No time for heart-healthy exercise? Try a hot bath

Exercise. Either you love it, or you hate it.

According to the World Health Organization, adults should participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, like power walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as playing basketball, every week.

Unfortunately, around 25 percent of adults worldwide fail to reach even this minimal level of physical activity.

Exercise is preventive medicine. It’s been shown that regular exercise can prevent heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.

The good news for those of us who just can’t seem to get moving?

There’s another, much more indulgent activity that carries a lot of the same benefits.

The benefits of a bath

Dr. Charles Steward of Coventry University believes he has found something that does a lot of what exercise does for us, only with a lot less effort.

“On first glance, comparing a hot bath or sauna to a jog might seem illogical — after all, the former tends to be seen as relaxing and the latter tiring — but they are more similar than you may think.”

Dr.Steward and his team of researchers examined volunteers who spent equal amounts of time in a hot tub and riding a bicycle.

Indeed, sitting in a hot tub or sauna won’t help you lose weight. It won’t trigger fat loss, strengthen muscles and bones, or increase your body’s ability to expend energy the way exercise will.

But the study found that passive heating provided other important benefits also produced by moderate to vigorous exercise:

  • Sitting in a hot tub increased each participant’s heart rate and core temperature.
  • Ultrasound scans revealed that it also increased blood flow through the arteries.

This mimics what happens when we engage in moderate exercises such as jogging or biking!

An increased heart rate makes your heart muscle more efficient and better able to pump blood throughout your body. This means that the heart pushes out more blood with each beat, allowing it to beat more slowly and keep your blood pressure under control.

Dr. Steward is quick to point out that a warm bath in your bathtub can be just as beneficial as a soak in a hot tub or time in a sauna. He says that the health benefits don’t depend on maintaining high core body temperatures.

He cites research at John Moores University showing that increasing core body temperature by only 0.6◦C, three times a week for six weeks, resulted in the growth of new blood vessels and increases in insulin sensitivity.

Peak Blood Flow

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No substitute for exercise

“Using hot baths or saunas shouldn’t be considered as a substitute for exercise,” says Dr. Steward. “But it can mimic some of the health benefits — and we think that when used in conjunction with exercise, it can give rise to greater health.”

Long-term weight management depends upon expending more energy than you take in, so saunas or warm baths alone won’t help much if your aim is to lose weight.

But Dr. Steward points to research showing that protection against fatal cardiovascular disease is even greater in people who exercise regularly and also take frequent warm baths, as opposed to doing one or the other.

So next time you soak those sore, post-exercise muscles in a warm bath, you can feel good knowing that you’re doing all you can to keep your heart strong and healthy.

Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!


Don’t like exercise? A hot bath may be just as good for your body — Study Finds

The health benefits of passive heating and aerobic exercise: To what extent do the mechanisms overlap? —Journal of Applied Psychology

Can’t face running? Have a hot bath or a sauna – research shows they offer some similar benefits — The Conversation

Physical activity — World Health Organization

Joint associations of sauna bathing and cardiorespiratory fitness on cardiovascular and all-cause mortality risk: a long-term prospective cohort study — Annals of Medicine

Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.