Bathing has a long and detailed history. Submerging ourselves in water, whether in a bathing receptacle or in a natural body of water is something we do for both personal hygiene, leisure and health. There is nothing more enjoyable than going for a swim in the ocean on a warm day or having a hot fragrant bath in the cooler months.
Hydrotherapy has been practiced for centuries. Both the use of hot and cold water can have beneficial effects on the body. Boiling water can be sourced naturally from a hot spring and many places like New Zealand and Iceland have naturally occurring hot pools that people can utilize to take advantage of the mineral rich waters. Similarly, cryotherapy or taking ice baths, can help to alleviate muscle strain and many athletes including runners will submerge themselves in freezing waters to counteract the damage or strain induced by exercise.
Regardless of the temperature, the benefits of taking a bath have been scientifically proven and can ensure optimal health of the mind and body.
Here are the health benefits of taking a bath:
Bathing can improve heart health
Although bathing in high temperatures can put unnecessary strain on your heart, especially if you have a pre-existing heart condition, taking a warm bath will make your heart beat faster and can give it a healthy work out.
Taking a bath may help you to breathe easier
Being immersed in water past your chest with your head out, can have a good influence on your lung capacity and oxygen intake. There are two factors that contribute to this; the temperature of the water and the pressure the water places on your chest and lungs. When the water is warmer and your heart is beating faster, your oxygen intake can be improved and the steam created can clear your sinuses and chest.
Your brain and nervous system can benefit from bathing
Submergence in water can reduce pain and inflammation and also calm the nervous system, reducing the levels of stress and anxiety in the body and improving your mood. Hydrotherapy can help people who suffer from multiple sclerosis as the temperature and pressure of the water gently relieves the spine of pain and discomfort.
Bathing can benefit your muscles, joints and bones
Stretching and moving in water has been shown to be low impact on the joints, muscles and bones, but very effective in providing an adequate workout through resistance. There is also less chance of injury for people who are at risk of falls, which makes aquatic exercise ideal for the elderly.
Take care of your blood and immunity with a bath
Not only does a warm bath make the blood flow easier, it also makes it more oxygenated by allowing you to breathe deeper and slower, particularly when taking in steam. Taking a hot bath or spa can kill bacteria and improve immunity. It can relieve the symptoms of cold and flu.
Balance your hormones by bathing
Conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and some fertility issues can be assisted by bathing in colder temperatures. Hormones released by the pituitary gland such as adrenocorticotropic hormone or ACTH and other hormones such as beta endorphinand cortisol can become more balanced. Alternatively, warm water bathing can increase levels of serotonin, which is the chemical produced by the brain associated with happiness and well being.
Bathing cleanses and moisturizes your skin, hair and eyes
Exposure to fluid through bathing and steaming is a great way to ensure hydration of the body in all aspects. The human body is made mostly of water and that is why we are encouraged to drink plenty of it. But soaking in it is also extremely beneficial. We can enhance this by adding certain oils or salts to a bath or bathing in a natural body of water or pool, rich in naturally occurring minerals.
Your core body temperature will be optimal through bathing
There is no quicker and more pleasant way to regulate your body temperature than through bathing. On a cold day, taking a hot bath or spa is sure to warm you up. Going for a cold ocean swim in the height of summer is undeniably the best way to cool off.
Evidence has shown that bathing, whether in cold or hot water; at home in a vessel or out in a natural body of water can have many health benefits without adverse effects. However, it is advised that a health professional is consulted if pre-existing health conditions or diseases are present before embarking on any form of hydrotherapy.