A hot bath can do more than relax you
When is a bubble bath more than a bubble bath? When relaxing in one is just as good for you as a 30-minute walk.
Researchers studied this theory with two groups: One group rode a bike for an hour, while the other took a one-hour bath in 104-degree water.
The goal: Raise the body’s core temperature by one degree. Unsurprisingly, the bike riders burned many more calories in reaching the goal. But researchers discovered that relaxing in the hot bath burned 130 calories, roughly the same amount burned during a 30-minute walk.
Researchers also discovered:
- The blood sugar of all the study’s participants was tracked for 24 hours after the tests. Peak blood sugar was about 10 percent lower when a bath was taken instead of the bike ride.
- The bath had a similar anti-inflammatory response post-activity for each of the participants as exercise. This suggests that passive heating (er, doing nothing in a hot bath for an hour) can help reduce inflammation.
Passive heating as a medical treatment is a relatively new idea in the United States (though it is popular in Finland). But a 2015 JAMA study found spending time in saunas—also passive heating—may help folks avoid cardiovascular disease.
There is one caveat: All of the study participants in the biking versus bathing study were men. Since our bodies can act in vastly different ways, it’s unknown if the results for women would’ve been the same.
But, ladies, that doesn’t mean you should choose a workout over a warm bath. A good long soak can do wonders for your mental well-being.