First, what is hormesis? Kurt Harris, MD, gives the best definition that I have found:
Hormesis is when a small stress induces a healthy response in an organism, such that the organism is healthier than without the stress exposure. Any stress that we have defenses for, that we would expect to encounter on an evolutionary basis, is a candidate to be hormetic. Think of this as a necessary, but not sufficient, set of conditions, though.
See his blog post for a more complete discussion: William Munny Eats His Vegetables. This post is powerful and funny.
What about cold showers and hormesis? Cold water has been buzzing about in the paleo world, but I have been too busy to explore it. I haven’t said a word about it to anyone – just too busy. To my amazement, my son, Colson (age 9) decides he is going to start taking a 30 to 60 second cold shower at the end of his regular shower. Ryan and I hear him counting really loud, eventually shouting, while he is in the shower. We ask Colson what he is doing and he says he is seeing how long he can take it in the cold shower.
I used to swim in Lake Superior when there was ice. I have walked a mile in 90 below wind chill (the wind was insane) and managed to keep all of my skin when others didn’t (seriously gross). College.
I have laid down in a snow melt streams in Colorado, and gone from a sauna straight into the snow. That was my early 30s.
Now I am 46 and a cold shower doesn’t sound all that wonderful. Colson says I should try it, and, as usual, when a challenge is thrown down I take it. I proudly survived my 30 second cold blast, and it was ok. Then I learned that Colson bumped it up to a minute, so we shall see how I do this morning.
What is up with cold showers and hormesis? I went to Mark Sisson to find out, as I remember seeing a few headlines about it recently on his blog. The articles didn’t satisfy me, though, so I did a little searching and found this one, which seems pretty good: Cold Showers from the blog Getting Stronger. I haven’t explored this blog at all, but it looks like a fun one, so I will be diving in.
Need to get the workout in before the guys wake up. Then off for the 60 second cold blast, I hope!