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Alternating showers: The shower can be as cold or as warm as possible



  • How often and how long should you shower?
  • Why do men shower so often?
  • How hot or cold should you shower?
  • What does contrast showers mean?
  • How do contrast showers work?
  • What are the benefits of a cold shower?
  • What are the benefits of a warm shower?

Warm water is for wimps? Does a cold shower toughen you up and strengthen your immune system? There are many myths circulating about showering. Our experts clarify what effects different water temperatures have when showering.

How often and how long should you shower?

“From a medical point of view, 2 to 3 times a week is sufficient. Showering too much damages the protective fat layer of the skin,” says dermatologist Dr. Athanasios Theodoridis from the Center for Corrective Medicine in Freiburg.x

However, it also depends on what you do: With an office job, you don’t have to shower as often as with a job where you get dirty. Incidentally, it is not the shower temperature that is crucial for hygiene, but rather the soap: “Germs cling to the soap, so to speak, so that they are removed immediately when you rinse,” says Dr. Ernst Tabori from the German Advisory Center for Hygiene (BZH) in Freiburg.

The maximum amount of time you should spend in the shower depends on the temperature: To protect the skin, warm showerers should take shorter showers, a maximum of 7 minutes. Cold showers can be sprinkled on for a little longer, up to 10 minutes is optimal.

If you like to shower longer and warmer, you should choose cleaning products that are gentle on the skin’s acid mantle. Soap-free, pH-neutral washing bars without perfume (e.g. washing bar from Eubos) or washing lotions (e.g. from Canea, with moisturizing ingredients) are suitable.

In general, if you shower frequently, you should, for the sake of the environment and your utility bills, take shorter showers and turn off the water to soap up.

Why do men shower so often?

Personal hygiene is not the main reason why many men take a shower regularly. “People shower mainly to feel better,” says dermatologist Dr. Karsten Hartmann from the vein center in Freiburg.

Showering is part of many people’s everyday lives, even though there is no need for hygiene. A study by the opinion research institute Kantar Emnid from 2017 makes this clear: half of all Germans even shower every day. “Unpleasant body odors also cause many people to shower more often,” explains Dr. Theodoridis. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A good alternative would be to wash the intimate area and armpits with a washcloth, as unpleasant body odors usually only come from these areas.

How hot or cold should you shower?

The basic rule is: only shower as hot or cold as you can tolerate it. However, lovers of particularly hot showers should make sure that the temperature does not exceed 43 degrees. If you shower too hot, your skin will dry out too much. Those who take hot showers should therefore pay attention to moisturizing cleaning products in the shower (e.g. frei Oil Wash & Shower Cream).

When taking a cold shower, the following also applies: You should never suddenly shower yourself with cold water, otherwise you will give your body a cold shock. It’s best to start with lukewarm water and slowly regulate the temperature down.

What does contrast showers mean?

When taking a contrast shower, you always start with warm water to initially dilate the blood vessels. Start with no more than 39 degrees for the first warm run and do not increase the temperature above 42 degrees later. After about 30 seconds you switch to cold water, i.e. about 14 to 18 degrees, depending on your individual level of pain. Always start the casting on the legs, then the arms, then the upper body and finally the head. How often you change, for example 4 or 8 times, is up to you, the only important thing is that you finish the alternating shower with cold water.

How do contrast showers work?

Alternating showers have many, especially health benefits:

1. Alternating showers strengthen the immune system: Not cold, but alternating showers strengthens your immune system: “The blood vessels are trained by the cold-warm alternating shower, so to speak, which strengthens them,” says Dr. Hartman.

In a 2016 study at Jena University Hospital, researchers tested the alternation of warm and cold showers in people with chronic bronchitis. After 10 weeks, they had 13 percent fewer respiratory infections because their blood contained more lymphocytes, which are responsible for fighting off diseases. So if you are particularly sensitive to the weather, contrast showers are ideal for you.

2. Alternating showers make you happy: Do you know the relief when you come home to a warm apartment, frozen through in the winter? Alternating showers feel the same way. Dr. Hartmann: “The greater the temperature differences when showering, the more intense the feelings of happiness are perceived.” It is therefore worth starting the day with a contrast shower.

A possible explanation for the feeling of happiness: “Because the lymphatic system can work more reliably, more toxins are removed from the body,” says the shower expert.

3. Alternating showers help against sore muscles: After the workout, it relieves your muscles. “Similar to compression stockings, the narrowing of the blood vessels during a contrast shower can lead to some reduction in the pain of sore muscles,” says Dr. Hartman.

