Cold shower — 49 degrees!

December 24, 2013 by Joshua
in Blog, Fitness, SIDCHAs

[This post is part of a series on Cold Showers. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view that series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]

Today is my twenty-second of thirty taking deliberate cold showers. It’s an amazing experience I would never have guessed as valuable as I’ve found it. I’ll write more on it after day thirty. For now I’ll note two things:

  • Cold showers are incredibly invigorating. You can’t leave a cold shower bored, lazy, lethargic, or depressed. They give you energy.
  • They build mental fortitude. After you decide to start a cold shower and to stay in for five minutes, not eating a piece of chocolate cake is trivial.

Yesterday I bought a thermometer. This morning I measured the temperature. It said 48.9 degrees Fahrenheit.

(EDIT: the next day it said 48.3 degrees)

(EDIT 2: December 31st it said 47.3 degrees. I look forward to July cold showers, probably ten or twenty degrees warmer)

(EDIT 3: January 1st, my last of thirty days, it said 46.2 degrees)

(EDIT 4: A new post on a new personal best, 45.7 degrees)

My physics training tells me since I don’t know the measurement’s uncertainty I can’t trust the number. It’s a cooking thermometer with digital readout. I’ll find something to calibrate it against. In the meantime, I’d guess it’s accurate to a few degrees.

In the meantime, my quick search online didn’t uncover any other reports on measured shower water temperatures. It feels about as running water will get. I figure the water gets to roughly the ground temperature, which will take months to get to freezing, right? New York this morning is in the low 30s. The past few days were warm — hitting a record-breaking 70 Sunday.

Today’s water felt about as cold as I’ve felt. It’s still not painful, but definitely uncomfortable. My fingertips keep turning slightly purple. It takes ten or twenty minutes to warm up. Rinsing after brushing my teeth is uncomfortable too.

You’d think I’d shiver just after the shower, but I don’t. Then I’m in a great mood, full of energy and excitement, laughing at the absurdity of what I did. Ten minutes later I might shiver a little, maybe just from being in a house below 70 degrees with wet hair.

Anyway, I recommend cold showers more than ever. Until I write them up more after the thirty-day period, if you’re wondering, as nearly everyone does, why anyone would do such a thing, read the links from my post a couple weeks ago, “Adrenaline-rush activities you can do right now that beat jumping out of planes“. Most of you won’t try it, or even seriously consider it. Those who at least consider it might recognize the risk of injury and cost in time and money is zero, and the worst you suffer is some discomfort. But how much value do you put on comfort? If it’s so high, why don’t you just eat ice cream and watch TV all the time? If you recognize the value in challenging yourself, why not increase the challenge and see where it takes you? Seriously, there’s no risk to it.

Another big lesson of recent decades is the value of experiential learning, in contrast to the book learning the world imposed on me most of my life. Some things you can only learn by doing — dancing, singing, playing sports, and social skills come to mind. You can’t understand the value of deliberately taking cold showers without trying them. And I’d say for a month.

I wrote the following to Joel Runyon about a week ago, who is promoting cold showers more than I am.

It’s snowy and wintery here and I think the cold water temperature dropped a couple degrees. Yesterday my fingertips were purple by the end of the shower, I presume from the cold, which hadn’t happened before. Some people might think of stopping or wondering about potential dangers. I thought about people who jump into frozen lakes, putting their whole bodies under icy water, and decided it was just part of the process. My fingertips weren’t about to fall off. They were just purple.

 Let me know if you decide to try.

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4 responses on “Cold shower — 49 degrees!

  1. I’ve also been experimenting with cold showers for myself lately. But only with cold endings (10-30 seconds of cold water at the end). What different effects do you find between this and the full cold shower. I will try the full cold shower after the hollidays.

    • Try it and find out!

      Like I said, verbal descriptions can’t convey the experience.

      Also, click the link to my last post on the subject and at the links in it. They answer your question.

      And check back again after January 2nd. I plan to write more when I finish my thirty-day test.

  2. I’ve done the cold showers for about a week now, after reading it on your blog. It’s a test of willpower, and I feel more energetic afterward. I’m also more resistant to the cold when I go out, because I feel like I’ve removed all the warmth and my body is working internally to get me back to normal.

    My next jump would be to do a cold shower in the morning before work.

    • More than a test of willpower, I think of it as training willpower.

      Read what others write about it too since they give other perspectives. It’s crazy how good a cold shower makes you feel. Not the pleasure of the physical sensation, but the happiness and reward of accomplishment.

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