Should you try an ice bath or a cold shower?
If you have been following me for a while, you already know that I love to talk about cold water exposure. I have personally benefitted from it tremendously over the course of about a year that I've been doing it regularly. As I've shared in this post, they really helped me to deal with my anxiety during the worst times of having it, and improved my sleep and mood better than anything else I had tried.
I also recommend cold water to my clients — especially for those who are more sensitive, tend to get stressed out, are likely to have anxiety and depression, and want to feel better mentally and also look great. Ice baths and cold showers can really calm down our racing mind and help us be more positive, but they also have a fat burning and metabolism raising effect. So it's a win-win all around!
Ice Bath Or Cold Shower — Is One Better Than The Other?
Now, the question that often comes up is this:
Is one is better than the other?
Should I do ice baths or cold showers to get the benefits that everyone is talking about, or it doesn't matter which one I do?
The short answer is:
The BEST one is the one that you actually do. That's what matters the most. Because if you believe that ice baths are better than cold showers but you don't have access to ice baths — then you won't get anywhere. But you have access to shower, then take the shower!
However, if you had the opportunity to do either, it's helpful to weigh the pros and cons of each.
Why Cold Showers Are Better Than Ice Baths
Cold showers are easily accessible
Most people have a shower at home, but many don't have the bath tub or don't have enough ice on hand to take ice baths. So, showers are a lot more accessible which is a huge plus. I personally prefer ice baths over cold showers, but when I don't have enough ice at home or when I can't go to Morozko Forge for my ice bath fix, the next best thing is to take a cold shower.
In short, if taking cold showers means that you're more consistent, take a cold shower!
Cold showers require no preparation time
There's another reason why cold showers are better than ice baths. Unless you have a chest freezer or a Morozko Forge, preparing for your ice bath will take significant time. You will have to go and buy the ice, bring it inside, fill your tub, pour it into the tub, and let it cool a bit before getting in.
So, it takes time and although I do it sometimes, it's relatively time consuming.
Showers however, take absolutely no preparation time. Get in, stay there for 2 minutes, and you are done!
Why Ice Baths are Better Than Cold Showers
Whole body is submerged
When you're doing cold exposure, you want to get as much of your body under water as possible. This is easy to do when you get into the ice bath — you are fully in. If you're in a shorter tub and can't fit in there fully, try to adjust your position so that you get your upper back, shouder blades and base of your neck in, too, even if it means that your knees will be out. And, get your hands and feet in there as well!
You can't do the same in cold shower, there will always be parts of your body that are not covered as the water is running over your body unevenly.
Ice bath can easily be made colder
Depending on where you live, the water in your tap water isn't always very cold. This is definitely the case here in Arizona — especially in the summertime, the water here is so warm that it barely cools you off, let alone makes you feel cold.
That's the cool thing about ice baths — you can simply buy some ice and throw it into your tub. I use 40 lbs of ice to get my water to 40F, or 60 lbs of ice if I want to get to 35-36F. You may need less if you live somewhere colder.
So, the big downside of cold showers is that you can't make the water colder, vs cold baths that you can always cool down with more ice.
Being in the ice bath is easier than taking a cold shower
This may be different for different people, but for me personally, taking an ice bath is easier than taking a cold shower. The main reasons is that I don't like how in the shower, the water is sprinkling unevenly all ver my body, and that's just not my favorite feeling. I am much more present and relaxed when I'm fully in the water. For that reason, I love ice baths or swimming in a cold water a lot more than I love taking a cold shower.
Ice bath gives stronger positive effects
This is based purely on my personal experience. I simply get a much better effect from ice bath than I do from cold showers, because of the reasons I mentioned above — I am fully submerged, and the water is typically colder (when I use the Morozko forge or when I buy ice to add to my water). Because of that, the effects are simply stronger — I feel more clarity, energy, and calm after stepping out.
Join the 5-Day Cold Water Challenge!
To get started with cold water exposure, join my 5-day Cold Water Challenge.
If you'd like to give ice baths a try (I highly recommend it!) but you have never done it before, then the best way to get your feet wet is my 5-Day Cold Water Challenge. In this challenge, we start with very small and simple cold water exposure (not even full body at first) and then add a little bit to it over the course of 5 days. By day 5, you will be ready to take your first ice bath.
I will also provide helpful guided meditations to make sure that you succeed!
You may also want to check out this video: How To Crush Your First Ice Bath.