Get in Hot Water; It’s Good Exercise

Having fun at Iron Mountain Hot Springs

Get in Hot Water; It’s Good Exercise

A study published this year reveals that soaking in hot water, called passive heating, provides many of the health benefits of active exercise without the exertion of maintaining a workout regimen. The study, “The effect of passive heating on heat shock protein 70 and interleukin-6: A possible treatment tool for metabolic diseases?” by S. H. Faulkner, S. Jackson, G. Fatania, and C. A. Leicht appeared in the March 9, edition of the journal Temperature. The authors concluded that an hour soak burns as many calories as a half-hour walk, helps control blood sugar, and boosts anti-inflammatory activity.

Researchers at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom recruited 14 men, some lean and some overweight, and compared the effects of an hour’s cycling and an hour’s soak in water at 104 degrees Fahrenheit that raised the person’s core temperature by 1 degree. Those who soaked burned about 140 calories, less than those who cycled, but their peak blood sugar, which was monitored for 24 hours, was 10 percent less after eating. Positive changes in the inflammatory response were similar in each group, an important benefit for people with some chronic diseases like diabetes.

The study is part of a growing scientific literature that suggests passive heating such as hot spring soaking can be a useful way to improve health and wellbeing. For example, researchers at the University of Oregon reported last year in the Journal of Physiology that sedentary people who participated in eight weeks of hot-water immersion showed improvements in blood pressure and vascular function at least equal to exercise training for such people.

Those benefits come from the heat of the water alone. At Iron Mountain Hot Springs, you get all that plus the benefits of the minerals that come with your soak.

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Gene Stowe

Gene Stowe was a reporter for The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer for 13 years and head of the writing program at Trinity School at Greenlawn, a four-time U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School in South Bend, Ind., for 10 years before he became a full-time freelance writer in 2008. His first book, Inherit the Land: Jim Crow Meets Miss Maggie’s Will, was published in 2006. He lives in Monroe, N.C.