In the age of the Internet, people will make any wild claim for a few clicks. We’ve had to learn the hard way that anything that sounds too good to be true, most likely is too good to be true. That’s why when we saw the headlines popping up that a hot bath could be equivalent to exercise, we weren’t too hopeful that there was any scientific backing to this “too good to be true” headline. Many of us rejoice to hear that your evening soak, a moment of relaxation, is actually burning calories. Before you cancel your gym membership, we dive into this newly released research and analyze the study to determine its validity.
Loughborough University conducted the study so elegantly titled, “The effect of passive heating on heat shock protein 70 and interleukin-6: A possible treatment for metabolic disease?”
Fourteen males volunteered to participate in the study and were split into two groups: lean and overweight. All participants were deemed healthy, non-smokers but were habitually inactive, defined as less than 1 ½ hours of structured physical activity per week. The volunteers were to visit the laboratory for three different sessions. A preliminary session consisted of initial measures including blood profile, body composition and oxygen uptake tests and visits two and three involving warm water immersion and 60 minutes of cycling at a fixed-rate of metabolic heat production. After the volunteer completed either the warm water immersion or the warm bath, the same measures were taken again immediately after and a third time, two hours after.
The results showed that taking an hour-long bath at a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit will burn approximately 140 calories, yielding approximately the same results as a half-hour walk. Cycling resulted in more calories being burned compared with a hot bath, but bathing resulted in about as many calories being burned as a half-hour walk (around 140 calories).
The researchers measured blood sugar for the study participants for the next 24 hours and found the two groups both had improved ability to control blood sugar, an important measure of metabolic health. In fact, the bathers’ peak blood sugar levels after eating were about 10% lower than the peak blood sugar for the cyclists, which shows promise for using “passive heating” as a means of helping control metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes. The bathers also experienced an anti-inflammatory response similar to the effect seen in people after they exercise, which is also promising, since people with chronic disease tend to have chronic inflammation.
The next time you’re soaking in a steaming hot bath with a glass of wine and some relaxing music, you can close your eyes and imagine the calories melt away.
“I love the magic of a hot bath, how time pauses and every grievance melts away.”
Have your cake and eat it too with this ultimate bath time experience
According to the Integrative Longevity Institute of Virginia (ILIV), research supports the benefit of tea because of its many antioxidant and antimicrobial qualities.
According the ILIV website, “Since the skin is the largest organ in the body, a ‘tea bath’ allows the body to absorb the tea and its beneficial nutrients much quicker than you could obtain by drinking tea.”
Add about five or six packets of tea to your bath and you’ll be exercising and detoxifying as you relax. A true heaven on earth experience.
“The idea is to combine certain teas and/or herbs that can be simmered and steeped for about 15 minutes and then add these to your bath water. You can put your teas/herbs in a small bag, made from cheesecloth or you can put them directly in a pan with water but you will want to strain the tea leaves through cheesecloth before adding to the bathtub. Bring the tea to a boil and then cover and allow the tea to seep for about 15 minutes.”