A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology in 2011 supports the theory: Muscle soreness symptoms in cyclists were lower if they alternated between showering with cold and warm water after training.

4. Alternating showers lower blood pressure: Alternating showers are also beneficial for your circulation. Because: “By training the blood vessels, blood pressure is lowered somewhat,” explains Dr. Hartman. Ideal for people with high blood pressure.

Recommendation: Are you worried that you have high blood pressure? With Aktiia you can conveniently measure your blood pressure 24/7 on your wrist. The only thing you have to do is wear a bracelet. We tested it and are thrilled. To set it up, all you have to do is pair the bracelet with the app, measure your blood pressure once with the included cuff, and the lightweight bracelet will continuously measure your blood pressure using pulse wave analysis – day and night. In addition to blood pressure, heart rate is also measured. In the app you can then have reports compiled about the data collected – for yourself and also for your doctor. Here You can find out more about the clinically tested blood pressure monitor and order it conveniently for your home.

What are the benefits of a cold shower?

Cold water in the morning? A nightmare for many! But these arguments speak for it:

  • Cold showers are good for skin and hair: dry skin? Straw hair? The cause could not only be the shampoo, but also water that is too hot. When you use warm water, the skin’s protective layer of fat comes off, causing it to dry out more quickly. Here too, cold showers pay off: “People who are prone to neurodermatitis or dry skin in particular should therefore take a cold shower,” advises Dr. Theodoridis. The hair also benefits: cold water deepens the hair follicles, making the hair look stronger and healthier
  • Taking a cold shower boosts fat burning: The shower temperature also affects your weight loss success: cold water activates the brown fat cells, which, in contrast to fattening white fat, do not store calories but burn them. However, brown fat is not particularly active in our body – but these fat cells can be activated with cold water.
  • Cold showerers are less likely to be on sick leave: The belief that cold showers strengthen the immune system is widespread. Dr. Theodoridis: “But there are no studies that prove this.” But what researchers found in a study at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam in 2016: Among the almost 3,000 participants, the cold showerers were 29 percent less likely to be on sick leave than the warm showerers.
  • Taking a cold shower can help with depression: You’ll also be doing something good for your mental health, as cold showers have an antidepressant effect. A study published in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences in 2014 explains the effectiveness against depression with the increased release of beta-endorphins and norepinephrine when taking a cold shower. The neurotransmitter norepinephrine, for example, regulates our attention, concentration and motivation – things that depressed people often lack. Therefore, a deficiency in the messenger substance is also associated with depression. So: If you often have depressive moods, taking a cold shower every day can relieve your symptoms. However, you have to do this consistently over several weeks, because there will be no improvement overnight.
  • Cold showers protect you from germs: If the temperature is too warm, the germs will thank you. “Hot water dries out the skin – making it a prey for bacteria,” says hygiene expert Tabori. Especially if you already tend to have dry skin, it’s better to take cold showers – and not too often.

What are the benefits of a warm shower?

Around 45 percent of all Germans take warm showers, according to a survey by the opinion research institute Kantar Emnid. The term “warm showerer” doesn’t have a good image. But taking a warm shower is better than its reputation – if you don’t turn the temperature up too high.

  • Taking a warm shower is the perfect stress reliever: Have you had another hard day at work? Then off to the shower! In the evening the water can be hotter. “Higher water temperatures cause the vessels to expand – this relaxes the muscles,” says Hartmann. However, if you are constantly stressed, a warm shower in the evening is not a long-term solution, otherwise your skin will suffer.
  • Taking a warm shower fights colds: The water vapors created by a warm shower help loosen mucus in the nose. “In addition, if you have a cold, it is better to take a slightly warmer shower for your physical well-being,” advises Dr. Hartman. Because when you are sick, cold puts a strain on your immune system. Tip: Shower oils with eucalyptus and thyme dissolve mucus in the respiratory tract even better.
  • Taking a warm shower helps you fall asleep: Did you not sleep a wink again? If you just can’t find peace in the evening, it’s best to sprinkle yourself with warm water. After a warm shower, the body temperature drops and the sleep messenger melatonin is released.

Whether warm, cold or alternating: all water temperatures when showering have various health benefits. If you want to strengthen your immune system, you should prefer contrast showers. After a stressful day, a warm shower is the ideal way to wind down. If you have dry skin, we recommend cold water to protect your skin.


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