Have you heard the great news about the easiest health trend you could ever imagine? Believe it or not, hot bathes have some of the same amazing health benefits as exercise and, in some instances, may exceed the advantages of working out. Check out the latest research that may have you jumping into hot bathes instead of exercise.
The premise behind the positive benefits of hot bathes instead of exercise is passive heating: that is, raising the body’s core temperature without exerting oneself with physical activity. Hot bathes and sitting in a sauna are the two primary means of achieving passive heating. The mechanism responsible for the impressive advantages of passive heating may be heat shock proteins. These molecules in cells respond to the “shock” of the change in temperature and are linked to the exercise-like health benefits of hot bathes, especially lowered blood sugar levels.
Several studies show the benefit of hot bathes as compared to exercise:
Recent research from Loughborough University reviewed stats on a small sample of men when they took a one-hour hot bath compared to doing one-hour of cycling. The results showed that the men burned 140 calories in the bath – about what they may have burned in a half-hour walk. Not bad! Cycling burned more calories, of course, but then again it was a lot harder too. Blood sugar levels were the same following the bathes and cycling but where 10% lower after eating closer to time of the bath than exercise.
Additionally, the body created an anti-inflammatory response after a hot bath, much like it does after exercise, which can be helpful in the body’s defense against illness and infection. Passive heating may also reduce chronic inflammation that is the root cause of many diseases.
Several other studies on passive heating have similar positive findings about the benefits of hot bathes, especially for the heart. They each concluded that being in a sauna or hot bath reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke among the test subjects because it lowered blood pressure levels. Further research indicated that heating elevates nitric oxide that helps blood vessels dilate. As blood vessels are more open, blood can flow freely and blood pressure improves. This is a tremendous discovery for heart disease as well as diabetes. In some cases, immersion in water showed more significant changes in blood pressure than exercise.
Much research is left to be done before we can all drop our gym memberships and lounge in hot bathes instead of exercise. However, supplementing workouts with hot bathes may help you achieve your health goals faster and with a little more relaxation.
Sources: Shape Magazine and Newsweek