“Hurry up before we run out of hot water!”
If your parents constantly harassed you to not waste hot water, you’re not alone. Growing up in a house with several siblings and a limited amount of hot water, meant in my home the stuff was treated like liquid gold.
And that habit of conserving hot water carried over into my adulthood. I still take quick, cool showers. And I rarely indulge in a relaxing bath.
But some new research has shown me the light. And now I’m planning to break that old habit. When you hear the details of this exciting new study, you probably will want to too.
Steamy secret to a healthy heart stuns scientists
According to research published in the journal Scientific Reports, slipping into five soothing hot baths a week could deliver some major heart benefits.
A team at Ehime University in Japan had 873 volunteers between the ages of 60 and 76 fill out a questionnaire. They asked participants about how often then indulged in a hot bath (over 105/8 degrees Fahrenheit / 41 degrees Celsius and an average of 12.4 minutes of soaking).
The researchers then assessed the heart health of the volunteers using several different tests. And they were able to gather long term data, over five years, on a group of 164 of the original participants.
And the results stunned everyone.
A hot bath could fight plaque buildup
After some careful number crunching and a bunch of data analysis, the team was able to determine that taking hot baths is associated with less plaque buildup in the arteries. In other words, regularly popping into a soothing bath could literally boost your circulation and fight heart disease.
And while this wasn’t the kind of study designed to prove cause and effect, the results make a lot of sense. Warm water naturally causes your arteries and veins to expand. This opens up more space for your blood to flow through, increasing your circulation.
And this, of course, isn’t the first time we’ve seen the health benefits of hot water proven in a lab. For example, a study conducted at Loughborough University showed that a hot bath could help with blood sugar control, boost metabolism and fight inflammation.
Lower blood sugar & inflammation with a hot bath
For the study, a group of volunteers cycled for an hour and then spent an hour soaking in a hot tub. Testing showed soaking in the bath burned about as many calories as a half hour walk. Plus when the bathers ate a meal, their peak blood sugar was about 10 percent lower than it was after exercising.
And perhaps most importantly, inflammation levels plummeted in the same way that we see after exercising. Which means that developing a hot bath habit could help fight chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Another study revealed the benefits of hot water in the form of steam. UK researchers found that folks who enjoyed a steamy sauna session four to seven times a week had an incredible 60 percent lower risk of stroke than those who popped into a steam-filled room only once a week.
Other studies have shown saunas are associated with lower blood pressure, a lower risk of dementia and a decreased risk of dying from heart disease.
Add let’s face it; there are few things more relaxing or mood elevating than a long soak in a hot bath. Or an hour spent in a steamy sauna. Both ease away aches and pains, and they make slipping off to sleep so much easier.
We don’t all have access to a sauna. But most of us do have a bathtub.
If you want to give hot bathing a try check with your doctor first, to be sure there aren’t any medical reasons you should avoid them. And then go for it. Just be sure to not make the bath water too hot or it could scald or irritate your skin.
Get even MORE healing from your hot bath
And no matter if you’re a guy or a gal you can turn your hot bath into more of a healing spa experience by adding some extras to the bath water.
A few to try…
- 2 cups of Epsom salts to fight inflammation and relax tired, achy muscles
- 1 cup of baking soda to fight itching or irritation
- 8 drops of your favorite essential oil in 1/2 cup of olive oil for relaxation
- 1 cup of finely ground oatmeal to calm dry, irritated skin
- 1-2 cups apple cider vinegar for detox and to soothe itch or irritation
No matter what mom said if you’ve been denying yourself the joys of soaking in a hot bath it’s time to stop. Do your heart, and your mood, a favor and embrace the bath starting today.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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