Ever wonder, "Are hot tubs good for me?" Well, you're not alone. Many people, especially those considering purchasing a hot tub, ask this question. We all know the soothing sensation of soaking in a hot tub. But is there more to it than just relaxation?

Diving below the surface, hot tubbing has several little-known health benefits. From stress relief to physical wellness, there's more to these luxurious hot tubs than meets the eye. But, like anything, it's not without its risks. So, let's get into it and explore the science behind hot tubs and your health.

Are hot tubs suitable for you?

Hot tubs are good for you and 100% safe for most people. They offer health benefits like lower blood pressure, better sleep quality, and improved insulin regulation. 

Numerous studies suggest that regular hot tub use can have health benefits beyond simply feeling good. Let's explore this further.

First up mental health. The warm, bubbling water provides a serene environment that allows our minds to unwind and refocus. It's no surprise that hot tubs are often recommended for stress reduction. But that's not all. Studies report that hot tubs could potentially ease symptoms of depression, making them an exciting avenue to explore in the realm of natural mental health methods.

Turning our attention to the physical health benefits, hot tubs offer far more than pure relaxation. Hydrotherapy, or water use for pain relief and treatment, has recognized benefits. It's been shown to relieve joint pain and reduce muscle soreness. Anecdotal evidence also hints at improving skin complexity, as the warm water & steam open our pores, aiding the removal of dirt, oil, and other debris. On top of that, plenty of evidence suggests regular immersion in hot tubs can reduce inflammation. 

Health Benefits of Hot Tubs

Beyond just providing a spot to unwind, hot tubs have several therapeutic uses that can majorly impact physical, mental, and emotional health. 

1. Relieves Stress

One of the significant health benefits of hot tubs is their ability to relieve stress. Submerging ourselves in the warm water can help reduce mental and physical stress. The warm water and massaging hydrotherapy jets promote blood flow, aiding in natural pain relief, muscle soreness relief, and relaxation.

This relaxation can be enhanced with additional sensory experiences such as soft music, low lighting, or aromatherapy (essential oils). Studies and expert opinions, like this 2018 randomized intervention study, support that hot water immersion positively affects the nervous system, explicitly lowering stress levels and contributing to higher subjective happiness in individuals. 

While not a cure for mental health issues, hot tubs provide a valuable opportunity for individuals to relax and improve their mood, an incredibly effective tool for those in high-stress professional environments.

2. Manages Muscle Aches

When we engage in strenuous exercise, our muscles will inevitably ache. Fortunately, hydrotherapy is widely recognized for its effectiveness in muscle recovery and pain relief. The warm water and massaging jets of a hot tub provide a multifaceted therapeutic approach by loosening tense muscles, increasing blood flow, and promoting healing, thereby reducing the risk of overuse injuries and aiding in athlete recovery.

But how? The science behind this natural pain management leverages heat, buoyancy, and gentle compression to alleviate muscular aches, enhance oxygenation throughout the body, and facilitate a more relaxed muscle state. 

While hot tubs are powerful at-home treatments for releasing muscle tension and improving overall well-being, sessions should be limited to 15 minutes to prevent excessive blood flow and potential swelling. 

3. Helps Heart Health

Indulging in a hot tub could help improve our cardiovascular health. Warm water helps open our blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more freely and significantly enhancing blood circulation.

Regular hot tub use can benefit cardiovascular health by improving blood circulation and vascular function. Warm water immersion helps open blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more freely and reducing the strain on the heart by making it easier to pump blood throughout the body. 

This can lead to decreased blood pressure and is considered safe for individuals with treated high blood pressure. Studies have indicated that frequent hot baths or hot tub use could lower the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and reduce cardiovascular risk and mortality, especially in those unable to perform regular exercise. 

However, it's essential to consult with a healthcare provider before using a hot tub, especially for those with heart disease or health conditions, as the increased heart rate and the stress from heat can be dangerous for some individuals. It’s also worth noting that hot tubs should serve as a complement to a heart-healthy lifestyle, not as a crutch. 

4. Improves Your Sleep

Most Americans have trouble sleeping. And while many have clinically diagnosed sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea, stress is the root cause of most of our sleep problems. 

