Soaking in a hot tub has the 'same health benefits' as going for a 30-minute jog, scientists reveal | The Sun

SOAKING in a hot tub has some of the same health benefits as going for a 30-minute jog, a study suggests.

Scientists found people who submersed themselves in a Lay-Z Spa for half an hour experienced a major cardiovascular and mental health boost which rivalled running.

The team at Coventry University studied 20 healthy participants aged 26 to 60.

They measured their heart rate, blood pressure, blood flow, anxiety, salivary cortisol, mood, and thermal perception – and did a follow-up questionnaire.

Three half-hour sessions were completed in a Lay-Z Spa Majorca Hydrojet Pro at the same time over three separate days.

Following immersion, blood flow to the legs increased by 345 per cent on average – which is about the same as after a 30-minute jog.



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Heart rates also shot up by an average of 31 beats per minute, which works out roughly equivalent to a brisk walk.

And blood pressure dropped significantly, which the authors said also happens when running and is favourable to everyone, but especially those with existing heart disease as it's associated with fewer heart attacks and strokes.

There were also considerable mental health advantages.

Salivary cortisol levels – which indicate stress – dropped by 22 per cent, as happens when exercising.

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Continuously high cortisol has been linked to several long-term health conditions, including weight gain, type 2 diabetes, muscle weakness, and severe fatigue.

Participants also demonstrated a 10 per cent reduction in anxiety levels – similar to a speedy stroll.

Previous studies suggest long-term anxiety increases the risk of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), migraines, insomnia, weight gain or loss, heart disease, depression and a weakened immune system.

Maintaining the water temperature in the hot tub was key to the beneficial results, the authors said.

They hope their work will help those who are less mobile or unable to exercise in the future.

Dr Tom Cullen, assistant professor of research at the Research Centre for Sport, Exercise and Life Sciences, said: "In modern society, many people are unfortunately leading highly stressed and physically inactive lifestyles which can result in poor health outcomes and increase the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.

"As a researcher, I am interested in exploring ways to improve people’s lives through lifestyle modifications.

"Many typical modifications such as exercise, dieting and quitting smoking are often difficult for many people to maintain for a variety of reasons.

"Regularly using a Lay-Z-Spa, however, offers an excellent way of providing a lifestyle modification that has many health benefits, but crucially, is something which people enjoy doing."

There is nothing quite like the feeling of relaxing in a hot tub. Whether you realise it or not, it poses excellent benefits to both physical and mental health.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally, according to the World Health Organization.

Medical interventions are "costly and intrusive", so Dr Cullen and his team hope hot tubs could be an easy way to improve the physical and mental health of sufferers.

They credit two elements to its success.

"The scientific results are based on the body's response to submersion in heated water," they said.

"The other is a psychological response.

"Taking time out from busy lives and simply relaxing peacefully and quietly in a calm environment with the soothing bubbles of the massage system allows one to simply disconnect and feel at ease.

"There is nothing quite like the feeling of relaxing in a hot tub.

"Even just a short time spent in a Lay‑Z‑Spa can leave you feeling revitalised.

"The healing effects of water stretch back centuries and hot water immersion or hot water healing is practised for spiritual, mindful and health reasons all over the world.

"Whichever way you look at it, using a Lay‑Z‑Spa is good for you.

"Whether you realise it or not, it poses excellent benefits to both physical and mental health."


Dr Mariyam Hassan Malik, a Pall Mall Medical GP who was not involved in the study, said while benefits will vary from person to person, she could see the approach being adopted.

"The warmth of a hot tub can help relax your muscles and promote the release of endorphins, which are natural mood elevators and can help reduce stress and anxiety and improve your overall mental wellbeing," she said.

"Soaking in a hot bath before bedtime may promote better sleep as the increase in body temperature followed by a drop in temperature when you leave the bath can signal to your body that it's time to rest, helping you fall asleep more easily.

"And hot water can alleviate muscle tension and soreness, making it a popular choice for athletes and those with muscle pain, while it can also improve circulation and flexibility."

She also pointed to the benefits the heat can have on reducing various types of pain, including arthritis and menstrual cramps, by improving blood flow and lessening muscle stiffness.

And it could even help cleanse the skin, providing you don't use water that is too hot, and treat breathing problems, circulation issues and poor mental health.

Dr Malik, who works in Manchester and Liverpool, added: "The steam produced by hot water can help alleviate symptoms of congestion and respiratory conditions like colds and sinusitis as breathing in the warm, moist air can soothe the airways and improve breathing.

"Hot water can dilate blood vessels, improving circulation.

"This can be particularly beneficial for people with cardiovascular issues, although it's important to use caution and consult with a healthcare professional if you have a heart condition.

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"And the relaxation provided by a hot bath or spa can be particularly helpful for individuals experiencing anxiety or mild depression as the warm water and calming atmosphere can improve mood and reduce symptoms."

She did, however, urge people to stay hydrated, use comfortable water temperatures of between 37C and 40C for short periods, and speak to a healthcare professional first.

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