Can a Hot Bath Deliver the Same Results as Exercise?

Can a Hot Bath Deliver the Same Results as Exercise?

There’s perhaps no better elixir than soaking in warm water after a long day. Many of us can attest to the relaxing benefits of unwinding with a hot bath, but did you know it can also help improve your health?

Most ancient cultures have long believed in the healing effects of water. Similar to mindfulness, the Japanese practice of engaging in public baths known as “sento” is used as a way of cleansing both the body and the mind. While we don’t have public baths in the States, we may be able to get the benefits in the privacy of our own homes. In fact, in a modern Japanese home, this is known as “furo.”

That’s right, your own bathtub may be key to literally washing your pain away.

Hot water is healing with passive heating
The therapeutic ritual of bathing culture in Japaninvolves more than just cleansing yourself of physical dirt. From “onsens,” or natural hot springs, to sentos(public baths) and furos (private baths), soaking in these healing waters are a way of purifying from the day-to-day spiritual grime.

“Your skin releases endorphins in response to the soothing warm water the same way that endorphins are released when you feel the sun on your skin,” says Dr. Bobby Buka, a dermatologist based in New York. He explains that submerging ourselves in hot water can be both therapeutic and reinvigorating because blood flow increases to the skin.

A warm bath can also improve breathingTrusted Source. The temperature of the water and pressure on your chest increases your lung capacity and oxygen intake. A growing body of research has shown that passive heating, like spending time in a sauna, can also reduce the risk of having a heart attackTrusted Source, improve blood sugar controlTrusted Source, and even help lower your blood pressureTrusted Source.

In one eye opening study published earlier this year, researchers collected data from 14 participants and found that soaking in an hourlong hot bath burned as many calories (around 140) as a 30-minute walk. This is because the warm water makes your heart beat faster, giving it a healthy work out. They also found positive anti-inflammatory and blood sugar responses which can protect against illness and infection.

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