Hot tubs have long been considered a relaxing way to warm up on a cold Connecticut night, but the benefits go beyond increasing body temperature. Common hot tub health benefits include:
1. Relaxation and Stress Reduction
Do you feel less stressed after a warm bath? Science reveals there’s a legitimate reason why they may have a positive effect on mental wellbeing.
Research shows regular immersion bathing, such as soaking in a hot tub, is uniquely beneficial to mental health. In one study that compared showering to bathing, those who bathed experienced lower levels of fatigue, stress, and pain. Another study suggests regular hot baths could be a useful treatment for those with depression.
2. Pain Relief
Historically, warmth has been a home remedy for pain stemming from arthritis, muscle aches, and conditions like fibromyalgia.
In countries such as Japan, natural hot springs and public baths offer similar benefits. Thanks to the stress relieving characteristic of warm water immersion, hot springs and hot tubs alike can soothe and relax tight, sore muscles. Research also shows hot tubs can help to reduce swelling and inflammation of joints, a helpful tool for those who suffer from arthritis.
3. Improved Sleep
Having trouble drifting off or staying asleep? Hot tubs may help.
The reasoning is more complex than warm water helping you feel relaxed. Studies show a drop in core body temperature is a natural cue for the body to prepare for sleep. After stepping out of a hot tub, the significant drop in body temperature mimics this phenomenon, signaling to your body that it’s time to unwind.
4. Enhanced Circulation
Warm temperatures dilate (widen) blood vessels, improving the body’s circulation (flow).
The same benefit applies to soaking in a hot tub. Immersing yourself in the warm water can improve blood flow, supporting circulation to muscles and vital organs. Improved circulation means the cells in your body are able to get more of the oxygen and nutrients they need to function.
5. Muscle Recovery
Sore after a tough workout? Soaking in a hot tub might help speed your muscle recovery.
Improved circulation thanks to hot water helps your body deliver oxygen, protein, and nutrients necessary for muscle repair. While experts suggest an ice bath immediately after exercise, hot soaks are encouraged to improve circulation and healing in the days following a tough training session.
6. Respiratory Relief
Ever wonder why a hot shower helps you breathe easier when you have a cold?
Steam from a hot shower, bath, or hot tub can warm the lung’s membranes, loosening the mucous they produce. When you have a cold or sinus infection, this means you can clear mucus more easily. Hot steam also opens nasal passages, supporting deep breathing and providing respiratory relief.
7. Weight Management
Managing weight by soaking in a hot tub may sound too good to be true, but fortunately it’s not.
Research shows lounging in a hot bath for an hour burns the same number of calories as a 30 minute walk. This is big news for those with limited mobility or who are unable to exercise. Additionally, studies show the type of “passive heating” associated with soaking in a hot tub can support lowered blood sugar levels, a helpful tool for those with diabetes or metabolic disorders.
8. Improved Mood
For many people, a hot tub is a way to unwind after a long day.
Science shows using a hot tub can calm the nervous system, providing a mood boost and clearer mind. Hot water offers a rush of “happy hormones” such as dopamine and serotonin, well-known endorphins that can greatly impact mood. This same research offers evidence that immersion bathing in a place like a hot tub can improve physical and mental health as well as overall quality of life.
A Word of Caution: Always Practice Safe Hot Tub Soaking
When it comes to hot tubs, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.
Excessive or prolonged soaks in a hot tub can lead to overheating, dehydration, and other negative health outcomes. Due to these risks, it’s important to cap time in a hot tub to 15 – 20 minutes per session. Additionally, never swallow hot tub water and ensure any hot tub you enter has been properly sanitized and cared for to prevent coming into contact with harmful bacteria.
Avoid soaking in hot tubs if:
- You are pregnant.
- You have heart disease.
- You have diarrhea.
- You are under the influence of alcohol or other substances.
- You are under 5 years of age.
Consult your primary care doctor before regularly soaking in a hot tub, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking any medications.
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