Most of us know that a long bath feels wonderful and creates an atmosphere of quiet serenity that is very difficult to find elsewhere. But many of us do not know that bathing also has significant health and wellness benefits.
Before filling up the tub, you’ll probably want to augment your collection of bath toys for adults, or more likely start one from scratch. The best back scrubber is a good place to start, because a firm yet gentle scrubber is both cleansing and relaxing.
These health benefits are not new. Hydrotherapy (hot baths) and cryotherapy (cold baths) have been around for centuries. People often visit hot springs to soak in the warm mineral waters. And one athlete said that when he took an ice bath, he felt like he was unwrapping a new pair of legs.
When some people with pre-existing heart conditions soak in a hot bath or hottub, it causes a condition called tachycardia, which is a dangerously elevated heart rate. That’s why most hottubs have warning signs to that effect.
But a warm bath essentially induces mild tachycardia in people with otherwise healthy hearts. That means better blood circulation throughout the body, and especially in the extremities. The slightly-elevated temperature acts as something of a natural anticoagulant that makes the blood less viscous and flow more efficiently, leading to a lower blood pressure.
The temperature of warm bath water, combined with the water pressure, increases both oxygen intake and lung capacity. The mild tachycardia boosts this effect, as does the steam from the warm water that opens your nasal passages.
Cold water baths have a beneficial effect on respiration as well. The lower temperature creates a more infection-resistant environment in and around the lungs, which is good news for people with COPD and other chronic lung diseases. Moreover, the cold water necessitates a more rhythmic breathing pattern, which improves stamina as well as lung capacity.
Nervous System Benefits
It turns out there is a chemical reason why warm baths often make you feel more relaxed and serene.
The warm water is almost like a heat pack that covers your entire body, reducing inflammation and its associated discomfort. That physical effect has mental benefits in terms of a more relaxed spirit and a better overall mood. The water pressure has benefits as well. It strengthens the spine, improving posture and alleviating some Parkinson’s Disease symptoms.
Better Gastrointestinal Health
That inflammation reduction is good news for people with hemorrhoids and anal fissures, because these conditions often significantly interfere with overall digestive health besides being very painful. Additionally, there is evidence that immersion in warm water reduces blood sugar levels. Finally, the aforementioned better blood circulation often hastens and optimizes the digestive process.
All that being said, it is not a good idea to take a warm bath immediately after mealtime.
Warm water baths raise serotonin levels, creating a feeling of peace and well-being. On the other end of the scale, cold water baths help balance other key hormones, such as cortisol and beta endorphin.
Muscle and Joint Health
You get all these benefits simply by soaking in the tub. If you move around a little while submerged, there are even more benefits.
The no-impact movement is ideal for people with sensitive joints, and the water creates resistance, so slow and easy movements have almost the same effect as running or walking in the surface world. There’s also zero chance of a fall.
Take a few extra minutes to fill the tub and soak tonight, and see for yourself the difference that it makes in the morning.