While you may have purchased your hot tub for relaxation, soothing tired muscles or enjoying time with family and friends, health benefits may end up being the number one benefit.
A British researcher Steve Faulkner published an article in Newsweek Magazine with a compelling title: “Why Taking a Hot Bath Might Be as Good for Your Health as Exercise.” In the piece, Faulkner discusses the results of a study at Loughborough University that strongly supports the idea that bathing in hot water is in some very important respects as good for our health as exercise. Think about that: as good as exercise.
To quickly recap the study, 14 men were assigned to either an hour-long soak in a hot bath (at 104 degrees Fahrenheit) or an hour of cycling; both were designed to cause a small rise in core body temperature over the time period. Faulkner’s team measured how many calories the participants burned in each session and monitored blood sugar for 24 hours after each trial.
The results: “Bathing resulted in about as many calories being burned as a half-hour walk (around 140 calories),” Faulkner wrote. “The overall blood sugar response to both conditions was similar, but peak blood sugar after eating was about 10 percent lower when participants took a hot bath compared with when they exercised.”
He continues: “We also showed changes to the inflammatory response similar to that following exercise. The anti-inflammatory response to exercise is important as it helps to protect us against infection and illness, but chronic inflammation is associated with a reduced ability to fight off diseases. This suggests that repeated passive heating may contribute to reducing chronic inflammation, that is often present with long-term diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes.”
Faulkner and company are not the first researchers to make claims that point in this general direction. Other research suggests hot water immersion has significant neurological benefits including the ability to fight depression and reduce the effects of PTSD.
And for years now, we’ve had information that indicates immersion increases cardiovascular health. Now, it’s also implicated in benefiting the pandemic problem of Type 2 diabetes and reducing chronic inflammation.
So next time you skip your workout for a soak in the hot tub, there’s no need to feel guilty. You win either way.