There are days when we’d much rather have a bath filled to the brim with bubbles than get our butt to the gym. Luckily, a soak may produce similar health benefits to your spin class.
A study, published in the journal Temperature, found that an hour-long hot bath had the same effects on blood sugar levels as 60 minutes of moderate exercise. And it’s not just baths, similar results have been noted for sauna sessions, too.
This might be the best news that’s come out all year.
The study collected data from 14 male participants, each of whom was assigned to one 60-minute task: soaking in a hot bath or biking at a fixed pace. The participants’ core body temperatures and calories burned were both measured following the activity, and blood sugar levels were tracked for 24 hours.
“Cycling resulted in more calories being burned compared with a hot bath, but bathing resulted in about as many calories being burned as a half-hour walk (around 140 calories),” stated Steve Faulkner, one of the study’s researchers.
In all 14 men, blood sugar was better controlled after completing either the hot plunge or the bike ride. And those who took the 60-minute soak also saw anti-inflammatory benefits, the same as their cycling counterparts. This is promising news for anyone who suffers from illnesses and ailments related to inflammation.
“It seems that activities that increase heat shock proteins may help to improve blood sugar control and offer an alternative to exercise. These activities – such as soaking in a hot tub or taking a sauna – may have health benefits for people who are unable to exercise regularly,” Faulkner said.
We should point out that this study used a very small sample. None of the 14 people were women, so there’s certainly more research to be done before you swap your entire workout regime for a sauna or soaking session. But based on these findings, increasing the time you spend bathing doesn’t sound like a bad idea. And who wouldn’t be totally down with that?