According to BBC News, Dr. Steve Faulner of England’s Loughborough University believes it is a real possibility that relaxing in a hot tub can provide some of the same benefits as one gets from exercising.
It’s long been a given that a hot bath such as in a hot tub is terrific for soothing aching muscles etc. after exercising. But in lieu of?
Dr. Faulner wanted to find out just that. He teaches at a research university, and he invited participants to take part in an experiment/study that contrasted the respective benefits of having a long soak in hot tub (or bath) against an hour of hard pedaling on a bike or exercise machine.
Participants were fitted with monitors to record their blood sugar levels as a way to measure a key number: their metabolic fitness. They were also simultaneously monitored for how many calories they burned during both activities.
So. After a long bath, each participant spent an hour sweating on a bike.
Ready for the results?
“One of the first things that we were looking at,” says Faulner, “is the energy expenditure while you’re in the bath. What we found was an 80% increase in energy expenditure just as a result of sitting in the bath for the course of an hour.”
While the participants didn’t burn as many calories hot water soaking as they did rapid cycling (140 vs 630 respectively), the 140 calories burned in a hot tub was equal to a brisk 30-minute walk. Not bad.
Now for the even better blood sugar measurements.
The monitoring showed that participants’ peak glucose levels were a bit lower after the bath than after the exercising — 10 percent lower! This is key because keeping blood sugar levels down is well known to aid the nervous system as well as one’s arteries.
And while Dr. Faulner would not go so far as to suggest eliminating exercise from your routines all together, in fact quite the opposite, he did say that if you are struggling to lower blood sugar levels but find exercising challenging, regular and sustained hot tub baths can be a great help.
In the same BBC News online interview, the good doctor went on to suggest that there may even be benefits to increasing muscle strength by spending time “imagining” you’re exercising. He discovered that those imagining they were exercising their calf muscles, verses those who hadn’t, had calf muscles that were 8 percent stronger. He believes this could be helpful to athletes who have been injured and can’t exercise.
Frankly, right now, this writer (who by job definition is a ‘chair’ potato), is imagining that as I write this blog, my muscles are getting stronger — and not just the gray muscle in my head. We’ll keep you posted should my muscle strength improve.
In the meantime, Dr. Faulner’s findings on the benefits of hot tub soaks are great news for many. In all seriousness, that’s worth celebrating.
Yes, according to a recent study, just chatting away in a hot tub can provide some of the same benefits as doing actual exercise. And while the doctor who supervised the study believes that his findings should mostly benefit those who have trouble controlling their blood sugar levels — and those who have difficulty exercising — there is no doubt there are terrific benefits to anyone soaking in a hot tub. Yippee. And you thought hot tubbing was just for fun. Photo: Bullfrog Spas