Want to experience the benefits of hormesis very directly? Take a cold shower! And don’t just try it once, make it a habit and take cold showers daily. I have been doing it daily for the past six months and am loving it!
As one form of hydrotherapy, the health benefits of cold water therapy are numerous. Cold showers provide a gentle form of stress that leads to thermogenesis (internal generation of body heat), turning on the body’s adaptive repair systems to strengthen immunity, enhance pain and stress tolerance, and ward off depression, overcome chronic fatigue syndrome, stop hair loss, and stimulate anti-tumor responses.
Do adaptations to stress exposure show up as changes in blood chemistry or heart function? The answer appears to be “yes”. In his Newsweek article “Lessons in Survival”, Ben Sherwood reported on a very interesting study of elite Army Airborne and Special Forces soldiers that probed the differences between those who could and could not endure an extremely stressful 19-day mock-prisoner-of-war camp. The Resistance Training Laboratory, located at a secret location near Fort Bragg, North Carolina, subjected participants to sleep deprivation, blaring music, semi-starvation and — worst of all — intense interrogation techniques used by enemy forces during WWII, Korea and Vietnam. “The goal is to simulate hell on earth like the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam or Al Qaeda’s torture chambers,” according to Sherwood. In another test of mettle, at the Navy Diving and Salvage Training Center in Florida, trainee divers were put through stressful routines such as being thrown into a pool with their hands and feet bound, and underwater ocean swimming from 3 miles offshore to a target on shore.
Posted 15 Jan 2010 — by Todd
One of the best explanations of the use of “stress oscillation” for increasing physical and mental toughness can be found in the works of James E. Loehr, an athletic coach turned corporate consultant. Loehr worked with star athletes such as tennis legend Monica Seles and Olympians such as speed skater Dan Jansen to improve their performance and bounce back from defeat to become tougher and more resilient. Loehr’s insights are well summarized in two books, “Stress for Success” and “The Power of Full Engagement”, the latter co-authored with Tony Schwartz.