As a busy and very tired mama, I often struggle between choosing sleep or alone time, or working out.
It can feel like a serious dilemma knowing exercise can bring energy, but also knowing you need adequate rest.
Well, tired mamas everywhere, rejoice!
Too Tired To Work Out? A Hot Bath Burns Calories Like Exercise
This study has found you can actually burn calories while soaking in a hot bath!
Loughborough University researcher Dr. Steve Faulkner says that having a hot, relaxing bath may have health benefits like exercising.
In fact, it may even help prevent type 2 diabetes.
Does Taking A Bath Actually Burn Calories?
Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all simply soak instead of work out? Unfortunately, a soak can’t completely replace exercise. However, it does seem to have health benefits similar to exercise.
Researchers used 14 participants to monitor how increasing the core body temperature could burn calories. Each participant took an hour soak in a hot bath and also cycled for one hour.
The researchers measured the amount of calories burned to see what effects passive heating can have when compared to exercise.
While cycling did burn more calories, the hour long soak in the tub burned calories comparable with a 30 minute walk. Around 140 calories were burned after an hour long soak in a hot bath.
Perhaps an even bigger health benefit found, however, was that a hot bath impacted blood sugar levels.
Can A Hot Bath Help Reduce The Risk Of Or Treat Type 2 Diabetes?
Many countries are experiencing epidemic rates of type 2 diabetes. Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 is often related to diet and lifestyle. Even if one is predisposed to type 2 diabetes, often lifestyle and diet can still lower the risk or help manage it after a diagnosis.
The researchers found that when the body’s core temperature is raised after an hour long soak in the bath, the blood sugar is affected.
Faulkner reported, “The overall blood sugar response to both conditions was similar, but peak blood sugar after eating was about 10% lower when participants took a hot bath compared with when they exercised.”
Heat shock proteins seem to play a role in helping to regulate blood sugar levels. Exercise is an excellent way to help regulate blood sugar, but finding additional ways to manage it are important. This is especially important for people unable to exercise.
Even if you’re able to exercise, finding many ways to regulate blood sugar can lower your overall risk of developing type 2 diabetes, or help manage it after a diagnosis.
Researchers also found that these heat shock proteins impacted the bodies overall inflammation.
Is Reducing Inflammation Important?
“We also showed changes to the inflammatory response similar to that following exercise. The anti-inflammatory response to exercise is important as it helps to protect us against infection and illness, but chronic inflammation is associated with a reduced ability to fight off diseases. This suggests that repeated passive heating may contribute to reducing chronic inflammation,” Faulkner reported to The Conversation.
People with type 2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses often suffer from chronic inflammation. Finding ways to manage and reduce it can have a huge impact on their overall health, as inflammation can affect all areas of the body.
Are There Other Benefits Of A Hot Bath?
I’m certain I can find a study, but I’m sure it goes without saying that relaxation is likely a huge benefit, especially for a tired mama!
But from an evidence perspective, other studies have found hot baths, time in a sauna, etc. can have cardiovascular benefits and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Another study looked at why raising the body temperature can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events and found that it can reduce blood pressure.
One thing that’s important in the medical field is replicating results in multiple studies. This shows that there is in fact a connection between a medication, action, food, etc. and a change in the body. Another study, meant to confirm the finding above and the following was found:
“Water immersion resulted in a greater increase in body temperature compared with exercise, as well as a greater reduction in average arterial blood pressure. This is important as a reduction in blood pressure is closely associated with a reduced risk of developing heart disease…It also suggests some of the cardiovascular effects of passive heating may be comparable with those of exercise.”
Does This Mean I Don’t Need To Exercise?
As lovely as it would be to say we don’t need to exercise, being active is still important. Maintaining muscle strength, cardiovascular health, releasing endorphins, etc. are still important aspects of exercise.
This research is still important. Anything we can do to help improve our overall health is important, and can be vital for people who can’t safely exercise.
Pregnant? Be sure to read Epsom Salt Bath During Pregnancy – 4 Great Benefits to learn more about the health benefits of baths.