In America, a lot of us are struggling with losing those extra pounds we gained during Covid lockdown. Throughout history, people have employed a wide variety of clever—and sometimes downright bizarre—measures in their efforts to lose weight. For instance, according to a May 2017 Time article, “At the turn of the 20th century, it was fashionable to chew food until liquefied, sometimes up to 722 times before swallowing.” And we’ve all heard about those strange diet fads involving everything from intentional tapeworm infestations and cotton ball ingestion to sedation, abstinence from sex, and, after it was observed that many overweight individuals lived near swamplands, swamp avoidance.
Today, we have far more practical and effective methods to aid in weight loss at our disposal. A hot tub can be amongst the more enjoyable tools in your weight loss toolkit. While soaking in a hot tub doesn’t burn many calories—it’s estimated that sitting in hot water only burns about 3% more calories than sitting on your couch—there are, in fact, several impressive hot tub health benefits for weight loss. So how can you leverage the power of a hot tub to achieve and maintain weight loss?
Hot Tubs Provide Stress Reduction
Stress can skew the body’s hormones in dramatic ways. One of the most significant ways involves cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone.” The effects of cortisol can be devastating to people who are trying to lose pounds, and even to those who are trying to maintain a healthy weight. Cortisol, which is associated with the body’s “fight or
flight” response to a stressor or threat, affects the body in three ways that can make weight loss difficult or impossible:
- Cortisol can trigger many individuals to crave high-fat, high-sodium foods in an
effort to self-soothe and cope with stress. These foods can easily result in weight gain.
- Cortisol can prevent your body from building new muscle by reducing testosterone levels. More muscle means a faster rate of burning calories, which in turn drives weight loss; high cortisol levels halt that muscle-building process. This can also result in a longer healing process for muscle injuries, which can subsequently make it difficult and painful to exercise.
- Consistently high levels of cortisol can increase the amount of body fat, particularly in the abdominal region, by triggering the body’s fat storage response.
The adverse impact of high cortisol levels is well-documented. Here’s where a
hot tub may be beneficial: When you’re soaking in hot water, your body’s muscles relax, and your breathing slows. The net effect is profound relaxation and a decrease in cortisol levels.
See also: Hot Tub Hydrotherapy: Top 3 Benefits of Daily Water
With an outdoor hot tub, you’ll enjoy the added benefits of fresh air and time in nature, which has been found to reduce stress levels by relaxing the brain’s high-level function control center, the prefrontal cortex. Researchers found that this had the power to decrease cortisol levels by sixteen percent in just a few days.
Injury Recovery to Get You Back to Exercising
Exercise is a critical component of most successful weight loss journeys. As such, it’s vital that you stay active—which can be very difficult if you’ve suffered an injury. A hot tub might be able to assist you in your recovery efforts, as the hot water can help temporarily relieve pain and promote healing.
High-impact cardio exercises such as running and cycling are amongst the most effective activities for weight loss and the maintenance of a healthy physique. But high-impact exercises frequently result in injuries. These injuries can be slow to heal, which can ultimately lead to weight gain due to inactivity.
Fortunately, improved circulation can aid in recovery from an injury. Hot water causes capillaries and blood vessels to dilate, which allows blood to flow more freely within the body. This increased blood flow to the injured area—and to your body as a whole—results in accelerated healing, because the body uses the circulatory system to
transport vital healing resources to the site of the injury.
As with every injury recovery plan, it’s important to consult a physician before using a hot tub. Your doctor may recommend special measures during different phases of the healing process.
Improve Your Sleep With the Use of a Hot Tub
Many Americans struggle to fall and stay asleep at night. Unfortunately, this can make for a more challenging weight loss journey, as chronic insomnia and sleep disturbances have a dramatic impact on hormone levels and other body
systems. In fact, a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests the effect is not just physiological, but also behavioral. The study found that, on average, sleep-deprived individuals ate 300 more calories per day than individuals who consistently got a good night’s sleep.
Consider the following:
- Chronic insomnia will elevate cortisol levels. As mentioned above, cortisol is known to increase hunger levels.
- Sleep deprivation increases levels of ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry. This makes it difficult to maintain a healthy eating schedule.
- Poor sleep habits will decrease leptin levels. Leptin is a hormone that makes you feel satisfied after eating, so lower leptin levels make it far easier to overeat.
- Sleeplessness can shift your body into “survival mode,” which results in a dramatically slower metabolism as the body attempts to conserve resources.
- Chronic insomnia can increase serotonin levels, which in turn can motivate people to eat foods that are high in carbohydrates
- With sleep deprivation, mitochondria—the powerhouses of the cells—begin to shut down, resulting in a reduction in the amount of sugar that your body is processing. This can lead to weight gain, as the affected fat cells may be as much as 30 percent less capable of dealing with insulin.
So how can a hot tub help combat insomnia and weight gain? Hot water is very effective at promoting relaxation, so many find that a hot tub can be wonderful for preparing the body for a good night’s sleep. Some individuals may find that a soak in hot water is even more effective than other, far less healthy alternatives for achieving deep relaxation, such as imbibing alcohol—a substance that will only contribute to weight gain. What’s more, hot tubs can help temporarily ease the musculoskeletal pain that is a primary cause of insomnia for many people.
Find Temporary Relief from Pain
For those who struggle to exercise due to chronic pain from conditions such as arthritis, studies indicate that hot tubs may be effective at providing temporary relief from that discomfort while also improving range of motion. This temporary relief can improve quality of life while making it easier to sleep, exercise, and stay active.
Hot water can be extremely soothing to the muscles and joints. The heat also improves circulation, which speeds the healing of injuries while simultaneously promoting overall better health. Immersion can also reduce tension, which is another key contributor for many chronic pain sufferers.
Of course, it’s important to consult a physician before beginning any weight-loss routine. But for individuals who struggle to lose pounds or to maintain a healthy weight, a hot tub may be a valuable—and enjoyable—weapon in the battle for healthy weight loss.