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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

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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