Science Says You Can Skip Your Workout And Take A Hot Bath Instead

March 29, 2017

In case you were looking for a reason not to work out today…

Do you ever have that moment when your sneakers are all laced up and you’re about to head to the gym, and you suddenly really don’t want to go? That little voice in your head begs you kick off your shoes and curl up under the covers, and you end up having to force yourself out the door.

Next time, you might want to listen to that little voice and run a hot bath instead of running a few laps.

Diabetes researchers at Loughborough University have found that soaking for an hour in a hot bath may be just as effective at burning calories, controlling blood sugar, and lowering blood pressure as an hour of aerobic exercise. Although an hour of cycling did burn more calories than a bath, the bath burned about 140 calories – comparable to a brisk half-hour walk – and the blood sugar response was similar for both activities. Taking a bath also appeared to reduce chronic inflammation, a condition that is often present in people with Type 2 diabetes.

Steve Faulkner, PhD,  a research associate on the project, says the phenomenon of ‘passive heating’ is a relatively new field of study with exciting possibilities. “Research from Finland, published in 2015, suggested that frequent saunas can reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke – at least in men,” Faulkner writes in the scientific journal The Conversation. “The idea that passive heating can improve cardiovascular function received further support when the University of Oregon published a study the following year showing that regular hot baths can lower blood pressure.”

Another study, this one coming out of New Zealand in 2016, looked at the effects of being immersed in hot water compared with running on a treadmill. Scientists found that being in the water actually raised participants’ body temperatures more than exercise did, and was more effective at lowering their blood pressure. The study also indicates passive heating may give more of a protective effect against heart disease than exercise does.

One caveat, though: this research was done on men, not women. So maybe you should go for that run after all. But why not be on the safe side and follow it up with a nice long soak in a hot tub? Because science says so.

Image via Shutterstock.

Comment: Which do you do more often – exercise, or take hot baths?

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