Wait, Taking a Bath Can Help You Lose Weight? (Well, Can It?)
It seems like miracle weight loss discoveries are constantly scrolling across our screens.
Every. Single. Day. So when you hear that taking a bath once a week can help you lose weight, it’s easy to be skeptical.
Baths have lots of benefits, some you probably don’t know about. However, it is rather hard to think that a bath could help you lose weight. What if I were to tell you that in some small scientific ways, a bath can actually help some people’s bodies to behave as if they had gone to the gym? Let’s explore that, and while we’re at it, other benefits of bathing, and how to make that weekly soak the moment you look forward to for the rest of your week.
Can a Bath Help You Lose Weight?
The answer to this is a little complex. First, there are many things that can cause weight
gain. Everything from hormonal imbalances to sitting too much for the calories we take in. But, there’s really only one way to lose weight, and that’s to take in fewer calories than you expend through activity.
At least one scientific study (yes, it’s only one, and more research is needed, but hang with me here) has shown that men who bathed in hot (104 degrees Fahrenheit) water for an hour reaped a remarkable benefit. They tested 14 men, some of whom were overweight.
Here’s Woman’s Health’s Take on the Study:
Here’s the deal: The study, which was published in the journal Temperature (no pun intended), was led by Steve Faulkner, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at Loughborough University. Faulkner looked at the link between taking a hot bath, a person’s blood sugar, and how many calories they burned. […] He discovered that taking a hot bath burns about 140 calories per hour. The baths also lowered the men’s peak blood sugar after they ate by about 10 percent more than exercising did.
What Does That Mean?
Yes, a weekly bath, if you stay in it for an hour, and you keep the temperature at 104 degrees, can produce an effect that lowers blood glucose (sugar) and burns calories. In other words, in a perfect world, yes, a bath can help you lose weight. (Most likely in a hot tub, as it’s awfully hard to hold a consistent temp in the bathtub!)
But, it’s not a perfect world. Right? And, you may not have access to a hot tub.
Not to mention, 140 calories just isn’t that impressive. It’s equal to a snack, like a one ounce slice of cheese rolled with a one-ounce slice of turkey-sized snack. Or, as noted in Woman’s Health, one craft beer.
But, it’s also about what a 155-pound person burns (149 calories) while walking a leisurely 17-minute mile for 30 minutes. To put that in perspective, it’s the same number of calories (150) a similarly sized person burns while bathing a child, according to Harvard Health.
Kids are hard work! And, maybe it’s time to invest in a hot tub… but, overall, a bath isn’t a weight-loss panacea.
That doesn’t mean that weekly bath doesn’t have benefits, nor that you won’t enjoy somewhat enhanced weight loss if you bathe regularly. It just means that you shouldn’t expect your hour-long soak in the tub each week to melt off your fat. Anyone who says it will is probably trying to sell you something.
Ok, I’m Interested, What Are the Other Bath Benefits?
To start with, when you set up a bath with essential oils, mineral salts, and a nice bath pillow, self-care never felt so relaxing. Sure, all you need is that hot water to get a little relaxed, but done right, this experience can be down-right luscious.
We’ll get to how to set up the perfect, skin-hydrating, relaxing bath right after this. Just, if you have pulmonary hypertension, especially, speak to your doctor before indulging in long hot soaks — they can lower your blood pressure too much in some cases.
10 Exceptional, Science-Backed Bathing Benefits for You!
There are other, scientifically-backed benefits of that bath which you may not realize. In fact, bathing has such strong effects on your body that some health conditions mean you shouldn’t do it.
1. Gets the Juices Flowing
Improved blood flow is a known, proven benefit of soaking in a bath. That is because the hot water acts as a short-term vasodilator, increasing the size of the vessels and veins in the body so your blood can flow through at higher volumes. Think of it as adding a traffic lane to a major highway to let more cars travel through. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to your cells, so that increased flow helps it do so.
2. Can Make You Smile More, and Hurt Less
Seriously, this has been studied, and when you have a 10-minute soak instead of a shower you smile more. But that’s not all, it also improved fatigue, stress, pain when compared to the same people showering instead of soaking.
3. Temporarily Lowered Blood Pressure (There’s a Caveat to This One!)
Soaking in a hot bath can lower blood pressure quite effectively. That relaxing effect is great for healthy hearts and could help you achieve that zen that you are seeking. However as a warning, if you have pulmonary hypertension, especially, speak to your doctor before indulging in hot soaks or showers — they can lower your blood pressure dangerously for people with certain heart conditions.
4. The Water Pill Effect
Diuretics — also known as “water pills” — are substances that increase urine production and remove excess water from your body. Baths around 90 degrees have been shown to improve diuresis (increased urine production) by 107 percent. That means loss of some water weight, as when you urinate, you do temporarily lose that weight. It’s not a long-term effect, and it doesn’t magically melt the pounds. However, diuretics are used by many women during their menstrual cycle and people who need to get rid of some extra water. So, it’s nice to know that a bath may help.
5. Helps With Garbage Removal
When it comes to vasodilation and increased blood flow, there’s another benefit. Blood doesn’t just bring good things to your cells, it carries away the garbage. Garbage like carbon dioxide and metabolic waste materials.
6. Take a Deep Breath
Immersing yourself in hot water with your head sticking out helps improve lung function. The fact that they have to say your ability to breathe is only improved with your head out of the water seems a little silly — you can’t really breathe with your head under the water, now, can you? However, it’s scientifically proven so it’s a bath benefit!
7. Mental Health Booster
Remember that smile study? Well, it turns out that bathing instead of showering improved self-reported scores in several areas. Those included lower reports of the scourge of American adulthood: stress. Also decreased were tension, anxiety, anger and feelings of hostility, and even feelings of dejection and depression.
8. Bacteria and B.O.
Ok, so washing your skin helps you control body odor (B.O.), because you are clean, right? That’s just common sense. The Mayo Clinic, however, says that regular bathing can help control body odor in a slightly different way than just taking the dirt off. Daily bathing can reduce bacterial growth on skin, lowering odor — especially with antibacterial soaps.
9. Muscles, Bones, and Joints, Oh My!
Moving and stretching in the warm water of your bath is good for your body. Your muscles, bones, and joints all benefit from it.
10. Blood Sugar and Inflammation
As the first study we talked about mentioned that baths can have effects on blood sugar and make the body act like you have been exercising. It’s not a weight-loss miracle pill, but it can’t hurt and may help.
Ask Any Mom
Bonus benefit! An amalgam of benefits, we know that bath can help with heart health, body health, mental health… well, that seems to be your overall wellbeing. But, a few minutes alone, in a quiet, relaxed environment, especially one that smells good and feels luxurious, is down-right amazing. Ask any parent, these moments are too few and far between.
Now that we know all these benefits of bathing, including the probability that it helps in several ways with at least short-term weight loss boosts, there’s no reason to keep putting of that me-time. You deserve it. Your body deserves it, and yes, even non-parents get the same great bathing boosts.