Soak It Up, Seniors

man in waterfall during winter time at ironmountain hot springs

Soak It Up, Seniors

Health benefits of hot springs bathing are especially attractive to seniors and older adults.

While most people of any age can enjoy the physical, psychological, and social benefits of hot springs soaking, the attraction is especially high among people who have reached an age with more aches and pains. One study attributes much of the fast-growing popularity of resorts and spas to the aging generation that has more interest in maintaining activity, appearance and health than their parents and grandparents.

Soak Perks for Seniors

Seniors at Iron Mountain Hot SpringsGenerations of practice around the world and modern scientific studies of the practice called “passive heating for human health” have demonstrated the medical and personal value of soaking on many levels. Physically, that includes a reduction in inflammation and blood sugar by raising the body temperature without performing exercise, an important alternative for many who are not capable of strenuous activity; reduction of blood pressure; improved circulation; relaxation of muscles joints; improved sleep; and enhanced skin health, especially where minerals are present. The buoyancy of the water also assists movement without putting stress on joints, an important factor for older adults with rheumatism, arthritis, or other joint pains. At the same time, the resistance of the water can make simple exercise such as stretching or walking more effective.

Social Seniors

In addition to the physical benefits, hot springs soaks can ease emotional stress and heighten a sense of wellbeing. Hot springs offer a way to socialize in a relaxed way with people of different ages and walks of life, an important experience for many older adults who might feel isolated or lonely. In Iceland, every town has a common hot springs pool where people gather casually, even with little or no clothing—a practice that some consider a deep source of the nation’s happiness despite its adverse climate. At the same time, the pools offer a chance for undisturbed meditation and relaxation.

“These public pools, or sundlaugs, serve as the communal heart of Iceland, sacred places whose affordability and ubiquity are viewed as a kind of civil right,” Dan Kois wrote in the New York Times . “Families and teenagers and older people lounge and chat in sundlaugs every day, summer or winter. Despite Iceland’s cruel climate, its remoteness and its winters of 19 hours of darkness per day, the people there are among the most contented in the world. The more local swimming pools I visited, the more convinced I became that Icelanders’ remarkable satisfaction is tied inextricably to the experience of escaping the fierce, freezing air and sinking into warm water among their countrymen.”

Closer to home, senior citizens can enjoy the health and wellness benefits of geothermal soaking at Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

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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.