The Health Benefits of Hot Baths
Living in Japan has taught me many things: from being more mindful, staying humble, or taking small steps to achieve big goals.
One of my favorite (self-care) lessons that I learned in Japan is that taking hot baths — ideally every day — is a gamechanger for body, mind, and soul:
Physical benefits of hot baths:
Taking warm or hot baths can help to improve your sleep
According to research, taking warm baths bevor going to bed can help you to fall asleep faster and improve your quality of sleep.
However, I suggest experimenting with nighttime baths during the weekend before trying it on weeknights. Everybody reacts differently to bathing: while some people can sleep right after taking a bath, others sleep better when taking a bath 2–3 hours before bedtime.
Hot baths can boost your metabolism
While hot baths can’t make up for regular exercise and a healthy diet, they might complement your weight loss efforts. Recent research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology has shown that soaking in hot water can accelerate metabolism and thus aid weight loss.
Another study from Loughborough University found that soaking in hot water for 60 minutes (not recommend!) can burn around 140 calories.
Warm baths can support the recovery process after strenuous workouts
Exercise causes micro-tears within the muscle fibers. This leads to inflammation and the accumulation of metabolic waste. Warm baths increase blood circulation, which helps the body to flush out toxins and thus speed up the recovery process.
Apart from that, the increase in circulation can support the healing process of joint and muscle injuries.
Heat therapy can improve cardiovascular health
According to a study published in the journal of physiology suggests that heat therapy, e.g., through taking hot baths, can decrease blood pressure and improve arterial stiffness.
However, if you suffer from high blood pressure or any other cardiovascular condition, it’s important to check in with your doctor if any type of heat therapy is suitable for you.
Mental health benefits of (hot) baths
Warm baths can help to reduce stress
Taking a bath is the perfect time for self-care and digital detox. There is nothing more relaxing than leaving your phone outside of the bathroom and sinking into a warm bath.
One reason for the calming effect is that being surrounded by warm water activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the body’s relaxation response.
Hot baths can help to alleviate depression
According to a German study, hot baths with a temperature of approximately 40 degrees Celsius can help to improve depressive symptoms and sleep quality. The most exciting news of the study: participants showed improvement of symptoms after only 4 treatments.
How to take a bath?
According to Sebastian Kneipp (1821 to 1897), who was one of the forefathers of hydrotherapy, the ideal bath temperature for warm baths is around 98–100 degrees Fahrenheit (37–38 degrees Celsius). He also recommends a duration of 15–20 minutes for a full bath. If you want to take hot or longer baths, it might be a good idea to check in with your healthcare practitioner first.
To further enhance the health benefits of your warm bath, you can add essential oils such as lavender (relaxing) rosemary (improved circulation) or menthol (for sore joints).
To avoid skin irritation, you can mix the essential oils with a so-called carrier-oil, (e.g., jojoba, coconut, or almond) or bath salt (e.g., Dead Sea salt or Himalayan) before adding them to the water.
In good health,
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