Taking a hot bath several times a week has been shown in a study to possibly reduce your risk for blood pressure and diabetes.
These findings came from a cohort study of 1,300 individuals in three different bathing groups—those who took a hot bath less than one, from one to four, and four or more, times a week.
Consistent with other findings based on the therapeutic benefits of extreme heat, the European Association for the Study of Diabetes collected measurements like blood pressure, body mass, and blood tests, and found that those with a higher frequency of bathing saw decreases in body weight, diastolic blood pressure, and glycated hemoglobin (a marker of blood sugar).
The highest average risk reductions were observed in those who bathed four or more times a week for a mean duration of 16 minutes, and the improvements in blood pressure and blood sugar were observed in adults regardless of weight, age, sex, or medications taken.
“Heat therapy, shown here with hot tub bathing, can be one effective therapeutic option for type 2 diabetes in daily life. An alternative form of heat exposure might be nutrition therapy and exercise,” noted Hisayuki Katsuyama, MD, in a report with Medscape news.
Heat shock therapy
One of the reasons heat therapy, as Katsuyama pointed out, can produce positive results with diabetes is that as blood moves from your core to your skin to facilitate sweating in the hot environment of a Jacuzzi or a hot bath, your heart starts to beat faster—up to 150 beats per minute, which is about the same as moderate intensity exercise.
Since exercise is an all-cause mortality mitigator, it’s no surprise the similar physiological effect would be beneficial for such significant morbidity factors like high-blood pressure, or diabetes.
These two conditions, along with a host of others, were improved with another form of therapeutic heat—saunas.
A Finnish sauna session was found to increase heart-rate variability, which is indicative of the heart’s capacity to react strongly under stressful conditions. Long-term sauna use was also found to improve left-ventricular function and blood pressure.
Finnish saunas when used a similar number of times per week were also found to decrease the risk of death for stroke, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease by around 46%.
Sauna and hot water bathing can reduce your risk for all manner of heart-related diseases, possibly because it mimics exercise. In any case, if you’re the person who likes a hot bath before bed, you’re likely benefiting in ways you could never have imagined.