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10 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Taking a Bath

10 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Taking a Bath

Bathing has a long and detailed history. Submerging ourselves in water, whether in a bathing receptacle or in a natural body of water is something we do for both personal hygiene, leisure and health. There is nothing more enjoyable than going for a swim in the ocean on a warm day or having a hot fragrant bath in the cooler months.

Hydrotherapy has been practiced for centuries. Both the use of hot and cold water can have beneficial effects on the body. Boiling water can be sourced naturally from a hot spring and many places like New Zealand and Iceland have naturally occurring hot pools that people can utilize to take advantage of the mineral rich waters. Similarly, cryotherapy or taking ice baths, can help to alleviate muscle strain and many athletes including runners will submerge themselves in freezing waters to counteract the damage or strain induced by exercise.

Regardless of the temperature, the benefits of taking a bath have been scientifically proven and can ensure optimal health of the mind and body.

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Here are 10 scientifically proven health benefits of taking a bath:

Bathing can improve heart health

Although bathing in high temperatures can put unnecessary strain on your heart, especially if you have a pre-existing heart condition, taking a warm bath will make your heart beat faster and can give it a healthy work out. This can improve circulation around the body and to the extremities as it makes the blood less viscous and the vessels function better. In people without prior heart disease and who are otherwise healthy, a warm bath can lower your blood pressure and improve cardiac function.

Taking a bath may help you to breathe easier

Being immersed in water past your chest with your head out, can have a good influence on your lung capacity and oxygen intake. There are two factors that contribute to this; the temperature of the water and the pressure the water places on your chest and lungs. When the water is warmer and your heart is beating faster, your oxygen intake can be improved and the steam created can clear your sinuses and chest. Immersion in colder water such as taking a swim in a natural body of water or an unheated pool, can help to reduce the risk of infection in people who suffer from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Studies on prepubescent girls have shown that swimming can improve lung growth and capacity due to the resistance it provides and the breathing techniques that are required for stamina. You are required to take longer and deeper rhythmic breaths, which improve the strength and capacity of your lungs.

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Your brain and nervous system can benefit from bathing

Submergence in water can reduce pain and inflammation and also calm the nervous system, reducing the levels of stress and anxiety in the body and improving your mood. Hydrotherapy can help people who suffer from multiple sclerosis as the temperature and pressure of the water gently relieves the spine of pain and discomfort. By providing postural stability, water can alleviate symptoms associated with such conditions as Parkinson’s Disease, providing the patient with some relief and a better quality of life.

Bathing can benefit your muscles, joints and bones

Stretching and moving in water has been shown to be low impact on the joints, muscles and bones, but very effective in providing an adequate workout through resistance. There is also less chance of injury for people who are at risk of falls, which makes aquatic exercise ideal for the elderly. Taking a spa can alleviate some of the discomfort of conditions such as osteoarthritis, without any adverse effects or exacerbation of symptoms.

Improve your gastrointestinal health through bathing

The heat of a warm bath can alleviate pain associated with hemorrhoids or anal fissures. The temperature can cause the sphincter to relax and help to heal wounds following surgery. Although warm baths aren’t advised immediately after eating, taking baths will improve your blood circulation, which can aid digestion generally. In fact, a recent independent study has shown that bathing may reduce sugar levels in the blood, which could help people who suffer from diabetes to manage their weight better.

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Bathing can progress the natural birthing process and improve health of the urinary system

It is well documented that women in the first stages of labor can maximize relaxation and minimize pain when immersed in a warm bath. This can then allow them to focus on birthing their babies and progressing their labor. There are no adverse effects to both mother and baby from being immersed in water during labor and after the baby is born. In some cultures, post natal bathing in herbs and essential oils have also contributed to the healing process of both the body and the mind. While regular bathing can present an increased risk of urinary tract infections, particularly for repeat sufferers, warm baths can aid internal urethral sphincter relaxation, which alleviates pain following surgery and can accelerate the healing process from episiotomy or birth related tearing.

Take care of your blood and immunity with a bath

Not only does a warm bath make the blood flow easier, it also makes it more oxygenated by allowing you to breathe deeper and slower, particularly when taking in steam. Taking a hot bath or spa can kill bacteria and improve immunity. It can relieve the symptoms of cold and flu. Research has shown that cold water submergence can improve cell damage and decrease the risk of necrosis, reducing the risk and survival rate of some cancers.

Balance your hormones by bathing

Conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and some fertility issues can be assisted by bathing in colder temperatures. Hormones released by the pituitary gland such as adrenocorticotropic hormone or ACTH and other hormones such as beta endorphin and cortisol can become more balanced. Alternatively, warm water bathing can increase levels of serotonin, which is the chemical produced by the brain associated with happiness and well being.

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Bathing cleanses and moisturizes your skin, hair and eyes

Exposure to fluid through bathing and steaming is a great way to ensure hydration of the body in all aspects. The human body is made mostly of water and that is why we are encouraged to drink plenty of it. But soaking in it is also extremely beneficial. We can enhance this by adding certain oils or salts to a bath or bathing in a natural body of water or pool, rich in naturally occurring minerals. Hot water opens our pores and causes us to sweat, which is the body’s natural way of cleansing itself. Similarly, cold water can tighten our skin and reduce sweating and open pores, whilst still providing optimal hydration.

Your core body temperature will be optimal through bathing

There is no quicker and more pleasant way to regulate your body temperature than through bathing. On a cold day, taking a hot bath or spa is sure to warm you up. Going for a cold ocean swim in the height of summer is undeniably the best way to cool off.

