Do you ever wonder if there are hot bath benefits other than making you say ‘ooh!’ and ‘ahh’? If so, you may be amazed to discover what a hot bath can do for your mind, body and soul—if you know just how to work the magic.
In this post, we dive into how you can best take advantage of hot bath benefits. Read on to learn how to unlock the healing powers of your tub.
20 Hot Bath Benefits
1. Improved Sleep
One of the best benefits of taking a hot bath is that it can improve your sleep. While you’re in the bath, your core body temperature is raised. And when you get out, it rapidly falls. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the change in core temperature is what lulls your body and mind to sleep:
“Try to schedule this bath for 60 to 90 minutes before bed, so that your body temperature has a chance to drop before you jump into bed and pile on those cozy blankets.”
2. Relief from Menstrual Cramps
A hot bath eases cramps by increasing blood flow to the pelvis and relaxing the muscles around the uterus. While a heating pad can help by warming you a little, a hot bath can warm you even more, raising your core body temperature, and improving circulation.
For added relief, try adding lavender essential oil to the tub. Studies show that lavender oil is calming, which can be especially helpful during menstruation.
3. Help With Weight Loss
Yes, you burn calories sitting in the tub and the hotter your bath, the more calories you burn. But that said, as far as your waistline is concerned, most of the benefits you’ll get from the bath are secondary.
What I mean by this is that a hot bath can improve your sleep and lower your cortisol. And I don’t have to tell you that when you’re on little to no sleep, you’re more likely to stuff your face with cake. Or if your cortisol spikes making you stressed out, you’ll be rummaging through the pantry for chips.
For much more on how a bath can help with weight loss see our Bathtubber post What Are the Best Baths for Weight Loss.
4. Decreased Joint Pain
The Arthritis Foundation says that taking a bath can relieve joint pain pretty much right away. Of course, this is a temporary fix, and the Foundation warns that if you’re age 70 or older or have heart issues, you should consult a doctor before taking warm baths.
But you don’t need an arthritis diagnosis to experience joint pain—and to feel incredible relief. I sometimes get pain in my right knee. For a mystery reason, during my first weeks of high school, I was on crutches because I couldn’t put any weight onto my leg. Every now and then, this pain in my knee comes back to haunt me.
At those times, I’ll practically live in the tub. Fill it up. Soak. Then get out but don’t drain the water. A few hours later, add another inch or two of hot. Get back in. Repeat throughout the day. I love my bath!
5. Detoxified Skin
I had the super cool opportunity to interview Ann Webb a few weeks ago about how to hydrate your skin. She is a badass entrepreneur, medical esthetician, owner of Ann Webb Skin Clinic and the Ann Webb Skin Institute—and a total believer in the healing powers of a good bath.
Ann believes in letting the natural oils build up on the skin mantle, bathing 2-3 times a week. The natural oils protect the skin’s acid mantle that is on the outermost layer of skin. The acid mantle prevents bacteria and pollutants from entering the body.
When Ann does get the tub, she uses Korean Scrub gloves to detoxify the skin. She says, “If you’re not using these scrub gloves, you’re not really getting clean, and you have no idea what’s really on your body.”
6. Nourished Skin
After you detoxify your skin, it’s time to add back healthy minerals and moisturizers. Ann Webb does this as she soaks, by adding all kinds of nourishing, natural products to the bathwater.
She explains that she keeps a bunch of ingredients on her bath caddy to scoop into the tub. “I make pretty exotic baths for myself using green chlorophyll, ground mustard, spinach leaves,” she tells me.
Ann also recommends coconut oil for hydrating the skin and oatmeal for soothing any irritation or rash. You can add the coconut oil right into the tub. As far as the oatmeal, she recommends a DIY face mask made from 1 cup very soft, cooked oatmeal, ½ mashed banana and ½ avocado.
7. Clear Sinuses
If you’ve taken a steaming hot bath or shower with a cold or cough, you might have noticed a temporary relief in symptoms. And you might have noticed your nose running like a faucet when you get out of the bathroom.
This is because the steam has loosened the congestion in your nasal passages, and the warm steam has calmed the inflamed blood vessels that cause congestion.
Now what if you got in the hot tub with your cold and you added some aromatherapy specifically proven to reduce congestion? How about adding some Eucalyptus Oil to your bathwater to attack your cold with a double whammy. Or maybe add to that 6 drops of Cinnamon Oil. Suddenly, you’ve got a triple threat.
If you want to be fully armed with a natural remedy the next time you get a cold or cough, make a DIY bath bomb with these essential oils. Plus add a soothing butter like shea butter for extra skin hydration.
8. Constipation Relief
Dr. Bruce Belin is a Board-certified Colorectal Specialist at CSGA in Lexington,Kentucky. He’s helped thousands of patients with their constipation woes and more serious gastrointestinal challenges.
