Taking a warm shower is so routine that most of the time you don’t even notice the hot water, unless it runs out. But what if you took a cold shower – willingly? How cold does the water need to be to reap the benefits? Most research suggests the water should be between 10-15 degrees celsius.

Here are 5 reasons why you should embrace the cold:

Improves skin and hair: cold water prevents your hair and skin from losing too many natural oils and losing its moisture. The cold also helps your hair appear shiny and healthy by keeping the follicles flat and increasing their grip on the scalp. Think of it as a free beauty treatment!

Helps ease symptoms of depression: one study shows that taking a cold shower may help alleviate symptoms of depression by sending electrical nerve impulses to the brain. Due to the high density of cold receptors in the skin, a cold shower sends an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which might result in an anti-depressive effect.

Speeds up muscle recovery: there’s a reason cold showers are often used by professional athletes as a recovery technique. Research has found that immersing yourself in cold water can reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). The cold numbs nerve endings which gives you short term pain relief. The cold can also improve blood circulation which helps your muscles get rid of lactic acid. Cold water may in fact be more helpful in recovery than rest.

Increases alertness: cold showers might be coffee’s equal in waking you up first thing in the morning. Taking a cold shower increases your alertness because your body starts to produce norepinephrine which acts in the same way as your body’s flight of fight response. That’s why the brave people who take the polar bear plunge say it gives them a shot of adrenaline. The icy water has an energizing effect on the nervous system that boosts alertness.

Speeds up your metabolism: taking a cold shower shocks your body and drives your cardiovascular system into overdrive and gets your metabolism moving. Additionally, when your body is cold it starts shivering trying to generate heat. Cold showers also boost your metabolism by triggering the production of brown fat.  Brown fat is the fat the burns energy and produces heat as opposed to white fat which stores calories.