Cold Shower vs Cold Plunge: What’s Better?

Cold Shower vs Cold Plunge: What’s Better?

In recent years, the concept of cold water therapy has gained popularity for its potential therapeutic benefits. A question we hear often is "What is the difference between a cold shower vs cold plunge?"

In this article, we’ll compare their similarities and differences, including the health benefits of cold water immersion, so you can choose the best option for you.

What Is the Best Cold Plunge Temp?


Before we compare the two, it's important to address a fundamental aspect of cold water therapy: temperature. The effectiveness of cold therapy often depends on the temperature of the water.

The optimal temperature for a cold plunge depends on your individual experience and preferences. Studies suggest that it typically ranges from 3-10 degrees Celsius (37-50 degrees Fahrenheit).

This temperature range is notably colder than what you might have access to in an average shower. Cold shower temperatures usually hover around 12-15 degrees Celsius (55-60 degrees Fahrenheit) during warmer months and can drop below 7 degrees Celsius in colder seasons.

Cold Shower vs Cold Plunge

Now we’ll dive into the differences and similarities between a cold shower vs cold plunge to help you find the right cold therapy solution choice for you.


While cold showers and cold plunges share common ground, they also have distinct differences. A significant difference lies in the coverage and immersion experience.

In a cold shower, you continuously rotate to expose different body parts to the cold water. In contrast, a cold plunge or ice bath involves full-body immersion, ensuring that all muscle groups benefit from the therapeutic effects of cold water.

As previously mentioned, cold plunges are typically colder than cold showers, potentially leading to more intense cold exposure and, consequently, enhanced benefits.

Cold Shower vs Cold Plunge Benefits

Now, let's explore the specific advantages of a cold plunge vs cold shower for various wellness aspects:

Workout Recovery

Man lifting barbell

Cold plunges are often favored for workout recovery. The full-body immersion in cold water helps alleviate muscle soreness and prepare the body for subsequent exercise sessions, potentially improving performance.

Research suggests that cold water immersion at temperatures between 3-10 degrees Celsius (50-60 degrees Fahrenheit) for 11-15 minutes is particularly effective.

Weight Loss

Exposure to cold temperatures, such as in ice baths or cold plunges, may contribute to weight loss. Cold therapy can increase brown fat in the body, which aids in processing glucose and fat molecules, ultimately enhancing metabolism.

Restful Sleep

Both cold showers and cold plunges can improve sleep quality. Restful sleep is essential for overall wellness, and cold water immersion has been shown to facilitate better sleep.

Mental Resilience

The mental strength gained from facing cold temperatures is a shared benefit of cold showers and cold plunges. This can help individuals build mental resilience and potentially combat rising mental health issues.

Increased Blood Circulation

Both methods stimulate blood circulation, which is vital for cardiovascular health. Cold water immersion can stimulate blood circulation by causing blood vessels to constrict and then dilate upon rewarming. This promotes improved circulation throughout the body.

Reduced Inflammation

Woman stretching

Cold plunges have been linked to reduced inflammation and muscle soreness, making it an effective therapy for conditions like arthritis and chronic pain.

Stronger Immune System

Exposure to cold water, whether in a shower or plunge, can contribute to a more robust immune system, potentially reducing the risk of illness.

Less Stress

Lastly, cold water therapy, regardless of the method, may help reduce stress levels and induce a sense of calmness by lowering cortisol levels.

How to Use Cold Water Therapy

Cold tub outdoors in mountains

If you're considering incorporating cold water therapy into your routine, it's crucial to prepare properly and start gradually.

Begin with shorter durations of cold exposure and gradually increase them as your tolerance builds. Never exceed 20 minutes of cold immersion, as it can be harmful to the body.

Conclusion: Cold Shower vs Cold Plunge

In conclusion,  cold water therapy, both cold showers and cold plunges, offer unique health benefits. The choice between the two depends on your specific goals, budget, and available time.

If you’re looking to improve your health, speed up athletic recovery, and reduce stress, cold tubs are the best option. However, using both practices strategically can provide a full spectrum of wellness benefits that you won’t find anywhere else.

Ultimately, the best choice is the one that aligns with your individual wellness objectives and preferences. If you’re eager to learn more about cold and hot exposure therapy, check out the rest of our blog.

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