When I asked Dr. Belin if a bath can help relieve constipation, he told me that people who tend to get clogged up can improve by learning to respect their circadian rhythms. Why? Because most people who poop regularly do so in the morning,
Dr. Belin told me that taking a warm bath early in the morning on a routine basis can give your gut a much-needed assist.
9. Soothed Vaginal Area
So without getting too graphic, anyone with a truly compelling life story has at least one chapter about trouble with the private parts. And during that time in your life, you probably walked around like the woman in The Scream.
That is, until you discovered the benefits of a lukewarm Sitz Bath.
The word ‘sitz’ comes from the German word ‘sitzen’ which means to sit.
The Sitz bath can change your outlook on life, by soothing the affected genitals or anal area. You simply fill the tub with a few inches of warm water. Add salt or medicine if advised by your doctor. Then soak for 10-20 minutes, before gently drying yourself with a soft towel.
10. Improved Circulation
Personally, this is my favorite hot bath benefit. My feet are always sooo cold. That’s why I love getting in the tub every night before bed. I feel the warm water moving my blood to my extremities.
My blood circulates better in the tub because the warm water makes my heart beat faster. A small 2016 study found that very hot baths (104 degrees Fahrenheit) given to subjects 4-5 times per week did improve vascular health. But I could have told them that!
I spoke to Nailin Lu, a licensed acupuncturist at the Lu Acupuncture Center in Austin, Texas. She said:
“A hot bath, especially in wintertime, really improves circulation. For people who sit down and work long hours, taking a bath will help circulation to the lower legs and helps get rid of fatigue. People who work all day long at the office have a lot of stress, and when you’re under stress, it causes poor circulation. Soak in the hot bath 20-30 minutes at the end of the day will reduce the stress and improve circulation.”
Anyway, when I get out of the tub, I put on my seriously amazing bathrobe and get ready for bed. What a joy to have toasty feet while I fall asleep!
11. Decreased Stress
I’m jealous of my husband. When he gets exhausted, he gets this glazed look in his eyes. Then he goes to lie down and will conk out within seconds of hitting the pillow. It doesn’t matter if it’s mid-morning or mid-afternoon, he’s out. Twenty minutes later, he’ll get up refreshed with a new zest for life.
Then there’s me. I can never nap. I’ve tried and tried and tried. Never works. Lucky for me, there’s the bathtub! And come to find out, it’s not my imagination that the bathtub decreases my mental weariness. Science backs up that people feel rejuvenated after a hot bath. Another awesome benefit!
One study looked at 180 men who worked on the sea. The researchers selected to study these men because they face significant stress and exhaustion at work. According to the study:
“The prevalence of fatigue in the general working population has been estimated to be as high as 22%, and this fatigue is associated with pain, tiredness, nervous system mechanisms, and environmental stimuli in individuals who experience the effects.”
Researchers divided the men into three groups: a control group, a group that received music therapy, and a group that took geothermal baths in natural hot springs full of minerals. The bathing group experienced the most benefits including reduced pain, stress and fatigue.
12. Help for Depression
If you’re a regular bath taker, you probably know that a hot bath can relieve stress and calm you down. But did you know that science is finding that very hot baths can also help relieve symptoms of major depression?
In one study, 36 people with major depression were given hyperthermic baths (104 degrees Fahrenheit, 40 degrees Celsius) twice a week for four weeks. This was compared to a control group that was given a different intervention for depression. The group that took baths showed a statistically significant reduction in symptoms.
13. Enhanced Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of taking control of our thoughts, rather than letting our monkey minds swing from one random idea to the next. My favorite definition of mindfulness comes from JR Martin who defines mindfulness in the Journal of Psychotherapy Integration as:
“a state of psychological freedom that occurs when attention remains quiet and limber, without attachment to any particular point of view.”
The way to learn mindfulness is through meditation. Many studies show that practicing mindfulness meditation has many benefits, including decreased stress and anxiety. But many people, myself included, find it too hard to sit in Buddha pose and meditate on dry land.
But what about bathtub meditation? In fact, the bathtub can be an ideal place to learn a meditation practice.
- The warm water assists us in our efforts to relax a racing mind.
- The bathroom is a place in the home where we’re least likely to experience interruptions from technology or other family members.
- Plus, going to a familiar setting can cue the mind to take note of the present.
The only caveat here is that you don’t want the bathwater to be too hot so as to lull you to sleep. And you don’t want to try this if you’re very tired. Again, practice safety first. But once you’ve accounted for that, practice mindfulness and increase your overall joy.
14. Reduced Blood Sugar
In a super interesting study out of Loughborough University in the UK, researchers wanted to take a look at the impact of exercise and hot bathing on blood sugar. They studied 14 men. Half the men cycled for 1 hour and the other half of the group took a very hot bath (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for 1 hour.
