation, whilst for others, it may be a much-needed respite — a personal bubble away from the world. Whatever it is, a shower is definitely an essential part of everyone's daily routine. And while most of us probably have a personal preference, what if we told you that there might be added benefits to choosing one over the other? Below, a dermatologist, a doctor, and a strength and conditioning expert all weigh in on the subject.

What a doctor says:
Dr Jade Chee, Associate Principal Practitioner from Mayfair Medical Clinic

Cold showers are often used to aid with muscle recovery as exposure to cold increases the metabolic rate. With a higher metabolic rate, fatigue is diminished, thus helping to reduce muscle pain during the recovery process post-workout. On the other hand, hot showers ultimately speed up our blood flow, thereby improving our cardiovascular health; with higher blood regulation, this also helps muscle recovery because more oxygen is being sent to our muscles. A cold shower is also potentially beneficial for depression; our sensitivity to cold sends electrical impulses to the brain — resulting in at least, a temporary relief of depressive symptoms.

Higher temperatures from warmer showers might possibly aid people with trouble sleeping. It allows the body to relax — increasing brain health and potentially your ability to fall asleep at night.


What a fitness person says:
Eddie Ng, Strength and Conditioning Expert from Evolve MMA

Hot and cold showers are generally discussed when suggesting ways to boost recovery, but the process itself, is ultimately the human body's way of adapting to and training for stress. And sometimes, speeding up the recovery process may not necessarily be beneficial as it may only dull your body's response to the training. Depending on the situation however, a recovery process may have to be chosen — i.e. when your body is preparing for a competition the next day.

In order to pick a better recovery method whether it be a hot or cold shower, it all depends on whether the individual is in a sympathetic or parasympathetic state.

(TLDR) The sympathetic function ultimately preps the body for the 'fight or flight' response whilst the parasympathetic function restores and calms the body's involuntary functions — both always need to be balanced out. If your body is in a parasympathetic state, cold shower therapy might help stimulate the sympathetic function (like an effective wake up call), and vice versa.

What a dermatologist says
Dr. Teo Wan Lin, Dermatologist (TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre)

As soothing as warm water feels, there's added benefits to cold showers — especially in tropical Singapore. Our skin remains more hydrated with a cold shower, and with reduced body temperatures, we sweat less. This might be especially key for certain individuals who sweat excessively.

The takeaway
There are clearly benefits to both, although a cold shower could pose added incentives considering our tropical climate. If it was up to us? Switching between the two sounds like a grand plan.