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Science Says A Hot Bath Can Boost Both Your Mental And Physical Health

Science Says A Hot Bath Can Boost Both Your Mental And Physical Health

What’s not to love about a hot bath?

A warm bath is one of the best ways to relax after a long day. Any activity that soothes you on a regular basis will have a beneficial effect on your mental health, and hot baths are no exception. However, research has also demonstrated that hot baths can have a positive effect on your physical health too. Read on to discover how they can encourage your body to burn calories, balance your blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity, and detoxify itself.

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Stay in the bath longer and burn some calories

Research by physiologist Steve Faulkner suggests that increasing your body temperature could increase number of calories burned. Volunteers taking part in his research first sat in a bath for an hour until their body temperature hit an average of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. They then completed an hour-long workout on an exercise bike.

Surprisingly, just sitting in a hot bath for an hour burned 140 calories. Although this is significantly lower than the 630 burned on the exercise bike, the findings demonstrated that the bath used as many calories as a half-hour walk.

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How a bath can balance your blood sugar

Faulkner’s research also examined the effect of a hot bath and exercise on blood sugar and glucose release following a meal. Participants in his study ate the same meal first after a hot bath and secondly after an hour-long session of exercise. Lower levels of circulating blood sugar should be taken as an encouraging sign, because this suggests better insulin sensitivity, which in turn indicates a lower risk of diabetes.

Faulkner found, to his surprise, that blood glucose levels in the volunteers were lower after the bath condition. This means that a hot bath may actually have a more positive effect on blood sugar regulation than exercise. He has proposed that the reason for this may lie in Heat Shock Proteins (HSPs) released by the body during times of exposure to high temperatures. Physical stress such as inflammation and shock can trigger the release of HSPs, which cause glucose to be transported from the bloodstream to muscle tissue, thus lowering overall blood glucose levels.

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HSPs, insulin sensitivity, and diabetes prevention

Other research has demonstrated that HSPs could be beneficial in enhancing insulin sensitivity and therefore lowering the risk of diabetes. Back in 1985, researchers from the University of Kansas used an animal model to demonstrate that they act quickly on glucose and skeletal muscle, therefore lowering overall blood sugar levels.

More recently, scientists have identified that it is a specific HSP known as HSP72 that is responsible for triggering these effects. Therefore, taking regular baths or saunas may help you regulate your blood sugar levels and increase your sensitivity to insulin.

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The health benefits of sweating

A hot bath will make you sweat, which comes with its own health benefits. Sweating is a natural detoxification mechanism by which toxins are released through the surface of the skin. Mercury, lead and arsenic are just three substances that can be released through sweating, according to research. Therefore, if you cannot exercise, taking a hot bath or sauna can provide the same detoxification benefits.

It is important, however, to take precautions when using hot baths for health purposes. Remember that prolonged exposure to high temperatures can result in heatstroke or dehydration. Drink water before and after your bath to ensure that your fluid levels remain adequate. You should also take care not to scald your skin. Another risk is headaches. Some people experience this symptom after taking a long, hot bath. Applying a piece of material soaked in cool water to the forehead can encourage more rapid cooling, thus eliminating the pain.

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Jay Hill

Jay writes about communication and happiness on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 23, 2019

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

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Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

More to Help You Stay Motivated

Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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