When coming home after a tiring 8-hour day at work, getting the right amount of exercise can be challenging. We’re stressed out, tired, and have spent hours accommodating other people. Taking a half-hour walk is likely not the most appealing way to spend your limited amount of free time.
However, while exercise is important, it isn’t the only way to burn calories, if you’re not up to taking a power walk. Here we explore the benefits of hydrotherapy as well as a study that shows how a hot 1-hour bath could burn almost 130 calories, assisting you to your fitness goals.[i]
Baths Burn Calories!
The 2017 study by Dr. Faulkner looked at 14 obese and lean males who either did 60 minutes of moderate cycling or bathed in 104°F water. Both forced the body to use more energy than when at rest, and those who bathed burned 79% more calories than they would have just sitting on the couch.
However, those biking for 60 minutes burned almost 750% more calories than when at rest. This study suggests that exercise is still the best way to lose weight and reach your fitness goals, bathing can be more accessible to people who face a lot of fatigue, stress, and muscle pain who find it difficult to exercise daily as a way to potentially increase metabolism. [ii]
The Benefits of Hot Water
Bathing provides benefits to our heart, skin, and muscles. It can be used for more than just to burn calories.
Lowering Blood Sugar
The same 2016 study by Dr. Faulkner found that bathing for one hour in 104°F water before a meal helped to regulate blood sugar better than exercise immediately after a meal when blood sugar is at its highest. These effects did not last throughout the day, but including baths around meal times can reduce dangerous blood sugar spikes without dangerous medication.[ii]
Therefore, baths can help those with type 2 diabetes and others at risk of high blood sugar to regulate the effects.
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An observational 2015 study on sauna bathing which looked at 2315 middle-aged men found that those who spent more time in the sauna had less risk of:
- Sudden cardiac death
- Fatal coronary heart disease
- Cardiovascular disease
- All-cause mortality
While this isn’t the same thing as a bath, it works on similar principles. Saunas are hot, humid, and users relax when they enter it. This study did not explore why saunas have this effect, but it does suggest that some of the conditions associated with hot baths might reduce the risk of fatal heart disease. [iii]
Hot Showers and Health Benefits
Nothing feels nicer than a long hot shower when you aren’t feeling well or just need to relax — but why?
Hot showers have assisted the body in various ways such as:[iv]
- Cleansing the skin with hot steam and water to open the pores allowing toxins to be rinsed out
- Improving circulation which also loosens joints, tendons, tissues, and muscles. This can be useful for easing pain and reducing inflammation.
- Warming up for a workout by loosening muscles and getting the blood flowing for exercise.
- Relieving stiffness by letting hot water flow over and relax the tense muscle.
- Relieving coughs: Steam can loosen phlegm and mucus that causes coughs and sore throats
- Decreasing stress and insomnia as the hot water is a natural sedative, which calms your body, mind, and nerves.
While these are the benefits of showers, many of the benefits are from the hot water and steam. Baths utilize these principles in many of the same ways: dousing muscles, pores, and nerves in warm water, while the steam produced from a hot bath can easily be inhaled for respiratory relief.
However, if you simply don’t have the time for a hot bath or you want to experience pain killing effects throughout the day on your muscles, try this acupuncture product from Aculief.
Bathing for the Elderly
A 2008 study looking at 81 elderly patients who had a 30-minute soak in mineral water found that their osteoarthritis or chronic back pain was reduced for at least three months. This study is a testament to how useful baths are at treating severe pain, providing an effective alternative to more invasive medications or less accessible massage therapists.
DIY For Natural Bath Bombs
While bathing isn’t going to burn calories at rapid speeds to turn you into an Olympic athlete, hydrotherapy is a relaxing alternative to working out and can protect you from heart disease and the complications of type 2 diabetes. Most of all, it is easy to incorporate into your lifestyle consistently because it’s not hard to “force” yourself to take a relaxing bath in the evening, is it? So go ahead and take some “me” time, you know, for your health!
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.
[i] Pickles K. The cheats’ way to lose 100 calories? Run a hot bath. Mail Online. 2016. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3748566/The-cheats-way-lose-100-calories-Run-hot-bath-hour-tub-burns-calories-30-minutes-walking-helps-type-2-diabetics.html. Accessed April 11, 2017.
[ii] Faulkner S, Jackson S, Fatania G, Leicht C. The effect of passive heating on heat shock protein 70 and interleukin-6: A possible treatment tool for metabolic diseases?. Temperature. 2016:1-13. doi:10.1080/23328940.2017.1288688.
[iii] Laukkanen T, Khan H, Zaccardi F, Laukkanen J. Association Between Sauna Bathing and Fatal Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Events. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2015;175(4):542. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8187.
[iv] Thomas T. What Can You Put in Bath Water to Help Dry Skin?. LIVESTRONGCOM. 2014. Available at: http://www.livestrong.com/article/315444-what-can-you-put-in-bath-water-to-help-dry-skin/. Accessed April 11, 2017.
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