From the bubbles to the piping hot jets to the sexy times in between – nothing feels quite as relaxing as soaking in a hot tub. But it’s not just a luxurious way to spend your evening. Little did you know that every time you hop into the water, you might actually be improving your health.
According to the Live Strong organization, the heat, buoyancy, and massage elements of a hot tub can provide a number of benefits. In fact, many medical professionals recommend athletes opt for hot water therapy to relieve aches and pains, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis, diabetes, and other conditions.
SLEEP AND STRESS RELIEF
Have you ever wondered why you feel tired after leaving a hot tub? It all boils down to simple science. The massaging jets and heat help reduce tension in your body, making it easier to fall asleep. In the hot tub, your body temperature rises, and when you exit the tub, the drastic drop in temperature induces sleep – sort of a double whammy. Studies suggest that spending 15 minutes in a hot tub 90 minutes before bedtime can lead to an improved night’s sleep, according to experts at Live Strong. The National Sleep Foundation also claims that soaking in hot water, such as a hot tub or bath, before retiring to bed can ease the transition into a deeper sleep.
It’s also important to note that a warm water massage stimulates the body to release endorphins – you know, those feel-good chemicals in your body. Endorphins are known to relieve stress naturally. Also, the next time you have a headache, forget the aspirin. A hot tub’s hydrotherapy will help dilate your blood vessels, which in turn, help prevent headaches.
Research claims that for the 1 in 3 Americans who have some form of arthritis, hot tubs help exercise and relax the muscle joints, which may cause pain during simple daily tasks. According to the Arthritis Foundation, soaking in the water, known as hydrotherapy, helps reduce overall pain, making the patient feel comfortable at home and outdoors. If you don’t own a hot tub, consider going to a spa, which can give you the benefits of water therapy and you can also indulge in another part of arthritis treatment – massage. A licensed professional will find ways of integrating the best of both worlds, giving you a bit of relief from your pains, without all the fuss of medications.
A student at the McKee Medical Center shows that patients who spent 30 minutes a day in a hot tub reported a 13 percent decrease in blood sugar levels, improved sleep, and a higher sense of well-being, according to a 2009 article from Currents Online. This is a great option for people who are not able to exercise. It’s important to note, however, that because people with diabetes are more vulnerable to getting burns on their feet, they want to be careful in the hot tub. You don’t want your diabetic condition to cause you additional health problems. The Live Strong organization warns that drops in blood sugar may not be noticeable for people with Type 2 Diabetes until they get out of the hot tub. Be sure to get out of the water gradually, so you do not pass out.
Sports doctors often prescribe hot-water therapy for athletes, which goes to show why spa sales have skyrocketed recently. According to Tennis Magazine, “Your skin and muscles loosen and relax from the increased blood circulation” adding that, if muscles are injured: “A soak in a hot tub or whirlpool increases blood flow to the injured area, bringing nutrients to help repair the damage.”
In a study at the University of Minnesota, 85 percent of the participants preferred a whirlpool bath to a still bath. The only whirlpool was effective in reducing the participants’ reactivity to stress although both still and whirlpool baths were effective in reducing anxiety and muscle relief, according to an article by Holistic Online.
When you soak in a hot tub or bath, it can cause your blood vessels to open up. This is a process called vasodilatation, which is a decrease in blood pressure. The heat and massage ease blood flow and can improve circulation, in addition to stimulating nerve impulses that boost the immune system and digestion, according to an article by Live Strong.
However, the American Heart Association warns that people with high blood pressure, who’ve been told to avoid activities like exercise, should avoid using hot tubs. Not sure if it’s OK with you? Consult your doctor. It’s also important to note that you should not drink alcohol or move between hot and cold-water sources (like a swimming pool to the hot tub at the spa). This can increase your blood pressure.