Soaking In Long, Hot Bath Similar In Doing Mild Exercise, Study Finds

Sitting in a hot bath also decreased inflammation levels, and showed improved metabolic health.
Sitting in a hot bath also decreased inflammation levels, and showed improved metabolic health. (Photo: Darron Birgenheier/Flickr)

Everyone enjoys a nice hot bath. But did you know that aside from being a stress buster, it could also be a gentle workout? A new study found that a long, hot bath can also work as a mild exercise.

New research from the American Physiological Society found that "hot-water immersion" or sitting long in a hot-water bath helps to reduce inflammation. It also controls blood sugar levels like exercise do, per Healthline.

Published in the "Journal of Applied Physiology," the researchers examined 10 overweight and inactive men by making them sit 102-degree water up to their neck for one hour. They took blood samples to check their inflammation, blood sugar, and insulin levels. After 10 sessions of the two-week treatment period, the examiners saw a major change.

The participants' blood sugar and insulin levels went down. Sitting in a hot bath also decreased inflammation levels, and showed improved metabolic health. These results are said to be similar to the effects of getting an exercise. Hence, hot-water immersion is as beneficial as a workout for these participants.

"Our study shows that even a single session induces a rise in markers that may positively affect health if repeated over two weeks," Christof Leicht, Ph.D., MSc, one of the study's authors and a lecturer in exercise physiology at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom. "It appears to be similar to exercise. One exercise session won't do much to fitness or health, but repeated sessions show the desired effect."

Now, if you wonder what does a hot bath has to do with inflammation, exercise also reduces the body's inflammation levels. "Each time we exercise, it seems that we are doing something good for our body at the cellular level," Suzi Hong, Ph.D., associate director of the Integrative Health and Mind-Body Biomarker Lab at the University of California San Diego said, via Elite Daily.

When you workout, your body responds to the physical stress by swelling, aching, and producing redness. Laurel Wentz, Ph.D., RD, CSSD, an assistant professor in nutrition at Appalachian State University, said that severe inflammation is just the body's normal response to high-intensity exercise.

However, extended, chronic inflammation is the continuous response that affects your whole body. It is just normal to see and feel these things after you exercise. But if you don't properly cure these symptoms, it can damage your muscles and hinder it from growing.

So here the hot bath will help. Arthritis Foundation recommended taking some time soaking in hot water and stretch your muscles to repair itself as the warmth stimulates your blood flow. You can also gently stretch the areas of your body that might be sore. You can even do light stretches when you get out of the bath.

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