Researchers from the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine at the University of Loughborough in the United Kingdom have found that men who take a one hour bath in 40-degree Celsius water can shed as many as 130 calories, which is approximately the same as a 30-minute walk. These researchers found that lying in a hot bath and relaxing can be as beneficial and healthy for you as a 30-minute walk.
The researchers had 14 men in this study and had them perform a one-hour bicycle ride followed by a one hour bath in water that was approximately 40C. While the one-hour bike ride burned more calories, the researchers found that the relaxing bath could burn as many as 130 calories due to the increase in body temperature. The goal of this experiment was to raise the body temperature by one-degree Celsius over an hour.
The researchers at Loughborough University wanted to see the effects of a hot bath on blood sugar control which is an integral part of the metabolism of the human body. Thus, the researchers examined the study participant’s blood sugar levels 24 hours after each experiment.
They found that the overall blood sugar response was extremely similar between men who just cycled and men who cycled and then took a hot bath. However, peak blood sugar was about 10 percent lower when the men took a hot bath for an hour after they exercised.
Researchers concluded that ‘passive heating’ helps in reducing inflammation and in Finland, it is used as a form of medical treatment. A 2015 study done in Finland found that men who visited saunas frequently showed a reduced risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. The next year, the University of Oregon concluded that regular hot baths can help lower blood pressure.
The lead author of the study, Steve Faulkner, said: ‘many cultures swear by the benefits of a hot bath. But only recently has science begun to understand how passive heating (as opposed to getting hot and sweaty from exercise) improves health.’
The researchers in the study concluded that heat shock proteins (HSPs) are the reason for the blood sugar regulation. Heat shock proteins have been found to be lower in people with type 2 diabetes and after some exercise and ‘passive heating,’ these heat shock proteins tend to increase which help with controlling one’s blood sugar levels.