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The Science-Backed Benefits of a Warm Bath

By Chris Brown

I am a sucker for a good, warm bath. Getting into a steaming tub after a long, cold day is the epitome of relaxation. However, unbeknownst to me, there are several scientifically proven health benefits to the occasional warm soak.

Metabolism and Weight Loss

According to a Loughborough University study, a warm bath burnt the same calories as a half-hour walk and increased metabolism by upping heart rate by 40-50 percent. The hot water also releases heat shock proteins that regulate blood sugar levels and reduce sugar cravings.   

Sleep 

Two separate studies, of athletes and infants, both found that baths allowed people to fall asleep faster and improved their sleep efficiency. Also, the skin warming effect of a good bath increased neuronal activity in sleep regulation areas of the brain.

Relaxation

A warm bath being relaxing may seem obvious, but Japanese research finds that its relaxation effect may be more scientific than subjective. When the body is placed in a heated bath, the nerves associated with the sympathetic system (used in fight or flight responses) are inhibited and the recovery-driven, calming parasympathetic nerves are activated.

Heart Health

As mentioned in the metabolism section, baths increase heart rate. This increase gives the heart a safe workout due to improved circulation, as heat thins the pumping blood. Over time, these heart workouts improve cardiovascular strength.

Breath

Having your chest under warm water ups oxygen intake and enhances your lungs' strength and capacity. Oxygen intake increases as circulating blood speeds up while the water's hot temperature helps CO2 elimination. Since you are forced to take longer, deeper breaths with the steamy, hot water on your chest, your breathing rhythm improves while the lung muscles strengthen from the water's added weight.

Illness Prevention

The humid air from hot baths can kill bacteria that may be sitting in your respiratory track. Also, the relaxing effects of baths secondarily boost immune function.

Generates Well-Being

Warm baths increase levels of circulating serotonin, a neuro-chemical known for producing happiness and the feeling of well-being.

Injury Recovery

While ice baths are common, you may also speed injury recovery with the help of hot baths. The heat from the bath loosens tight muscles and increases blood flow delivery of nutrients to the injury. In addition, a study examining baths for post-exercise muscle soreness found that they reduced strength loss, decreased soreness pain, and greatly prevented elastic tissue damage.

When combined with warm baths, chiropractic can multiply the effectiveness of sports injury recovery. The doctors at The Joint Chiropractic are on-call for walk-in patients during long night and weekend hours. Sessions are affordable without insurance so there is no reason not to visit The Joint today!

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Machesney Park, Ill.

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