Cold showers work!

Meyken Houppermans, PhD. CrossFit Level 3 Trainer.
Founder and Head Coach
Cold showers can lower the risk of chronic disease and obesity, and improve immune system and mental health.

New trend or here to stay?

Trends in health& fitness come and go. Cold showers were introduced some years ago. This trends seems proven to be beneficial for physical and mental health, compared to other more useless trends such as planking for minutes. Taking a cold shower seems a trend here to stay.

What seems the working mechanism behind it, and how to start with daily cold showers?

White and brown fat: Loser and Hero

White fat

The human body contains white fat and brown fat. When we talk about body weight, we refer to white fat. White fat consists of fat cells and white blood cells. White blood cells have the function of releasing inflammation chemicals to attack harmful invaders such as bacteria and viruses. White blood cells play an important role in immune system.

When we have too many white blood cells, for example due to being overweight, inflammation chemicals are constantly released into the blood stream in large amounts. The body is in a chronic state of inflammation. This leads to physical health damages, such as cardiovascular disease, and increases the risk of mental health issues such as depression. Furthermore, too much white fat can cause hormonal imbalances in the body which increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, infertility in men and women, and cancer. Too much white fat can auses disturbances in metabolism and in feelings of hunger and satisfaction.

In short: White fat can cause chronic diseases and mental health issues

Brown fat

Brown fat is different. Brown fat in the body is an organ which in terms of composition resembles white fat and muscle mass. Brown fat is being activated the our brain when we aree cold. And when it is activated, it burns energy: Brown fat burns white fat.

Research shows that after 6 weeks of spending 2 hours per day in a temperature of 17 degrees, people lose 1 kg of (mostly white) body fat [1].

Furthermore, taking a cold shouwer every day reduces sick leave from work with 29%. Regular activity combined with a daily cold shower reduces it up to 54%. People experience an increase in perceived energy levels comparable to having a coffee.[2]

In short: Cold showers activate brown fat to burn white fat. It can improve physical and mental health and energy levels, and decrease the risk of chronic disease.

How to start the cold shower?

-         Start today. It is a cheap way to improve health

-         Finish your regular warm shower with a 15 second cold shower.

-         Add 15 seconds to your routine every week.

-         Put up a reminder to create a healthy habit.

Create  our own health!©


[1] Boon, M. Van Rossum, L. (2019). Vet belangrijk. Feiten en fabels over voeding, vetverbranding en verborgen dikmakers.

[2] Buijze GA, Sierevelt IN, van der Heijden BC, Dijkgraaf MG, Frings-Dresen MH. The Effect of Cold Showering on Health and Work: A Randomized Controlled Trial. PLoS One. 2016 Sep 15;11(9):e0161749. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0161749. Erratum in: PLoS One. 2018 Aug 2;13(8):e0201978. PMID: 27631616; PMCID: PMC5025014.