Hot tubs offer a potential solution for restless nights. By leveraging the combined effects of heat, buoyancy, and massage to help the body destress and relax, you can set the stage for a restful night's sleep. Research supports the idea that the relaxation derived from hot tub use can facilitate more profound and more peaceful sleep, with studies highlighting its effectiveness in treating insomnia and improving sleep quality in individuals with conditions like fibromyalgia. 

But it’s not just relaxation; physical changes signal your brain that it’s time to sleep. When you first enter the hot tub, your core body temperature spikes as it adjusts to the hot water. It then begins to fall, mimicking the natural drop in body temperature that signals the brain it's time for sleep. Hot tubs kickstart the natural sleeping process, helping you fall asleep sooner and reducing tossing and turning. 

5. Improved Impaired Insulin Sensitivity

There's evidence suggesting that regular hot tub use can improve insulin sensitivity. It could help those with type 2 diabetes manage their condition more effectively.

Research indicates that regular hot tub use may enhance insulin sensitivity, potentially aiding in the more effective management of type 2 diabetes. This hypothesis is supported by studies suggesting that thermal therapy, such as sauna or hot bath usage, could positively impact individuals with impaired insulin sensitivity

However, hot tubs are not a cure-all for insulin sensitivity. If you struggle with insulin regulation, please consult your doctor or healthcare professional. 

6. Weight-loss

Though hot tubs are not a replacement for a healthy diet & regular physical exercise, there’s early evidence that regular use may aid weight loss. As your body temperature & heart rate increase, your body burns more calories. The massage from hot tub jets stimulates the lymphatic system, enhancing fluid movement and toxin removal, which is particularly beneficial for those with sedentary lifestyles. 

Additionally, human and animal studies suggest that heat therapy can reduce body weight and adiposity, potentially through mechanisms involving nitric oxide and heat shock protein 70 expression. 

However, significant weight loss also requires a balanced diet and regular exercise, indicating that hot tub use should be part of a comprehensive lifestyle rather than a standalone solution.

7. Reduced Joint inflammation

Just as with muscle soreness, regular hot tub use can significantly alleviate joint stress and inflammation, providing essential relief, especially for those with conditions like arthritis or other types of chronic joint pain. The buoyancy of water reduces the pressure on joints by creating a sense of weightlessness, aiding in rest, recovery, and improved mobility. 

This effect is further enhanced by the massaging action of hot tub jets, which promote increased blood flow to the joints, facilitating faster recovery. The warmth of the water, combined with the soothing massage from the jets, effectively reduces inflammation and joint pain, thereby increasing the range of motion. 

When utilized regularly, hot tub therapy can offer long-term benefits in combating joint inflammation, increasing joint range of motion, and improving overall joint health.

Who should avoid hot tubs?

While we've highlighted the numerous health benefits of hot tubs, it's crucial to note that they're not for everyone. People with certain health conditions like heart disease, skin disorders, or pregnant women should consult their doctor before using a hot tub. It's also not recommended for young children due to the risk of overheating.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the health benefits of hot tubs?

Hot tubs can have numerous health benefits, ranging from stress relief and muscle ache management to improved heart health and lowered blood pressure. They can also enhance sleep quality, boost insulin sensitivity, aid weight loss, reduce inflammation, and increase range of motion.

What precautions should I take when using a hot tub?

Follow safety guidelines, such as maintaining water temperature and cleanliness. These measures help maximize the therapeutic benefits of hot tubs and prevent complications like Hot Tub Lung, typically caused by bacteria in improperly maintained water.

How can hot tubs aid in weight loss?

Hot tubs can boost your metabolic rate and aid in weight loss by promoting healthy blood circulation and stimulating the body's natural waste elimination and digestion processes.

How can hot tubs enhance sleep quality?

The warmth of the hot tub water can help relax your muscles and soothe your mind, setting you up for a deeper and more restful sleep. It can also normalize your body temperature, a critical factor influencing sleep quality.

Why is it necessary to shower after using a hot tub?

Showering after a hot tub session rids your skin of chemicals such as chlorine or bromine. These disinfectants are needed to keep the tub clean and safe, but they may also cause skin irritation if not properly washed off.

Is hot tub therapy suitable for everyone?

Although hot tub therapy can be beneficial, it might not suit everyone. Seniors, individuals with heart problems or high blood pressure, those who are pregnant, and those with specific conditions such as diabetes should consult their healthcare provider before using a hot tub.

March 08, 2024 — andrei newman