Evidence has shown that bathing, whether in cold or hot water; at home in a vessel or out in a natural body of water can have many health benefits without adverse effects. However, it is advised that a health professional is consulted if pre-existing health conditions or diseases are present before embarking on any form of hydrotherapy.

Featured photo credit: Beauty Blvd. via beautyblvd.net

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Diane Koopman

Writer, Author, Novelist, Self-Publisher

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Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

There are many reasons why people might scream – they’re angry, scared, or in pain (or maybe they’re in a metal band!). Some might say that screaming is bad, but here’s why science says it’s good for you.

“For the first time in the history of psychology there is a way to access feelings, hidden away, in a safe way and thus to reduce human suffering. It is, in essence, the first science of psychotherapy.” — Dr. Arthur Janov

Primal Therapy

Dr. Arthur Janov invented Primal Therapy in the late 1960’s. It is a practice that allows the patient to face their repressed emotions from past trauma head on and let those emotions go. This treatment is intended to cure any mental illness the patient may have that surfaced from this past trauma. In most cases, Primal Therapy has lead Dr. Janov’s patients to scream towards the end of their session, though it was not part of the original procedure. During a group therapy session that was at a standstill, Dr. Janov says that one of his patients, a student he called Danny, told a story that inspired him to implement a technique that he never would have thought of on his own.

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How it Started

“During a lull in our group therapy session, he told us a story about a man named Ortiz who was currently doing an act on the London stage in which he paraded around in diapers drinking bottles of milk. Throughout his number, Ortiz is shouting, ‘Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!’ at the top of his lungs. At the end of his act he vomits. Plastic bags are passed out, and the audience is requested to follow suit.”

It doesn’t end there, though. Dr. Janov said that his patient was quite fascinated with that story, and that alone moved him to suggest something even he believed to be a little elementary.

“I asked him to call out, ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ Danny refused, saying that he couldn’t see the sense in such a childish act, and frankly, neither could I. But I persisted, and finally, he gave in. As he began, he became noticeably upset. Suddenly he was writhing on the floor in agony. His breathing was rapid, spasmodic. ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ came out of his mouth almost involuntarily in loud screeches. He appeared to be in a coma or hypnotic state. The writhing gave way to small convulsions, and finally, he released a piercing, deathlike scream that rattled the walls of my office. The entire episode lasted only a few minutes, and neither Danny nor I had any idea what had happened. All he could say afterward was: ‘I made it! I don’t know what, but I can feel.’”

Delving deeper

Dr. Janov says he was baffled for months, but then he decided to experiment with another patient with the same method, which lead to a similar result as before. The patient started out calling “Mommy! Daddy!” then experienced convulsions, heavy breathing, and then eventually screamed. After the session, Dr. Janov says his patient was transformed and became “virtually another human being. He became alert… he seemed to understand himself.”

Although the initial intention of this particular practice wasn’t to get the patient to scream, more than once did his Primal Therapy sessions end with the patient screaming and feeling lighter, revived, and relieved of stresses that were holding them down in life.

Some Methods To Practice Screaming

If you want to try it out for yourself, keep reading!

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  • Step 1: Be Alone — Be alone. If you live in a place that you can’t be alone, it might be a good idea to talk to your family or roommates and explain to them what you’re about to do and make sure they’re okay with it. If you’re good to go, move on to step 2.
  • Step 2: Lie Down — Lie down on a yoga mat on your back and place a pillow underneath your head. If you don’t own a yoga mat, you can use a rug or even a soft blanket.
  • Step 3: Think — Think of things that have hurt you or made you angry. It can be anything from your childhood or even something that happened recently to make yourself cry, if you’re not already crying or upset. You could even scream “Mommy! Daddy!” just like Dr. Janov’s patients did to get yourself started.
  • Step 4: Scream — Don’t hold anything back; cry and scream as loud as you can. You can also pound your fists on the ground, or just lie there and scream at the top of your lungs.

After this, you should return your breathing to a normal and steady pace. You should feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off of you. If not, you can also try these other methods.

Scream Sing

Scream singing” is referring to what a lot of lead singers in metal or screamo bands will do. I’ve tried it and although I wasn’t very good at it, it was fun and definitely relieved me of any stress I was feeling from before. It usually ends up sounding like a really loud grunt, but nonetheless, it’s considered screaming.

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  • Step 1 — Bear down and make a grunting sound.
  • Step 2 — Hiss like a snake and make sure to do this from your diaphragm (your stomach) for as long as you can.
  • Step 3 — Breathe and push your stomach out for more air when you are belting notes, kind of like you would if you were singing.
  • Step 4 — Try different ways to let out air to control how long the note will last, just make sure not to let out too much air.
  • Step 5 — Distort your voice by pushing air out from your throat, just be careful not to strain yourself.
  • Step 6 — Play around with the pitch of your screams and how wide your mouth is open – the wider your mouth is open, the higher the screams will sound. The narrower or rounder your mouth is (and most likely shaped like an “o”), the lower the screams will sound.
  • Step 7 — Start screaming to metal music. If you’re not a huge metal fan, it’s okay. You don’t have to use this method if you don’t want to.

If you want a more thorough walkthrough of how to scream sing, here’s a good video tutorial. If this method is too strenuous on your vocal chords, stop. Also, make sure to stay hydrated when scream singing and drink lots of water.

Scream into a pillow

Grab a pillow and scream into it. This method is probably the fastest and easiest way to practice screaming. Just make sure to come up for air.

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Always remember to make sure that you’re not going to disturb anyone while practicing any of these methods of screaming. And with that, happy screaming!

Featured photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via flickr.com

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