lifestyle

Can’t face the gym? A hot bath or sauna trip could have the same health benefits, says study


Baths and saunas increase blood flow, body temperature and heart rate – the same way exercise does (Picture: Getty)

If you’re simply not in the mood for a workout, two other activities have been found to have similar health benefits. 

And they are a lot more relaxing than a tiring exercise session. 

According to a new study, a lovely long soak in a hot bath or a trip to the sauna can mimic the same effects as low-to-moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging and cycling. 

New research from Coventry University has found that these ‘heat therapies’ can increase blood flow, body temperature and heart rate – the same way exercise does – and could help improve cardiovascular health.

In the study, volunteers spent equal amounts of time in a hot tub and cycling. Researchers found that although exercise was better at increasing energy expenditure, there were comparable rises in core body temperature and heart rate with heat therapy.

Other benefits include lower blood pressure, reduced inflammation and tighter blood sugar control for people with type 2 diabetes.

However, it’s worth pointing out that a hot bath or sauna visit won’t help with fat loss or improving muscle mass and bone density – but can help with health in other areas. 

This means heat therapies could be a great option for older individuals or those with injuries. 

Charles Steward, an author on the study, said: ‘Exercise adherence is very poor, with many people unwilling to exercise due to lack of time and motivation. And for those who are older or have chronic diseases, exercise can also cause pain, which for obvious reasons limits exercise further.

‘While exercise remains the best way to improve your health, research shows that bathing in a sauna or hot tub are alternative options for those who are either unwilling or unable to take part in enough exercise.’

The research is pretty important, too, considering that only 42% of women and 34% of men exercise for the recommended 150 minutes a week. 

What’s more, one in 10 deaths in the UK are thought to be linked to lifestyles that involve a lack of movement.

Of course, exercising frequently as well as bathing is no doubt the best option.

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Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.


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