A hot bath may have more benefits than you think
By Mildred Delgado
Getting hot and sweaty after doing exercise has long been known to have various health benefits. Research has been conducted into how having a hot bath could have similar effects.
How many calories can you burn?
It is important to note that any study has limitations, including but not limited to sample size and other factors. However, studies have found that hot baths can have plenty of benefits you may never have known. For example, did you know that sitting in a hot bath can burn 126 kcal/hour? Given, that high endurance exercises such as cycling can burn around 800 kcal/hour, hot baths cannot give you the same effect as exercise can, but as an additional tool, they could be beneficial. Used pre- or post-workout, or for those who cannot exercise, say, due to health or mobility issues, they could be a great tool.
Why is sugar so important?
Sugar could play a large part in how a hot bath may help us. A study by Dr. Falkner of Loughborough University found that hot water could take sugar away from the bloodstream and into muscle cells (where they are either stored or burned). “Heat shock proteins play a part here, in that they help with blood sugar control. They are keeping blood sugar lower which, for example, is important after a meal. Monitoring sugar levels could be even more important for those with diabetes” says Juliane Evans, a lifestyle blogger at Writemyx and Britstudent.
Release the tension
Hydrotherapy has long been used for those with musculoskeletal disorders. The protein myoglobin is released into the blood after the damage of muscles. In those who used hot tubs (or similar) after tissue damage, lower levels of myoglobin were found. It makes sense then that hot water can significantly reduce muscle tension, as well as having various additional benefits. Have you ever felt better after having a hot bath when you have had a cold? That’s because the high temperatures helped clear your airways. Improved sleep and mood could be peripheral benefits. Although your body needs to cool before you sleep, building a hot bath or spa routine into your evening could help relax you before sleeping.
As well as clearing your airways and helping with breathing problems, baths can also help with skin problems. For those with particularly oily or greasy skin, hot baths and saunas can help open your pores. Be aware though, that for those with dry skin, spending excessive time in hot water could exacerbate dryness and irritation. If you suffer from dry or itchy skin, cold showers may be more advantageous. You don’t need to give up on hot showers either though, at least not totally. Just turn the temperature down a few degrees.
It is still good to stay in shape
Note that taking baths or visiting saunas and spas will not improve your general fitness level in the way that exercise would. It is also worth noting that those with obesity responded less well, which could signify that general health is also important. “It is also important to note that, during the studies, it was found that the temperature of the bath needs to be significantly high (normally more than 102 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius) and for a time of 60 minutes or longer,” says Jason Janelle, a blog writer at Nextcoursework and 1Day2write.
Of course, we need to look at long-term effects as well. Various previous studies have found that, when combined with other exercise or fitness regimes, hot baths only have positive effects, although as mentioned, it’s best to check with a doctor if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
We may not know the reasons why baths, spas, and saunas have these positive effects. We simply know the reasons. Provided that you do not have underlying heart issues or issues with being able to regulate your body temperature, it is safe to assume that taking the occasional hot bath alongside exercise will not have any disadvantages. One final point to note is that hot water can decrease fertility in men, so it may be worth holding off on any sauna or spa visits if you are planning on starting a family.
Mildred Delgado, a marketing strategist and freelancer, works with marketing teams to create sites that show companies in the best light at Acadamic Brits and PhD Kingdom. Mildred, 24, creates marketing proposal slideshows when she presents this information. More examples of her work can be found at Origin Writings.