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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 December 13, 2018

12 Practical Tips To Stay Fit For Christmas

12 Practical Tips To Stay Fit For Christmas

Christmas is approaching fast, and lots of people not only tend to ruin their usual diets, but they also gain a few extra pounds. Based on studies, the majority of people tend to gain additional weight during the holiday season that starts at the Thanksgiving Day and ends with the New Year celebrations. Excessive eating is claimed to be the main cause for the additional weight gain, but it is also due to lack of physical activity and exercise.

A lot of individuals out there tend to set aside their fitness routines during the holidays since they believe that they do not have enough time to perform their workouts. And because they feel guilty after the holiday season, most of the gyms and fitness centers are packed with fresh members. Always bear in mind that you can still enjoy the holidays and stay fit at the same time. If you want to stay fit during the holiday season, especially during Christmas and the New Year’s Eve, here are some useful tips that might help you:

1. Eat Before Heading Out

First, it is best that you eat something before heading out to visits, trips or family dinners. By doing so, you will no longer be tempted to eat a lot or overindulge yourself since you have already eaten. Skipping on meals is not a good idea either, because you will only be forced to eat more later.

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2. Select The Treats

Make sure to select the treats that you eat in a wise manner. You should choose something that you can only enjoy during the holiday season and not something that is readily available all the time.

3. Avoid Skipping Meals

Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast! Even though it can be tempting to skip on certain meals, believing that it will make up for the treats you consumed in the previous day, don’t do it because it will only lead to counterproductive results.

4. Drink With Moderation

It is best to regulate your drinking since alcohol, coke or other juices will only add more calories to the ones you already eaten!

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5. Be Active

You should still perform your fitness routine whenever possible and if you can’t do that, simply walk more, park your car some distance away from the store or just use the stairs!

6. Get Out Of The House

Make the holidays a family affair and plan outdoor activities where everyone is involved. Even a snowball fight in the backyard will burn a lot of calories and will keep the children entertained.

7. Don’t Skip Your Strength Workouts

Always remember to perform your strength training in order to maintain that muscle mass you worked hard to get. You might be tempted to use lightweights and just do some cardio, but you can burn just as many calories by lifting weights. And with all of those extra stakes you had on the holiday meals, you might even gain some extra muscle. And this is much better than gaining some extra fat.

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8. Set Realistic Goals

You should set realistic exercise objectives. Aim for at least half an hour per day and you will be very happy when you will achieve that. If you plan one hour or more and not achieve it, you will only end up disappointed.

9. Enjoy Yourself

Also make sure to set realistic diet plans! Trying to restrain yourself totally from some foods will only make you eat more. Feel free to enjoy the treats that you really love, but in small portions.

10. Drink A Lot Of Water

This can satiate your appetite as well as keep you hydrated at all times. And it will also prevent a possible hangover if you overdo it with alcohol.

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11. Eat Less And More Often

Distribute your meals evenly throughout the day, and do not eat everything at once.  Instead of having 2 enormous meals, have 5 small ones.  Eat your dinner earlier and have a nice walk before going to bed.

12. Prioritize Your Workouts

Try to do them early in the morning while everyone else is still sleeping. This way you will also avoid remarks like “Oh, come on! It’s Christmas…”

So there you go! Twelve simple tips that will help you avoid gaining weight during the winter holidays, but will also allow you to enjoy yourself and have a great time with your loved ones.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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