As the researchers write:
“The overall blood sugar response to both conditions was similar, but peak blood sugar after eating was about 10% lower when participants took a hot bath compared with when they exercised.”
15. Decreased Inflammation
As you may know, inflammation is a common underlying problem for many diseases. And exercise decreases inflammation.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if sitting in hot water could reduce inflammation as well? Your bathwater isn’t as hot as the bathwater in the Longborough University study that I just mentioned above. But still, it’s inspiring to know that the same researchers found that hot water immersion seemed to inhibit an inflammatory response in their subjects.
16. Assistance with Natural Childbirth
Ever heard of a water birth? The mother in labor is immersed in a warm bath at the beginning of labor. One study reviewed birth data related to more than 3,000 women. The researchers write:
“Evidence suggests that water immersion during the first stage of labour reduces the use of epidural/spinal analgesia and duration of the first stage of labour.”
So a water birth can help women have a more natural, less medicated labor experience.
17. Peace and Quiet
Let’s say you have a calm, peaceful and pain-free water birth. Good for you! But don’t drain the water just yet, because once that child is born, you’ll need that bathtub for quite a different reason.
Young parents are known to lock themselves in the bathroom and sit on the toilet for an extra minute or two just to bask in the alone time. Wouldn’t it be better to sit in a hot bath?
Anyone who needs refuge from a loud and busy household can find salvation right there in the bathroom. My baby son has now grown into a fun, loud teenager who loves his music.
As any mother with introverted tendencies can attest, sometimes quiet is not a luxury but a necessity as critical as food, air, and water. I frequently plug my ears with wax and escape to the tub. Sometimes I’ll read my book there. For this hot bath benefit, I’m not citing any research–just hardcore personal experience that’s as good as a proven fact: a hot bath can save your life.
18. Enhanced Community
As an introverted extrovert, there comes a point when I’ve nourished my soul with enough silence. At that time, I’m ready to experience ‘naked friendship.’ Yes, you read that right! Naked friendship. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
This is how the Japanese refer to the social experience found in their bathhouses, where the shoemaker and the executive bathe together buck naked. At that moment, all social classes disappear and everyone is equal, the same.
I’ve had the amazing opportunity to visit bathhouses in Japan. This leads me to wonder whether the ‘naked friendship’ principle plays a large role in creating such a peaceful, friendly and respectful society. To learn more about ‘naked friendship’ and how you can get in on the bathtime fun, read 3 Japanese Baths That Will Change Your Life.
19. Increased Sense of Play
Honestly, the bathtub is still the place to play! Maybe you think of it as the place for a serious soak, where you do nothing but close your eyes and sweat. But go back to your roots. Remember the rubber ducky? Yeah, there you go. Remember, how much fun you used to have?
Playing helps us forget our worries by staying focused on the present moment. You can take a bath in champagne or color on your walls with bathtub crayons. Why not dunk yourself in a hot cocoa bath or enjoy lemonade mint popsicles in the tub? Here you’ll find detailed instructions for these activities, as well as many more ideas for how to make bathtime fun again.
20. Cleans You Off
Oh, yeah, our final bath benefit is that a bath actually gets you clean. Contrary to the fact that some people view bathing as soaking in your own grime, immersing yourself in warm water and exfoliating the skin is going to get you clean—cleaner than a shower. Why?
Because the bathtub softens your skin first, loosening the outermost layer to prepare it for exfoliation. Then when you massage the skin with a soft towel, loofah, or Korean scrub gloves, the dead cells roll off like grass beneath the blade of a lawnmower. You are clean and wondrous and ready to sparkle in the world!
What are the benefits of cold baths?
When talking about cold baths, we’re referring to soaking in water that’s approximately 10–15° Celsius or 50–59° Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes.
Some cold bath benefits are backed up by science, while others are still being studied. It’s already proven that cold water baths will turn on the body’s anti-inflammatory response, as well as improve circulation. Other benefits of taking a cold bath are backed by some research, but not quite enough research to make a solid case. This includes the ability to improve mental health, help with weight loss, and make your hair look better.
One benefit that surprisingly isn’t backed by science but is that many still believe is that cold baths increase muscle generation. For more, check out Can An Ice Bath Help You?
What is balneotherapy?
Balneotherapy involves immersing oneself in a mineral-rich bath, hot spring or cold spring with the express purpose of mitigating the symptoms of a disease. Balneotherapy could involve soaking in Epsom salts with the hope to relieve pain from fibromyalgia. It could also refer to visiting hot springs.
Different types of hot springs correlate to a different kind of balneotherapy. Chloride springs, for example, contain salt and are recommended for joint pain and poor circulation. A Simple Hot Spring is believed by many to help neuralgia and arteriosclerosis. And a Sulfer Hot Springs like those found in Saratoga, New York are thought to help with arthritis and digestive disorders