We all know that taking a bath can be a great way to relieve stress, but now scientists have found evidence that it could have cardiovascular benefits akin to taking a 30-minute walk.
First, the obvious, it’s not in anyone’s best interests to completely replace being active with sitting around in the tub. Sorry to be a buzzkill.
But how nice would it be after an exhausting day to sit in the bathtub with a good book, knowing that you weren’t completely neglecting your health?
Not everyone has a bathtub in their house or even enjoys baths – and that’s ok, this particular study is not for them.
But bath-takers rejoice!
Researchers at Loughborough University conducted the study – although we have a gripe that they only did it on a small sample of all men, who have different physiology than women – in order to see what would happen when they raised a person’s core body temperature by one degree.
And it turns out that heating you up does burn calories! The men who sat in a hot (104 degrees Fahrenheit – which sounds really hot, but is less scalding than you think – after all, it wasn’t torture) bath for 1 hour burned 130 calories. That’s as many as they burned taking a 30-minute walk.
Other people in the study were asked to ride a stationary bicycle for an hour. It’s no surprise that they burned a lot more calories doing that.
While the study was only conducted on men, previous studies had only been done on rodents, so at least we’re moving closer to useful results! It was also small and preliminary (good studies should involve hundreds or thousands of subjects), but it was done at a National Center for Sports and Medicine at a major university in the U.K. by experts in human physiology.
The study was conducted because scientists knew that people who need to lose weight often don’t adhere to exercise programs, so they were looking for other, more passive ways, to help people them burn calories.
It’s not that they wanted to give people an easy out when it came to skipping exercise, but rather that they know some people have medical conditions, disabilities, and schedules that simply don’t allow for the weekly recommended dose of exercise.
The participants were also sedentary and were not active bath-takers or sauna users, so just about any change in habit could account for burning calories in this case.
While the headlines would love to have you believe that you can ditch your daily walk for a tub soak, that’s just not the case. However, this is good news for those who don’t exercise.
And it’s important to remember that hot baths can actually do a lot of other good things for our bodies too.
Warming up at night in a hot bath can help your body get to sleep (and we all know how important a good night’s sleep is!), it can help naturally ease sinus pain and congestion, soothe sore muscles, and even increase blood flow.
And a study last year showed that bathing reduced fatigue, stress, and pain better than showers did (and that study DID involve women!).
So if you have the time and the hot water to spare, it certainly can’t hurt to treat yourself to a bath every now and then! Whether you grab a good book, buy a nice bath oil, light a candle, or turn on some relaxing music, chances are you’ve earned some time to yourself.