Self-care tips, tools, techniques & neuroscience research for MIND, BODY & SOUL – shared with a wink and a smile
Great News if you’re in hot water! No need to exercise – A Hot Bath Can Do Good Things
I fill up my tub, climb in, sink down till the water hits my chin. Just imagining it now I can feel my muscles relax, my mind relax into the warmth. I love soaking in water. It turns out that a hot bath has lots of benefits besides relaxing your muscles, warming you up and letting you relax.
Science is beginning to confirm what many cultures around the world have always known: Passive heating (as opposed to getting hot and sweaty from exercise) can improve health.
Soaking It All In by Peggy
Researchers assigned 14 men to either an hour of moderate cycling or an hour-long soak in a 104-degree bath.
Unsurprisingly, the cyclists burned more calories, but the bathers still burned about 140 calories on average — about what they would have used on a half-hour walk.More interestingly, the researchers measured blood sugar for the study participants for the next 24 hours and found both groups had improved ability to control blood sugar, an important measure of metabolic health.
In fact, the bathers’ peak blood sugar levels after eating were about 10% lower than the peak blood sugar for the cyclists, which shows promise for using “passive heating” as a means of helping control metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes.
The bathers also experienced an anti-inflammatory response similar to the effect seen in people after they exercise This is significant, since people with chronic disease tend to have chronic inflammation.
Researchers think the key here could be proteins that help regulate blood sugar — known as heat shock proteins (HSPs). HSP levels tend to be lower in people with type 2 diabetes, and these levels tend to rise after both exercise and “passive heating.”
It’s also possible that exposing your body to heat has similar effects to cold exposure — an activation of the circulatory system that may have long-term health benefits.
This is still early stage research and the group was small and all-male, so the results still need to be validated with larger studies involving both men and women, but soaking in hot water might be helpful for people who could use the health benefits of exercise but struggle to follow a fitness regimen. (Or . . . people who like hot baths better than they like exercise.)