How relaxing is taking a nice hot bath after a hard day of work and stress? What if somebody told you that besides the relaxation, an hour-long soak can burn as many calories as when you take a 30-minute walk?
To spice things up, this activity can also help you improve the function of insulin, lower blood pressure, boost your immune system, and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke!
If you thought for a second that taking a hot bath can’t be that good, the scientists behind these studies will prove you otherwise.
In fact, taking a hot bath or going to the sauna is a lot more beneficial than you may have previously thought.
Steve Faulkner, a research associate at Loughborough University, has compiled some very intriguing information in an article in The Conversation, which shows just how useful some increase in the core temperature of the body can be.
In a study done by scientists at Loughborough University, 14 men were recruited to do three different activities: soaking for an hour in a 40˚C hot bath, walking, and cycling for the same amount of time.
They wanted to find out how passive heating affected the blood sugar levels and the energy expended during each of them.
It turns out that although cycling burned more calories away from the participants, soaking in hot water burned as many calories as a 30-minute walk. The bath soak also lowered the peak blood sugar levels by 10% more, compared to physical exercise and it showed a similar anti-inflammatory response to that which follows physical exercise.
The anti-inflammatory response protects us against inflection and illness and the study showed that repeated passive heating (such as taking a hot bath or going to the sauna) can reduce chronic inflammation, which often occurs with long-term diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.
This is not the first study which points to the fact that passive heating has some very positive effects on human health. In 2015, researchers in Finland found that going to the sauna often can reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.
This was later supported by the University of Oregon, where researchers confirmed the fact that regular hot baths can improve the cardiovascular function by lowering blood pressure.
When it comes to diabetes, the same research team from the University of Oregon found that passive heating contributed to the raise of the levels of nitric oxide, which is a molecule that dilates the blood vessels and reduces blood pressure.
This same molecule has been found to be present in smaller quantities among people with type 2 diabetes, and activities which passively increase the body heat can contribute to the reduction of blood pressure among these people, thanks to the same molecule.