Study suggests a hot bath a day might keep the heart disease away
It was just last year when a study concluded that a warm bath before bed should indeed help you to sleep. Now, a new study suggests that regular hot soaks may also lower the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
Conducted by a consortium of Japanese research institutes, the study ultimately tracked and evaluated a total of 30,076 middle-aged Japanese participants over a period starting in 1990 and ending in December 2009 (or when the individual died, whichever came first).
At the start of the study, each person filled out a questionnaire describing their bathing habits, along with information such as their exercise routines, diet, alcohol intake, body weight, average sleep duration, medical history, and medications presently being used.
Throughout the 19-year monitoring period, 2,097 cases of cardiovascular disease occurred within the study group – these included 275 heart attacks, 53 sudden cardiac deaths, and 1,769 strokes. After potentially influencing factors were accounted for, it was determined that taking a daily hot bath (as opposed to once or twice weekly, or not at all) was associated with a 28-percent lower overall risk of cardiovascular disease, and a 26-percent lower risk of stroke.
A more detailed analysis revealed that the hotter the water, the greater the reduction of risk of cardiovascular disease. It was also noted, however, that bathing in overly-hot water could increase the risk of overheating-induced drowning deaths, particularly in older people.
Although the perceived protective effect of frequent warm baths isn't entirely understood, it is believed that it may be linked to previous findings which suggest that "the effects of heat on the body are not dissimilar to those of exercise." Additionally, the current study noted that regular tub bathing was associated with a reduced risk of hypertension.
The scientists additionally point out that the participants practised Japanese-style bathing, in which the body is immersed right up to the shoulders. This may have had a bearing on the effects of their baths.
A paper on the study was recently published in the journal Heart.