A comment by my acupuncturist inspired me to look further into the benefits of a good old warm bath. It seems that the Japanese people (and monkeys around the world) know a thing or two about the health benefits of soaking in hot water...and have done it for centuries. The Japanese call hot springs, bathing facilities and spas "onsen", and they can be found in every corner of the country. There is even a "word" for the benefits of an onsen...
the treatment of disease by bathing in mineral springs.
Japanese scientists have been documenting the positive impact onsen can have on human health since the early eighteenth century. Studies have shown that hot spring water, depending on its mineral composition, can help people recover from certain conditions, including rheumatism, neuralgia (nerve pain), hypertension and skin diseases. One scientist says “There is a physiological mechanism of keeping the body temperature warm by some types of hot springs that differs from plain tap water”. The Japanese are so serious about their onsens that the government created the Hot Spring Law, and crack down on any rule breakers.
But here in Australia we sadly don't have this wonderful warm mineral water bubbling in abundance from the ground. So are there still health benefits of soaking in a tub of Sydney Water? Apparently so, with the Top 3 being..
1. Bathing can benefit your muscles, joints and bones. Unlike a hot shower, soaking in warm water allows the heat to penetrate through our aching muscles, and can warm us in winter down to our bones. For people with osteoarthritis, a warm bath can help alleviate some of the discomfort. Struggling in the Blue Mountains winter? just get that bath running and let the therapy begin.
2. Bathing benefits the nervous system. Submerging our bodies in warm water has substantial benefits to our nervous system, and has been used for centuries as a way of relieving stress and anxiety. Try adding some essential oils to help with the relaxation process.
3. Bathing benefits the heart! Some studies say that when we slip into the hot water, our heart rate goes up and our blood pressure comes down. By using heat to induce better blood flow and circulation, you're giving your a body a mini-workout. Bathing is better than exercise??... hmmmm..
Various other suggested benefits include gastrointestinal health (got a gut ache? take a bath), improved lung function (inhale that steam!), relief of cold and flu symptoms, improved immune health and last but not least, can assist the birthing process!!
So next time you are having that long, long, long hot shower before you step out into a Wintery day, perhaps consider a bath! It doesn't have to be a decadent 1 hour soak, just 10 minutes of lolling in warm water will warm you to your core and set you up for the day.
Of course it is always advised that a health professional is consulted if pre-existing health conditions or diseases are present before embarking on any form of hydrotherapy.