If you’re one of the many, many, many people who hate exercising but want to get in shape in time for the summer, here is some excellent news: New research suggests that taking a hot bath may actually be just as good for you as exercise in terms of burning calories. So if you’ve been struggling with the idea of purchasing a gym membership or a pair of mid-range running shoes (the fact that they cost more than $50 has always struck me as a crime), take a deep breath, put on that song by Tweet about accidentally taking all your clothes off (never forget), run a bath, and then steep in your own hot filth for an hour!
How do we know that lowering yourself into the tub and just sitting there is conducive to your health? Well, aside from the fact that hot baths are tremendously relaxing (as long as everyone else is out of the house or knows not to disturb you) researchers at Loughborough University in The UK recently conducted a study that tested whether raising a person’s core temperature could lead to the burning of calories. The investigators recruited 14 men (yes, that’s a small sample size, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying this news) and then assigned them to one of two categories: some men cycled for an hour (boring, terrible) while others enjoyed a nice, relaxing 104 degree bath. (Don’t worry about that number, 104 degrees is what many jacuzzis are set at, and you love those, right?)
Here’s what happened, via The Conversation:
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.
*Billy Mays voice* but that’s not alllllllll:
We also showed changes to the inflammatory response similar to that following exercise. The anti-inflammatory response to exercise is important as it helps to protect us against infection and illness, but chronic inflammation is associated with a reduced ability to fight off diseases. This suggests that repeated passive heating may contribute to reducing chronic inflammation, which is often present with long-term diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.
This is excellent news, not least because this is just the beginning of the research yet to be done on the health effects of “passive heating.” Sure, you’ll still want to keep active and eat right, but at least now you know that taking a bath on your off days isn’t just good, it’s good for you. If anyone needs me, I’ll be using up my entire building’s hot water supply to finally get the body of my dreams.