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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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