Effect of Cold Shower on Recovery From High-Intensity Cycling in the Heat

J Strength Cond Res. 2019 Aug;33(8):2233-2240. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003017.


Ajjimaporn, A, Chaunchaiyakul, R, Pitsamai, S, and Widjaja, W. Effect of cold shower on recovery from high-intensity cycling in the heat. J Strength Cond Res 33(8): 2233-2240, 2019-Post-exercise cooling, e.g., cold water immersion has shown beneficial cardiovascular and hormonal effects during recovery from exercise in a hot environment. However, not much is known about the effects of a cold water shower (CWS) as a recovery intervention. This study examined the effects of a CWS on heart rate (HR), core temperature (Tc), salivary cortisol, and thermal comfort sensation (TCS) after exercise in the heat. Nine healthy male subjects (age, 21 ± 1 year) performed 45 minutes of cycling in a hot environment (35° C, 40-60% relative humidity) at 65% of peak oxygen uptake. Thereafter, subjects underwent the CWS condition (15 minutes, 15° C water shower) or control (SIT25; 15 minutes passive recovery in 25° C room) in a randomized crossover design. After each 15 minutes, subjects sat in a 25° C room for another 2-hour recovery. Heart rate, Tc, and TCS were recorded before and immediately after exercise, immediately after CWS or SIT25, and at 30 minutes, 1, and 2 hours during additional recovery. Salivary cortisol was collected at the same time points except at 30 minutes of the additional recovery period. Thermal comfort sensation was higher immediately after CWS (+4; very comfortable) than SIT25 (+1; just comfortable). The change of HR decreased faster with CWS (-18.3 ± 2.3%) than with SIT25 (-7.0 ± 4.6%) at the first 30-minute recovery time point (p < 0.01). No differences between recovery conditions were observed for the Tc or salivary cortisol at any time point during the 2-hour recovery period. The findings demonstrate that a 15-minute, 15° C CWS was not effective in reducing Tc or salivary cortisol during recovery from exercise in a hot environment. However, CWS can promote TCS by facilitating a faster HR recovery after 30-minute postintervention compared with passive recovery. The cooling benefits of a CWS could be only recommended to reduce cardiac stress after routine workout in a hot environment.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / analysis
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Thermosensing / physiology
  • Water*
  • Young Adult


  • Water
  • Hydrocortisone