There’s truly nothing better than taking a hot bath after a long, stressful day. A hot bath relieves tension and relaxes your muscles and your mind. But there’s another side-effect to taking a hot bath. By taking that steamy bath, you can actually burn as many calories as you do when you take a 30 minute walk.
Dr. Steve Faulkner from Loughborough University conducted a study in which he compared the effects of an hour-long tub soak to an hour of cycling. He paid attention to blood sugar control (measure of metabolic fitness) and energy expended (calories burned). Two groups of men stepped up to the plate to compare and contrast cycling vs. bath time.
Cycling for an hour resulted in more calories burned than taking a bath. But an hour long bath still burned the same amount of calories as a 30 minute walk, which Faulkner said is about 140 calories. That’s still a good amount of calorie burning for just a simple soak!
The blood sugar response was similar in both instances. But blood sugar after eating was about 10% lower in the men who bathed compared to those who exercised.
The phenomenon of burning calories in a hot bath is referred to as “passive heating,” and Faulkner explains that it’s a fairly new field of research. Compared to making the body hot and sweaty from physical exercise, passive heating happens when a hot and humid climate makes the body release sweat without having to exert energy. There’s still a lot of research to do on passive heating, but so far it seems to have pretty convincing health benefits.
So perhaps instead of taking your daily half-hour walk, hop in the tub instead! Now we all have a great excuse to go buy some bath bombs and soak to our heart’s content!