The news comes out of Loughborough University in the UK, which studied a small group of adult men to determine the beneficial health effects of taking a one hour 104-degree bath compared to cycling for an hour. Unsurprisingly, they found that spinning on a bike for 60-minutes burned more overall calories, yet participants who were simply soaking in a bath ended up burning 140 calories over the course of their hour, or roughly as much as they would have if they'd gone for a half-hour walk. What's more, participants who took the hourlong bath were found to have less dramatic spikes in blood sugar after eating meals in the subsequent 24 hours when compared to those who only cycled.
Obviously, ancient and modern cultures alike have celebrated the benefits and ritualistic visiting of hot baths, but this adds credence to the notion that they're good for you. It also contributes to a growing area of research into the benefits of "passive heating" on the body as brought on by taking a hot bath or sitting in a sauna. This sort of heating has been compared to the rise in body temperature caused by prolonged physical activity, and has similarly been linked to helping improve cardiovascular functions and reducing high blood pressure. Experts suspect it may also mimic the body's anti-inflammatory response to exercise, which helps stave off infection and illness.
As promising as this news may be for the lazy among us who can't be bothered to hit the gym as frequently as we should, don't delude yourself into thinking taking a bath every day is the secret to a summer beach bod. Rather, this mostly means big things for people who'd otherwise have trouble getting out and about for a regular workout -- or are debilitated by diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, where getting regular exercise and controlling one's blood sugar are hugely important. That said, it can't hurt to swap your shower routine for bathtime a few times a week.
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