If there’s one great debate that’s as intense as debates on whether the chicken or the egg came first, it’s whether you should or should not take a shower immediately after workout. Nothing is probably more refreshing than washing off sweat from your body, and even better, wash it all off with cold water.
Sweat attracts moisture-loving bacteria, yeast, and fungus, and experts say that a post-workout shower not only prevents breakouts and rashes caused by these organisms, but both hot and cold showers also help improve circulation.
What to do after workout
While it might be all too tempting to hit the shower right after a workout , they also note that it is vital to wait at least 20 to 30 minutes after an intense workout before showering.
The best thing to do, according to medical professionals is to allow your body to rest slowly, for about 30 minutes after intense exercise. This means doing light, cooling down exercises like stretching for about 10 minutes. Then, change into dry, clean clothes afterwards to prevent breakouts or infections.
Finally, hydrate and take light snacks like a green salad, milkshake, or pistachio nuts to replenish electrolytes and nutrients you might have lost while working out and prevent soreness.
Why is resting after workout important?
Workout raises your heart rate and body temperature, a process that lasts even after you workout. Resting allows your body to cool down and return to its normal, pre-workout state, which normalizes your temperature and heart rate. The first 30 minutes after working out is crucial, because this is the time your muscles recover and rebuild the most.
Experts also advise against taking a shower immediately after workout, since it could cause blood vessels to dilate, which may cause a heart attack, regardless whether you used hot or cold water. People who have pre-existing heart conditions are more prone to this. As well, not allowing your body to cool down may lead to dizziness or fainting.
Which is better: hot or cold?
There really is no gold standard when it comes to post-workout showers. Both hot and cold showers have their own benefits. Hot showers help dilate oropen the blood vessels, which enhances circulation. This can help your relax and soothe muscles.
On the other hand, cold showers constrict blood vessels, which also encourages blood flow to the most important organs of the body. Cold showers decreases the body’s temperature and helps with inflammation, preventing muscles from swelling.
Whether you choose a hot or cold shower, one important thing to remember is to not opt for extremes. Ideally, a hot shower should not be more than 46ºC and cold showers not lower than 10ºC.
Most importantly, make sure that you allow your body to cool down first. Once you’ve spent 20 to 30 minutes cooling down, rest assured it’s safe (and refreshing!) to take a shower.