It’s been a long, hard day and soaking in a hot tub may be just the therapy you need to unwind and escape. Aside from helping you relax, it turns out that spending time in a hot tub may provide other benefits, too.
Whether you’re a hot tub owner or make use of your gym’s Jacuzzi, there are some important things you need to know to get the most out of your hot tub experience.
Let’s explore some potential health benefits of soaking in a hot tub and when it may be safer to avoid it.
The potential benefits of using a hot tub vary from person to person. Much depends on your overall health and how you use it.
Below are 7 possible benefits of soaking in a hot tub.
1. Stress relief
One of the most obvious benefits of a hot tub is the potential to help ease the tensions of the day. The soothing effect of the warm water and massaging action may help relieve physical, emotional, and mental stress.
If you like, you can boost this stress-relieving effect even further with soft music, low lighting, or aromatherapy.
2. Muscle relaxation
The hot water and massaging action of the hot tub jets can be an effective way to help relax and soothe tight, tense muscles. This can help ease aches and pains.
A hot tub soak before exercising may also reduce the risk of injury.
3. Improved sleep
According to research, the simple relaxation gained from a soak in the hot tub may be enough to help you drift off into a more peaceful sleep.
4. Pain relief
Soaking in a hot tub may relieve some types of pain by relaxing tense muscles, joints, and tendons.
If you have arthritis, the heat and massaging action may help ease the stiffness and inflammation that cause pain.
Water supports your body and takes weight off joints, which helps improve flexibility and range of motion. You might gain some of these benefits in a warm bath as well.
5. Better cardiovascular health
Relaxing in a hot tub can raise your heart rate and lower your blood pressure.
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6. Improved insulin sensitivity
7. Calorie burn
In a small 2016 study, participants soaked in a waist-high hot bath for an hour and burned about the same number of calories as a 30-minute walk. That’s not to say that it should take the place of exercise, but it might help metabolism, particularly for those who find it hard to exercise.
If you have any concerns about using a hot tub, it’s worth having a conversation with your doctor. This is especially important in the following situations:
- Heart disease. Soaking in a hot tub can affect heart rate and blood pressure. This may be beneficial to some people with cardiovascular concerns but could be unsafe for others.
- Pregnancy. It’s easy to get overheated when you’re pregnant, which can be harmful to you and your baby.
You may also want to avoid a hot tub if you have:
- Skin injuries. Wait until cuts, open sores, or rashes have healed to reduce the risk of irritation and infection.
- Low blood pressure. If you’re prone to lightheadedness or fainting, you should probably avoid the hot tub as the hot water could lower your blood pressure further.
- Urinary tract infection (UTI). Exposure to hot water when you have a UTI may worsen your symptoms.
Whether you use your own hot tub or one that belongs to a gym or community, check to make sure the tub is clean and properly maintained. The water should be cleaned and tested regularly. A poorly maintained hot tub can lead to a skin infection called hot tub folliculitis.
Movies, television, and even social media often depict people lounging in a hot tub for hours on end with a cocktail in their hand. This isn’t ideal or safe. Here’s how to go about your hot tub soak to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks:
- Avoid very hot water. Make sure the water isn’t too hot, with an absolute maximum of 104°F (40°C).
- Stay hydrated. Hot tubs make you sweat and leave you dehydrated. Drink water plenty of water, but avoid alcohol before or during your soak.
- Limit your time in the tub. Don’t stay in too long, especially if you’re not used to it. At the maximum temperature, set your limit at 10 to 15 minutes. You can stay in for longer at a lower temperature if you’re used to it. Signs that you need to get out right away include:
- lightheadedness, dizziness
- skin redness
- shortness of breath
- Wash afterward. When finished, remove your bathing suit and wash with soap and lukewarm water. Don’t go immediately from the hot tub to icy cold water, as this could spike your blood pressure.
Regular soaking in a hot tub may provide several health benefits, such as muscle relaxation, pain relief, and improved sleep. Some studies suggest a wider variety of health benefits, but more research is needed to determine the specifics of hot tub therapy with particular conditions.
Hot tubs should be properly maintained to ensure health and safety. Consult with your doctor if you have health issues such as heart disease. You should also avoid the hot tub while pregnant or if you have an injury to your skin. When used carefully, hot tubs are safe for most people.