A hot bath reduces inflammation the same way exercise does
A hot bath could help reduce inflammation and blood sugar levels in people who can’t exercise, according to a new study.
Exercise has many proven health benefits beyond helping to maintain a healthy weight. Regular physical activity helps boost energy, improves mood, and even helps promote deep sleep.
Studies have shown that exercise can also reduce the risk of several cancers including colon cancer, breast cancer, and endometrial cancer.
However, not everyone is able to exercise whether through physical limitations, lifestyle, or because of medical conditions.
Researchers from Loughborough University and Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom found that taking an hour bath in hot water can elicit the same anti-inflammatory response that happens while working out.
The researchers published their findings in the Journal of Applied Physiology.
Exercise causes short-term inflammatory markers in the body to elevate. Post workout, levels of an inflammatory chemical called Il-6 increases in the body which then activates anti-inflammatory substances.
This is called the inflammatory response, and it’s important for reducing high levels of inflammation and chronic low-grade inflammation.
Exercise also increases blood flow and temperature which helps with maintaining blood sugar levels.
For the study, ten sedentary males who were classified as overweight participated in a series of trials involving a hot-water immersion treatment. The researchers first studied potential inflammation markers and measured blood sugar and insulin levels of the men.
Next, the participants were told to rest in a room with a temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.
After the 15 minutes were up the men were split into two groups, and one group stayed in the 80-degree room while the other took part in a hot-water treatment.
The members of the second group were immersed from the neck down in a hot water bath with a temperature of 102-degrees Fahrenheit for an hour. The researchers took blood samples before every phase of the trial and recorded temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate measurements every 15 minutes.
One session of the hot-water treatment elevated Il-6 levels in the men’s blood, and after two weeks of daily hot water baths, the researchers found that blood sugar and insulin levels were reduced, and inflammation improved.
Some of the participants complained that the water was too hot or that the sessions were too long and the researchers say that hot water immersion sessions could be difficult for some people.
However, the study provides a potential alternative for people who can’t exercise but could benefit from the health impacts of regular physical activity.
“Regular exercise-induced acute inflammatory responses are suggested to improve the inflammatory profile and insulin sensitivity,” the researchers wrote. “[hot water treatments could] improve aspects of the inflammatory profile and enhance glucose metabolism in sedentary, overweight males and might have implications for improving metabolic health in populations unable to meet the current physical activity recommendations.”