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Summer, it seems, is officially over, and we’re into Coat Weather. The nights are drawing in, and we’re replacing lounging in the sun with cosy nights indoors.
At Sanctuary, we know that a bathroom can be more than just a place to get clean – it’s a place to improve your health and happiness. Earlier this year, we looked at the health benefits of singing in the shower.
Now, with winter well on the way, we’ve been thinking about the therapeutic properties of a good bath. We’re of the opinion that nothing creates a warm, cosy winter feeling better than a bath. On top of the well-known benefits for your skin, there are all sorts of ways a hot bath improves your health and wellbeing.
We’ve assembled a short guide to show you just what a good soak can do:
Several studies have linked having hot baths to better heart health.
Researchers from Ehime University in Japan found that people who took five baths a week were less likely to have fatty deposits building up in their arteries, which is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.
Hot baths are also known to reduce blood pressure – it’s how your body reacts when your temperature rises.
One study found that sitting in a hot bath for an hour burns as many calories as a half-hour walk. The researchers measured the overall effect on blood sugar levels, and they found that bathing significantly reduced them.
This is good news both in the short term – most of us would like an easy way to burn more calories – and in the long term: lower blood sugar levels mean you have less risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
A hot bath raises your body temperature, and body temperature is closely linked to the circadian rhythm, which controls your sleep cycles. As your body cools off following a bath, your heart and breathing rates slow, which prepares your body to sleep.
Having a hot bath about an hour before you plan to go to bed is a great way to prepare your body for sleep.
A study by the University of Wolverhampton found that simply being horizontal in water is good for your mood, too. The researchers concluded it’s because we associate being horizontal with relaxation and vulnerability, probably because the conditions are like those in the womb.
Studies have also found that warm baths reduce feelings of social isolation.
Regular hot baths are great for fending off colds. Just half an hour spent sitting in the tub can stop the cold virus in your nose from reproducing.
This is mainly because baths raise your body temperature, and there’s plenty of research out there to suggest that cold germs spread more at lower temperatures. It’s also because the steam clears out the nasal passages, and because warmth makes your immune system work harder.
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