The concept of self-care is relatively new, originating as a medical term in the 60s and 70s. Nowadays, we define self-care as dedicated time to do anything healthy and positive to improve physical or mental health. It looks different for everybody. Sometimes self-care is practicing yoga. Sometimes it's setting aside time to read a book. Sometimes it's soaking in a warm bath.
Baths have been popular since the ancient world. Besides personal hygiene and healthy skin being obvious perks, making a habit of soaking in baths can have a long list of health benefits.
1. May reduce cardiovascular diseaseA recent study in Japan followed 30,076 men and women and their bathing habits from 1990-2009. They found that those who bathed daily were shown to have 35 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease and 23 percent lower risk of stroke. Though the exact reasoning is unclear, warm baths can lower blood pressure and improve blood vessel function, which could have long term positive results.
2. Soaking burns caloriesIn 2017, researchers at Loughborough University studied two groups of men. One was told to cycle for an hour. The other was asked to soak in a hot bath for an hour. The men who cycled did burn more calories overall, but it was discovered that those who soaked burned about 140 calories, the same as they would from a half-hour walk.
3. Anti-inflammatory responseThis same study showed that those who soaked for an hour had the same anti-inflammatory response that results from exercise. This response is important as it helps to protect the body from infection and illness. Chronic inflammation, which often occurs in those with long term illness, means a reduced ability to fight off disease. This could mean that habitual soaking may help to reduce chronic inflammation.
4. Opens pores and sinusesWe know that the pores in our skin get clogged daily from makeup, lotions, and even the environment. Steam and heat from a bath naturally open up our pores, making it easier to flush out dirt and toxins. Similar to a humidifier, steam also helps to unclog our sinuses by loosening things up.
5. Better sleepThere are many studies on how to improve sleep, and this one example focuses on bathing before bedtime. Researchers studied an older group and a younger group who both chose to bathe right before bedtime and then monitored their sleeping patterns. Both groups experienced less movement in sleep, reported feelings of warmth, and better sleep overall.
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