Hot baths could burn up to 240 calories ‘equivalent of a brisk 30 minute walk’ – Dr Mosley

Dr Hilary offers advice on sharing bath water

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The fast-paced nature of modern living means many of us rarely fit in a hot bath but research suggests it is worth taking the time out to have one. The soothing effects of having a hot bath will be familiar, but the pleasurable pastime may also aid weight loss. The finding was recently revealed in an episode of Just One Thing – with Michael Mosley.

Dr Mosley cited a small study conducted by Loughborough University which he took part in.

“A group of us were asked to lie in a hot bath for an hour, fitted with equipment to measure how many calories we burned,” he explained.

“We also had to have a rectal thermometer inserted.”

During the bathing session Dr Mosley burnt 240 calories – the equivalent of a brisk 30 minute walk, he revealed.

“One of the first things that we were looking at is the energy expenditure while you’re in the bath,” exercise physiologist Steve Faulkner from Loughborough University told the BBC.

“And what we found was an 80 percent increase in energy expenditure just as a result of sitting in the bath for the course of an hour.”

What accounts for this effect?

Faulkner attributed the effect to heat shock proteins – specific proteins that are made when cells are briefly exposed to temperatures above their normal growth temperature.

“Heat shock proteins are molecules that are made by all cells of the human body in response to stresses,” Faulkner explained in The Conversation.

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“In the long term, raised levels of these proteins may help the function of insulin and improve blood sugar control.”

This is significant because without insulin, the cells of your body are unable to use sugar for energy.

This can lead to weight gain over time.

Dr Mosley observed an improvement in blood sugar control during the study.

“What was particularly surprising was the hot bath also reduced my blood sugar response to a later meal,” he explained.

“Which is good, because persistently high blood sugar damages arteries and nerves.”

The finding is significant because poor blood sugar management is a precursor to diabetes.

According to Dr Mosley, having a hot bath is linked to a host of other health benefits.

He cited a small study conducted in 2016, in which researchers from the University of Oregon showed that sitting in a hot bath four of five times a week led to lower blood pressure and reduced arterial stiffness.

High blood blood pressure and arterial stiffness can lead to cardiovascular problems.

Speaking on the podcast, Professor Jason Ellis, a professor of psychology and director of the Northumbria Sleep Centre, outlined another key benefit.

“Another thing we’ve got to think about here is not just the physical impact, but the psychological impact.”

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