According to UK-based researchers from the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine, you can burn approximately 130 calories by taking a one-hour bath, which equals the average calorie burn after a 30-minute walk. According to this study, lying in a hot bath can contribute to your weight loss journey as much as a light round of physical activity.
The researchers had 14 men in this study and had them perform a one-hour bicycle ride followed by a one-hour bath in water that was approximately 40C. While the one-hour bike ride burned more calories, the researchers found that the relaxing bath could burn as many as 130 calories due to the increase in body temperature. The goal of this experiment was to raise the body temperature by one degree Celsius over an hour.
According to The Conversation, the researchers at Loughborough University wanted to see the effects of a hot bath on blood sugar control, which is an integral part of the metabolism of the human body. Thus, the researchers examined the study participant’s blood sugar levels 24 hours after each experiment.
They found that the overall blood sugar response was extremely similar between men who just cycled and men who cycled and then taken a hot bath. However, peak blood sugar was about 10 percent lower when the men took a hot bath for an hour after they exercised.
Researchers concluded that ‘passive heating’ helps in reducing inflammation, and in Finland, it is used as a form of medical treatment. A 2015 study done in Finland found that men who visited saunas frequently showed a reduced risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. The next year, the University of Oregon concluded that regular hot baths could help lower blood pressure.
In an interview done with The Conversation, the lead author of the study, Steve Faulkner, said: ‘Many cultures swear by the benefits of a hot bath. But only recently has science begun to understand how passive heating (as opposed to getting hot and sweaty from exercise) improves health.’
The researchers in the study concluded that heat shock proteins (HSPs) are the reason for the blood sugar regulation. Heat shock proteins have been found to be lower in people with type 2 diabetes, and after some exercise and ‘passive heating,’ these heat shock proteins tend to increase, which helps with controlling one’s blood sugar levels.
It may sound too good to be true, but there is valid scientific proof that hot baths contribute to burning body fat. Hot water might not directly remove fat, but it can significantly speed up the process of weight loss and reduce inflammation in your body.
When the body temporarily reaches a temperature higher than regular, it can burn more calories. In order to handle the produced additional heat, the body puts more effort into maintaining the internal temperature levels, leading to fat burning. As the body faces external stress in the form of hot water, it produces heat shock proteins that accelerate the calorie-burning process.
Apart from fat burning and weight loss, taking regular hot baths or simply relaxing for a longer time in hot water has various benefits for our skin, muscle, and joint health. When it comes to the anti-inflammatory response you can experience after a long hot bath, this pleasant everyday activity seems to affect the human body in a similar way to exercise. Studies have shown that our blood sugar levels can drop up to 10 percent lower a day after spending one hour in hot water.
In a fast-paced world where the majority of people spend eight hours on an office chair and complete most tasks with a few clicks of a button, it’s easy to explain the popularization of a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, we need to come up with alternative strategies for promoting healthy behaviors that align with people’s deep-rooted habits.
Apart from being a great self-care routine, hot baths and saunas can improve our overall health and affect our bodies in a way similar to exercise. Throughout history, various cultures and communities around the world have employed hot water in their therapy methods. Nowadays, the effects of taking regular hot baths are more than anecdotal, as many scientists confirm this routine’s benefits for our health.
In the last few years, researchers have proven the wide range of health benefits we can reap from bathing in a hot tub or visiting a sauna. Staying in hot water for a while contributes to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. In case you aim for weight loss, researchers confirm that prolonged immersion in hot water can have the same effects on your body as aerobic exercise. Some experts recommend staying in a hot tub heated to around 40C (104F) for considerable results in terms of calorie burn.
Recent findings suggest that bathing in a hot tub or going to a regular sauna can bring some similar results in your weight loss journey to those of low to moderate exercise routines, such as walking, cycling, or jogging. Yes, you read that right - although physical activity is usually regarded as tiring and hot bathing sessions are associated with relaxation, the two have more similar effects than you would guess.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean you should view hot baths and saunas as a complete substitute for physical activities. Combined with light exercise, these activities will give you the results you always wanted.