We tend to focus so much on how many calories we burn during a good workout that it’s easy to forget we’re burning calories all day long — the only difference is that an elevated heartbeat (through exercise) helps burn them faster.
So, it’s not exactly surprising that taking a bath can help you shed some calories. Researchers from Loughborough and Leicester Universities in the U.K. decided to see just how calories burned during a hot soak in the tub compared to calories burned during other activities. They fitted 10 “unfit” men with rectal thermometers (ouch) and then asked them to take a bath one day and cycle the next. The findings? An hour spent in a “hot” bath — no temperature mentioned — burns about 126 calories, similar to the number burned during a 30-minute walk.
I was expecting to see a claim that baths can replace workouts, but no such luck. “We would always encourage increased physical activity and exercise as the best way to maintain good health,” said lead researcher Dr. Steve Faulkner, according to the Daily Mail.
What is more interesting about this study is that hot baths did a better job at lowering blood sugar levels than cycling.
“We discovered the participants who bathed had, on average, 10 percent lower peak glucose levels in comparison to the exercise, which was completely unexpected,” Dr. Faulkner said. That’s quite a bit — especially for people trying to prevent or reverse Type 2 diabetes.
“We think the reason is that the bath may encourage the release of heat shock proteins, which may help lower blood sugar levels by improving insulin controlled glucose uptake,” he added.
More research needs to be done on this because it could lead to future diabetes treatments. I’ll be the first one to volunteer for the hot baths portion of the research, too.