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Hot Baths And Saunas Are Just As Good As Exercising, Study Says

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Hot Baths And Saunas Are Just As Good As Exercising, Study Says

New research suggests that saunas and hot baths could mimic many of the same health benefits as exercise.

The research, from Coventry University, has found that "heat therapies" are actually valuable when it comes to raising the core body temperature and improving fitness levels by lowering blood pressure and improving control of blood sugar levels.

They've also been proven to reduce inflammation, although they still cannot be relied upon when it comes to weight loss or improving muscle mass.

Charles Steward, an author on the study, said the findings would be significant for those who can't get out of the house, or are unable to exercise.

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Hot baths and saunas are actually good for us (Credit: Unsplash)
Hot baths and saunas are actually good for us (Credit: Unsplash)

He told The Times: "The term 'exercise is medicine' is rightfully well publicised. It's one of the best ways to stay healthy, yet medicine doesn't work if you aren't prepared to take it.

"Exercise adherence is very poor, with many people unwilling to exercise due to lack of time and motivation. For those who are older or have chronic diseases, exercise can also cause pain, which for obvious reasons limits exercise further."

This is particularly important as in the UK, only 42 per cent of women exercise for the recommended 150 minutes a week, while the same can be said for 34 per cent of men.

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And, shockingly, one death in ten deaths in the UK have been found to be linked to lifestyles that involve lack of movement.

Saunas help blood flow and reduce inflammation (Credit: Pexels)
Saunas help blood flow and reduce inflammation (Credit: Pexels)

The Coventry University research asked volunteers to spend equal amounts of time in hot tubs and cycling in order to find out the different impacts they have on the body.

While exercising used more energy, there were comparable results between how the two groups' body temperature and heart rates were affected, and ultrasounds revealed similar impacts on blood flow.

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Referencing the fact that some cultures - like Japan and South Korea - regularly benefit from hot baths and "passive heating" facilities, Steward explained: "All of these cultures - and the many other historic and current cultures for which bathing is popular - extol the health benefits of these practices. And we now know they have been right all along."

Baths and saunas don't aid weight loss, but they can help mimmick some of the other benefits of exercise (Credit: Pexels)
Baths and saunas don't aid weight loss, but they can help mimmick some of the other benefits of exercise (Credit: Pexels)

He looked at previous studies when conducting his research which also showed regular sauna users had less chance of developing fatal heart disease and weren't as likely to get dementia.

Not only that, heat therapy could be an antidepressant, too, according to some research - although the results aren't conclusive.

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"On the basis that cardiovascular disease is primarily caused by diseases of the artery, it's probable that improvement in blood vessel health - which we now know occurs with regular heat therapy - is a large reason for the reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease," Steward said.

Time for a hot bath, we think!

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: Science, Life, health news, Health

Joanna Freedman
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