The Science Behind Baths

Relax


It’s been a long day. You can’t wait to get home and unwind with a hot bath. If you think hard enough, you can imagine your feet relaxing into the hot water. Ahhhhhhhhh.

If you enjoy baths, squeeze one into your routine every day. Reducing chronic stress is associated with reduced risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

We know the brain science behind stress and Alzheimer’s, but is there a brain connection with a hot bath, too?

The act of taking a hot bath for relaxation is called hydrotherapy. It’s been used since the times of ancient civilizations. A hot bath is the cure for whatever ails you, from sore muscles to arguments with your mother-in-law — and it’s a scientific fact.

Hydrotherapy in water at 32°C (90°F) has been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate. It can also slow the production of the stress hormones cortisol and aldosterone.

A hot bath can also help you breathe a little easier. Studies report improved oxygen transportation when the chest was immersed in hot water.

All of these factors combine to reduce muscle tension and mental stress. And if your tub has jets, turn them on! Whirlpool baths with jets are specifically linked with decreased anxiety.

Next time you take a hot bath to rinse away your worries, remember, you’re doing it for your brain health, too. Give yourself an extra 5 minutes to relax and wash the stress away.

References

  • Mooventhan, A., & Nivethitha, L. (2014). Scientific evidence-based effects of hydrotherapy on various systems of the body. North American Journal of Medical Sciences, 6(5), 199–209. https://doi.org/10.4103/1947-2714.132935
  • Robiner, W. N. (1990). Psychological and physical reactions to whirlpool baths. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 13(2), 157–173. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf00844996