Taking a bath is an extremely interesting activity. In the first few years of our lives, baths are all we know. Some of us like them, and some of us hate them, but most of us outgrow them and switch to the more grown-up standing shower. Some may return to the idea of taking a bath while on a self-care journey or as a way to alleviate joint pain, but research has shown that a hot bath may also help with a person’s heart health.
A study published back in March, by the journal Heart, suggests that a daily hot bath is associated with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and strokes. Experts from Harvard Medical School have recently taken a look at this study and commented on whether or not they believe that frequent bathing can benefit a person’s heart health.
What does the study say about hot baths?
For the study, researchers analyzed self-reported health and lifestyle information from middle-aged people who lived in Japan. At the beginning of the study in 1990, about 43,000 participants answered a questionnaire about their lifestyles: exercise, diet, alcohol intake, weight, average sleep duration, medical history, current medicine use, and bathing habits.
The participants were monitored until they died or until the completion of the study in December 2009. The final analysis included 30,076 people.
The study found that people who took a daily warm or hot bath had a 28% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 26% lower risk of stroke compared to people who didn’t take a bath more than twice per week.
“We found that frequent tub bathing was significantly associated with a lower risk of hypertension, suggesting that a beneficial effect of tub bathing on risk of [cardiovascular disease] may in part be due to a reduced risk of developing hypertension,” the study researchers wrote.
When it comes to the temperature of the water, the study suggests that hot water is better for lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease. Analysis of the study indicated that warm water reduced risk by 26%, while those who bathed in hot water saw a reduction in risk of 35% for cardiovascular disease. There were no significant associations between water temperature and overall stroke risk.
What do Harvard experts say about the effectiveness of a bath for their health?
Experts at Harvard Health say that while taking a warm bath definitely helps to soothe aching joints, reduce stress, and promote better sleep, the study does not prove that daily tub bathing completely reduces the risk for heart problems as it is only an observational study versus a clinical experiment.
According to the Harvard Health experts, previous research has shown that the effects of taking a bath are similar to those of exercising; Both exercise and bathing increase the heart’s work by relaxing the blood vessels and getting the blood pumping to other parts of the body.
The experts warn people to be careful when taking a bath as very hot water can result in sudden death due to overheating, confusion, or drowning. Those taking a bath should keep the water at a comfortable temperature to reduce the risk of overheating.
The study focused only on tub bathing and made no mention of the benefits of a hot shower on an individual’s cardiovascular health.
Jennifer Fabiano is an SEO reporter at Ladders.