Strongman Eugen Sandow’s Endorsement of the “Magic Cold Bath”

Editor’s note: I’ve long been a proponent of the benefits of cold showers, and cold baths are just as good, if not better, as they allow your whole body to be submerged. As another witness to the wisdom of this practice, today I add the endorsement of world famous strongman Eugen Sandow. Under the heading “The Magic Cold Bath” in his health and fitness manual, Strength and How to Obtain It (1897), Sandow recommends taking a frigid dip after each exercise session. While he suggests only staying in a cold bath for a few seconds, I personally try to soak for up to 20 minutes to get the full benefits. If you’ve been hesitant about making the plunge, maybe Sandow’s encouragement will finally get you to do it — as he says, the summer is the best time to start!

Strength and How to Ob... Eugen Sandow Best Price: $11.78 Buy New $11.74 (as of 10:15 EDT - Details) I am sometimes accused of being a bit of a faddist about the use of the cold bath, and possibly the heading of this chapter may give strength to that opinion. But it’s exhilarating and health-giving effects really justify the use of the adjective. The longer I live, and the greater my experience, the more I am convinced of its virtues. Let me advise every pupil after exercising while the body is still hot, to take a cold bath. It does not matter how much he may be perspiring; the cold bath will prove exceedingly beneficial. He must be careful, however, not to take his bath if he is out of breath. The exercises will, no doubt, quicken the heart’s action; but in from three to five minutes after the series is completed, the heart should be beating normally again. For persons who suffer from the weak heart, I should not advise a cold bath. As a general rule, there is no need to ask the questions, “Is my heart weak?” For if it is weak you should know it beyond a doubt.

In advising cold baths, I speak, of course, for persons in the enjoyment of ordinary health. The bath should be begun in the summer and continued every morning throughout the year. In the winter, if the room is cold, light the gas SANDOWu2019S System: ... Eugen Sandow Best Price: $14.79 Buy New $4.99 (as of 05:15 EDT - Details) and close the window. If your hair is not injuriously affected by cold water — and in many cases, I believe, cold water will be found to strengthen it — begin, as you stand over the bath, by splashing the water five and twenty times over your head. In any case, if you are averse to wetting the hair, be careful to begin by sponging the temples and nape of the neck. Next, whilst still standing over the bath, splash the water fifteen times against the chest and ten times against the heart. Then jump into the bath, going right down under the water. In the summer, you may remain in the water from ten to fifteen seconds, but in the winter let it be just a jump in and out again.

The subsequent rub down with towels is popularly supposed to produce half the benefits that result from a cold bath. I have no hesitation in saying that this is a great mistake. Let me explain the reason: As you get out of the bath you rub down first one part of the body and then the other, and thus, whilst one part is being warmed by the friction, the other is getting cold. Many people who take cold baths in this way complain of touches of rheumatism, and the whole trouble arises, I believe, from different parts of the body being alternately warmed and chilled.

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