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Cold Shower, Anyone?

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In my grandfather's youth, all food was organic, dairy came straight from the cow, and most days were spent working hard in the fresh air. Even so, my grandfather attributed his health and longevity to a daily cold water rinse.

In my grandfather's youth, all food was organic, dairy came straight from the cow, and most days were spent working hard in the fresh air. Even so, my grandfather attributed his health and longevity to a daily cold water rinse.

At the end of each shower, my grandfather would turn the "hot" off and splash cold water all over his body. This lifted all morning grogginess and left him feeling young and invigorated.

While most of us do not have the constitution or the will to withstand a full body cold-water rinse every morning, luckily for us, partial water treatments still work miracles on poor circulation, driving out the cold, strengthening the veins, and beautifying and firming skin. Alternating warm and cold treatments are further reputed to increase longevity and ward off sickness.

Water Stepping

Water stepping is the ultimate treatment for circulatory problems in the legs, including spider veins, varicose veins, and hot, swollen feet. It is therapeutic for mild high blood pressure, calms restless legs, and relaxes the entire nervous system.

Begin by warming the bathroom. Your body will need to be warm for this treatment as well, and you'll need warm feet. Fill the bathtub with cold water to below the knee. Step into the cold water one leg at a time and then walk in place, lifting each leg high out of the water. Continue for 10 seconds or as long as you feel comfortable. When you are finished, wipe off excess water with your hand and dry only the toes with a towel. Put on warm socks.

You can also perform water stepping in the ocean or in the snow just be sure to keep warm as you practise. Water stepping regularly not only moves sluggish circulation, but also builds health.

Foot Baths

If you suffer cold feet, alternating hot and cold foot baths will warm them, while gently treating circulatory disturbances. Find two buckets that can be filled ankle deep with water. Fill one with warm water and the other with cold.

Soak both feet in the warm water for five minutes. While exhaling, switch to the cold water, right foot first and then left. Soak in the cold water about 10 seconds. Repeat the warm and cold treatment one more time before drying off the feet.

Now put on warm socks and, either take a brisk walk, or immediately go to bed to achieve full benefit. Foot baths before bed calm restless legs and help you fall asleep.

Cold Water Rinses

As my grandfather knew, the simple practice of rinsing with cold water energizes, improves circulation, and actually toughens the body to cold weather. Cold water rinses are also an excellent treatment for varicose veins. You can gradually immerse your body into a steady shower of water or use a hand-held showerhead to do this exercise more easily.

After a shower or bath, begin by splashing cold water on the toes, moving up the outside of the right leg to the hip, then down the inside of the leg. End by splashing water on the soles of the feet. Repeat on the left side.

Dry Brushing

As a complement to water therapy, dry brushing is excellent for circulation. It will warm you up in less than five minutes and leave you feeling rejuvenated. By removing dead skin and reviving new cells, dry brushing firms and beautifies.

For the full treatment you will need a sisal mitt and back strap. Dry brushing is best performed before your morning shower or bath. To begin, use a rough sisal mitt and brush your right foot with regular upward sweeps up the leg, continuing up toward the heart, working until the skin becomes flushed. After each leg, continue at the right abdomen, circle around the belly button, then up the right arm, left arm, and around the nipples in a figure eight, taking extra care not to brush the nipples. Also avoid brushing the sensitive skin on the neck and face. Finish with the buttocks and the back.

Spend just a few minutes a day incorporating these simple techniques into your schedule. You will feel youthful and have more energy while treating circulatory problems. My grandfather, who loved his cold water rinse, lived well into his eighties.

Spas in Germany specializing in hydrotherapy are very popular. Their reputation and therapeutic value is so well accepted that medical insurance pays for visits.

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