Everyone agrees that cooling down, drinking lots of fluids and taking post-exercise meals are important right after working out. Whether your day’s fitness regimen consists of pumping iron or sprinting for miles, carrying out these things are indispensable. But when it comes to taking a shower after working out, opinions are greatly divided.
You may be just like so many fitness enthusiasts who really don’t know if it’s a good thing or bad. The fact that some industry experts say that is beneficial and others affirm it should be avoided at all costs only puts you deeper into such dilemma that’s confusing a lot of people.
Some recommend taking a cold shower after working out because of the perks it brings — and so many fitness enthusiasts claim that it’s actually working for them. On the other hand, there had been horror stories passed from mouth to mouth about some athletes or gym buffs that all of a sudden collapsed and died on the spot just for taking a shower.
You certainly want to feel refreshed and clean after exercising. However, you certainly don’t want to breathe your last breath for trying to save everyone from body odor. So is it really good to shower or not?
Reasons to Shower
Before answering that question, it’s a good idea to know some of the reasons why taking a cold shower is recommended by some fitness experts as well as your average gym buffs. Here are the top ones:
- It soothes overworked muscles. Taking a cold shower provides relief from sore and painful muscles. Placing achy areas right under the showerhead is highly suggested. The following day, a hot shower helps boost blood flow to the area and cause those tight muscles to relax.
- Taking a shower leaves you clean and fresh smelling. It’s not your sweat per se that makes you stink — it’s those odor-causing bacteria that love to thrive in warm and moist areas. Hitting the shower after a workout, especially one that’s intense and has caused you to perspire a lot, helps keep you clean and odor-free.
- It refreshes your mind. Especially if you’re the kind of person who hits the gym or park first thing in the morning, taking a cold shower after exercising can work to your advantage. This helps in rejuvenating your mind, allowing you to carry out your various tasks and responsibilities ahead.
- It helps you burn more calories. Some experts say that taking a cold shower helps you burn even more unwanted calories. That’s because your metabolic rate is accelerated when your body attempts to keep your core body temperature at a normal range while exposing your skin to cold water.
- A cold shower bolsters the immune system. Especially after engaging in a strenuous routine, your immune system may not be in its best shape. A great way to keep it in a tip-top condition, according to experts, is by taking a cold shower. That’s because it encourages the body to produce glutathione, a potent antioxidant.
Reasons Not to Shower
There are various why some say that taking a shower — particularly a cold one — should be avoided right after having your dose of exercise. However, only a few of them actually make sense and thus worth getting the spotlight. Here are some of the reasons why some strongly oppose a cold shower after working out:
- It can cause muscle cramps. Right after working out, your muscles and tired and warm. Exposing them to cold water all of a sudden may cause a drastic change in temperature, and this may leave you suffering from muscle cramps. But then again, loss of fluids and electrolytes during and after exercising can cause muscle cramps too.
- A cold shower puts your body under stress. Vigorous exercising is actually a form of physical stress. Suddenly exposing your skin to cold water right after working out may contribute more physical strain. The good news is your body compensates by relaxing the muscles to deal with stress, as well as boosting your immunity.
What Needs to be Done
So should you take a cold shower after exercising? The answer is yes — though not immediately after working out. There’s something very important that you need to carry out before stepping foot in the shower: cool down.
Fitness experts recommend for you to do light exercises for 5 to 10 minutes. Cooling down is important because it gives your body plenty of time to switch safely and effectively from workout to normal mode. It takes your various physiologic systems as close to baseline as possible by: reducing your heart and respiratory rates, cooling your body temperature, preventing the pooling of blood in the lower extremities and bringing back the muscles to their usual length-tension relationships.