There’s a certain kind of magic to bathing. A hot bath can be a way to indulge in spa-like bliss at home, complete with scented soaps, soft music and a good book. Others use daily showering as a mini meditation to reflect on the day and enjoy some much-needed alone time. But whether you’re a morning or night bather, or prefer showers or baths, our cleansing rituals do more than just keep us smelling nice. From shiver-worthy cold showers to steamy hot baths, let’s take a look at the benefits of different types of bathing.
Some Like It Hot
Who doesn’t love a hot shower or bath? It’s a nice way to relax and let off some steam (no pun intended). But it turns out they can also help us be that much more healthy.
Shed some calories while soaking.
When it comes to burning calories, you probably don’t think about relaxing in the tub. But according to a recent study, one hour of soaking in a hot bath (104 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact) burned as many calories as half an hour of walking. We won’t even begin to suggest this is a good substitute for exercise, but that’s a pretty nice bonus for taking a hot bath.
Lower your blood sugar.
That same study found that when participants took a hot bath, their peak blood sugar after eating was about 10% lower than when they exercised instead. Although the overall blood sugar response to both activities was about the same, it’s still worth noting that it had a noticeable effect on blood sugar levels after eating. But again, you should still exercise — we’re not letting you off that easily.
Keep your pores pretty.
When we take a steamy shower or a hot bath, it opens up our pores and flushes out the dirt and toxins that build up throughout the day. Aside from just feeling cleaner, it also helps us look and feel better about ourselves when we take care of our skin.
Get steamy with your sinuses.
Much like a humidifier or breathing over a pot of boiling water, a hot and steamy shower can help alleviate dry or congested sinuses. Not to get too graphic, but the steam can help loosen built-up phlegm when you’re feeling plugged up.
Sleep more soundly.
Studies have suggested that a nice hot bath or shower at night could actually help us get a better night of sleep. Subjects of all ages slept more soundly when bathing in warm water before bed — but timing is important. Our body’s circadian rhythm naturally slows down in the evening to tell us it’s time to sleep, so if we bathe immediately before bed we risk heating up our temperatures and increasing our alertness.
Playing It Cool
It may not be the most popular bathing style, but cold showers actually have their own set of health benefits too. So if you can chill when things get chilly, it may be worth the effort.
Make your hair and skin silky.
Since hot showers open up your pores, it only makes sense that cold showers tighten your pores. So which is better: hot or cold? It’s all about your individual needs. If you’re prone to dry skin, a cold shower will help you retain natural oils in your hair and keep your skin hydrated. But if your pores are due for a cleansing, steam it up!
Wash away the blues.
When we’re exposed to cold water, it stimulates the production of noradrenaline and beta-endorphins, all while sending electrical impulses from our nerve endings to our brain. And according to one study, all of these chemical reactions could have an antidepressant effect on us. Of course, anyone with depression should talk to their physician to see what’s right for them, but why not also try a cold shower the next time you’re feeling blue?
Get your blood flowing.
Our bodies naturally react to the cold by increasing our heart rate, which in turn pumps our blood quicker throughout our whole body. While the heart is pumping more efficiently, our overall circulation is improved even after we hop out of the shower.
Wake up without coffee.
You’ve probably seen it in movies: Someone passes out and their friends throw them in a cold shower to wake them up. Well there’s some truth to that! A lot of people find that taking a cold shower really wakes them up in the morning and gives them the initial energy boost they need to get started. Goodbye coffee, hello cold shower!
Exercise up your willpower.
A regular routine is the cornerstone of so many successful people. So when you force yourself to take a cold shower every day (something a lot of people would avoid), it helps you take control of your own schedule and practice self-governance. What’s next on the docket? Maybe a morning run or an hour of phone-free meditation. It’s up to you!
Like most things in life, there are two sides to every coin. So maybe it’s time to switch up your bathing routine and try another temperature, just to see what it’s like! Let us know what you get out of your daily bath or shower by commenting below.