You likely think of a comforting bubble bath as the antidote to a stressful day. It surely can be that. But a new study suggests a long, hot bath may be as helpful to you as a gentle exercise regimen, too.
British scientists report that hot-water immersion — that is, an extended sit in a hot-water bath — may help reduce inflammation and control blood sugar levels much the same way a workout does. This is specifically helpful for individuals who are unable to exercise or meet weekly physical activity recommendations.
However, before you turn on your tap and drop in a dissolving bath bomb, you should understand the limitations of these studies. Here are a few hot bath benefits:
Hot Bath Health Benefits
1. It helps create a time-slowing ritual
Filling the tub with hot water while lighting a candle, turning on a relaxing playlist, and prepping some bath oils, immediately gets your brain out of work mode and saves your eyes from unnecessary strain. Before even enjoying the hot bath itself, the act of preparing it will be somewhat meditative.
2. Relieves muscle tension
Hot showers can soothe stiff muscles and relieve tension. If you have an effective showerhead, even better! Leave the hot water work like a mini massage on your shoulders, neck, and back .
[Also Read: Relieve Stress With Bathtub Meditation]
3. It quiets the mind
Research has found that immersion bathing (meaning baths) improves both emotional and physical aspects of quality of life, with significant mental and general health scores and lower scores for tension-anxiety, stress, depression-dejection, anger-hostility .
[Also Read: Health Benefits of Detox Baths]
4. It makes breathing easier and relieves cold symptoms
Aided by essential oils, the hot bath is a wonderful way to open up nasal passageways, taking in deep breaths that simultaneously induces relaxation. Research has indicated that an elevated body temperature helps specific types of immune cells to work better.
Warm baths also strengthen the immune system, which would be considered one of the greatest benefits. You’ll experience reduced sinus pressure and less congestion.
5. It improves skin
If you have sensitive skin, it is best to turn the temperature down (lukewarm is suggested) and follow the “Soak and Seal” method as suggested by the NEA (National Eczema Association), towel-drying lightly and leaving the skin slightly damp and then adequately applying moisturizer within 3 minutes.
6. It helps you sleep
Research has shown that a nightly hot bath (and even a hot foot bath if you cannot take a complete bath) facilitates earlier sleep onset. If you suffer from restless legs (and have been using a weighted blanket because of it), the hot baths help ease the tension even more.
Rather than waking up with a sore neck or tight joints, you’ll feel like my younger, more agile self, stepping out of bed in the morning (note to self to stretch more).
[Also Read: Why Proper Sleep Is Important]
7. Lowers blood sugar
Forget strolling. A hot bath is just what you require to burn calories and lower your blood sugar. In recent research undertaken by Loughborough University, researchers investigated the effect a hot bath has on energy expended (number of calories burned) and blood sugar control (an important measure of metabolic fitness).
They recruited fourteen men to participate in the research, who each soaked in a hot bath for 60 minutes. The researchers then compared how many calories were burned in every session and measured their blood sugar for twenty-four hours after every trial.
Hot bathing resulted in many calories being burned as a 30-minute walk (about 140 calories). The final blood sugar response to both conditions was the same. Goodbye, gym .
8. Lowers blood pressure
Research has proven that soaking in a hot bath can lower your blood pressure. This is an excellent system for those with heart conditions and even those who don’t.
But first, consult your physician if you have a heart condition because a hot bath will also raise your heartbeat rate. If the physician says it’s okay, it’s a great way of bringing down your blood pressure.
9. Enhanced blood circulation
Dipping your body in hot water to the neck is kind of a workout for your blood vessels. This is because water exerts physical pressure on your body, so it increases our heart’s capacity.
To put it simply, when we’re inside the water, the heart works stronger and faster. Consider this more like a light workout, and just a few dips a week is an excellent workout for your cardiac muscles.
It helps us feel better about ourselves. After a strenuous day, take a nice hot shower and try to relax, as it’s believed that when we feel better physically, we feel better about ourselves, the more convinced we are up to the challenges ahead. A warm bath is also an excellent way to reduce daily anxiety and make us feel better all around.
The above study results indicate that hot-water baths may be beneficial for people who are unable to exercise or sedentary. Suppose people are in a situation where their health is compromised, and they are physically not able to participate in physical activity.
In that case, hot-water immersion could be a beneficial modality to decrease some of the risk factors related to inactivity and obesity. But for individuals who can do exercises, these studies aren’t permitted to skip the gymnasium and hit the bathtub.
Rather, you can use hot-water baths to supplement your exercises and possibly prolong your body’s natural inflammatory response.