Why a hot bath is healthy

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 Conversation

At Loughborough University we investigated the effect of a hot bath on blood sugar control (an important measure of metabolic fitness) and on energy expended (number of calories burned). We recruited 14 men to take part in the study. They were assigned to an hour-long soak in a hot bath (40˚C) or an hour of cycling. The activities were designed to cause a 1˚C rise in core body temperature over the course of one hour.

We measured how many calories the men burned in each session. We also measured their blood sugar for 24 hours after each trial.

Cycling resulted in more calories being burned compared with a hot bath, but bathing resulted in about as many calories being burned as a half-hour walk (around 140 calories). The overall blood sugar response to both conditions was similar, but peak blood sugar after eating was about 10% lower when participants took a hot bath compared with when they exercised.