A new study says that an hour-long hot bath can contribute to boosting metabolic health and create an anti-inflammatory response similar to exercise.
“Many cultures swear by the benefits of a hot bath,” writes Steve Faulkner, lead author of the study, in The Conversation. “But only recently has science began to understand how passive heating (as opposed to getting hot and sweaty from exercise) improves health.”
According to Business insider:
For the study, the researchers recruited 14 men and assigned them to either an hour of moderate cycling or an hour-long soak in a 104-degree bath. (Because the group was small and all-male, the results still need to be validated with larger studies involving both men and women, but this is a starting point.)
Unsurprisingly, the cyclists burned more calories, but bathers still burned about 140 calories on average — about what they would have used on a half-hour walk. More interestingly, the researchers measured blood sugar for the study participants for the next 24 hours and found the two groups both had improved ability to control blood sugar, an important measure of metabolic health.
In fact, the bathers’ peak blood sugar levels after eating were about 10% lower than the peak blood sugar for the cyclists, which shows promise for using “passive heating” as a means of helping control metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes.
The bathers also experienced an anti-inflammatory response similar to the effect seen in people after they exercise, which is also promising, since people with chronic disease tend to have chronic inflammation.