This interesting piece of research recently caught my eye: People who end their showers with a blast of cold water tend to be absent from work less often than those who don’t.

The practice is not necessarily something you’ll want to suggest employees undertake before coming to work every day, and of course nobody should try to “power through” and go into a senior living community with the flu or another contagious illness that may spread. That’s not a good idea in any workplace but definitely is a bad idea in a healthcare or residential setting filled with vulnerable older adults. Still, one might be tempted to give it a try when not feeling the best for some other reason.

The research actually was published in 2016 in the journal PLOS One, but I read about it online in the Harvard Business Review, which published an article about the study in its March-April 2018 issue.

Geert A. Buijze, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues asked approximately 3,000 volunteers in the Netherlands to end their showers with a blast of cold water for at least 30 seconds every day for 30 days. Those who did were absent 29% fewer days, on average, than the others. If they exercised regularly, too, then they were absent 54% less than the others.

“Participants who took the cold showers actually reported feeling ill just as many days, on average, as the people who showered normally,” Buijze told the Harvard Business Review. “But either their symptoms were less severe or they felt more energetic, so they were better able to push through the sickness and function anyway.”

Buijze cautioned that people should still wash their hands and cover their mouths if they cough around their co-workers. Cold water may be energizing, but it’s not a cure-all, after all.

Lois A. Bowers is senior editor of McKnight’s Senior Living. Follow her on Twitter at @Lois_Bowers. Email her at