IF you hate running, you’ll be glad to hear that taking a hot bath may be just as beneficial for your health.
Just like going for a jog, a bath raises core body temperature and heart rate.
It is speculated this in turn boosts a number of aspects of health, and may even alleviate illnesses.
Studies have shown a regular dip is linked to lower blood pressure, blood sugar levels, inflammation and improvement in conditions like PCOS.
Using saunas – another heat therapy similar to bathing – has also been shown to slash the odds of heart disease.
But unsurprisingly, a hot steamy bath won’t help you lose fat – only exercise can do this.
However, experts say regularly bathing in hot water may be a “gateway” for people who find it hard to workout by priming their body.
Charles James Steward, a PhD Candidate at Coventry University, sees it being prescribed by doctors in the future.
Writing in the Conversation, he said: “Exercise adherence is very poor, with many people unwilling to exercise due to lack of time and motivation.
“And for those who are older or have chronic diseases, exercise can also cause pain, which for obvious reasons limits exercise further.
“There is an urgent need to find alternative strategies to improve health that people are willing to follow.”
Looking for a solution, Mr Steward has been reviewing research looking at whether a bath and workout are comparable.
“The evidence, thus far, is promising”, he said.
“Our recent review of the research found that regular sauna or hot tub bathing can indeed bring about some similar health benefits to that of low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging and cycling.”
Mr Steward has been conducting research in the lab with volunteers happy to be studied while bathing and exercising.
He said he and colleagues have found “comparable elevations in core body temperature and heart rate”.
“Both exercise and heat therapy can promote cardiovascular health by comparable improvements in fitness, blood vessel health, blood pressure and glucose levels”, Mr Steward said.
“Promisingly, there are also some encouraging signs for similar improvements in cardiac function and wall structure, as well as chronic low-grade inflammation in diseased populations.”
One study of middle-aged Finnish men revealed those who used a sauna up to seven times a week had a 50 per cent reduction in cardiovascular disease.
Their risk of dementia and all-cause mortality was also slashed.
Obese women with PCOS have gotten better after using hot-tub therapy – involving five hour sessions a week.
In most of these studies, participants were subjected to very hot temperatures for unrealistically long periods of time per week.
And doing this at home could cause you to feel dizzy and dehydrated.
But one study, by Liverpool John Moores University, showed that only a small increase in body temperature similar to a normal bath had benefits.
An increase of 0.6°C three times a week for six weeks promoted the growth of new blood vessels.
Sadly a gallon of hot water won’t do much for your waistline, however, as sitting still in water does not exercise the muscles or burn calories.
“Before you contemplate cancelling your gym membership and investing the savings in a Jacuzzi, know that regular saunas or baths are unable to replicate all the health benefits of exercise training, such as promoting fat loss and increasing muscle mass”, Mr Steward admitted.
But he said for those unable to exercise, or find it hard, “heat therapy – whether in hot tubs or saunas – could be viewed as a ‘gateway therapy’ to future exercise participation”.
“This is because heat can increase fitness and functional capacity,” he said.
Source: Read Full Article