Hot Baths: Why We Should Follow Churchill’s Example
I’m just like Churchill. No, I don’t mean in physical stature – even allowing for the lockdown madness I still wouldn’t share his BMI. It’s certainly not a penchant for Cuban cigars and cognac that binds us together either. So what?
I’m talking about his love of the bath. It is said he took at least two, long hot baths daily. They were drawn by his butler Mr Inches who used a thermometer to keep it at a specific temperature. Unfortunately, I have recently furloughed my butler so have had to learn how to run my own bath (it’s not too tricky). Baths were not only important to Churchill’s well-being, but he often dictated from the bathtub (his secretary would sit just outside the bathroom, portable typewriter on her lap) and he took meetings from there, as well.
We all know indulging in a bath feels great, but why exactly? And how can we maximise the ancient healing benefits of the bath?
Baths help improve the quality of your sleep
Researchers found that the optimal timing of bathing or taking a warm shower is about 90 minutes before going to bed. They stimulate the body’s thermoregulatory system, causing a marked increase in the circulation of blood from the internal core of the body to the peripheral sites of the hands and feet. This results in efficient removal of body heat and decline in body temperature. Therefore, if baths are taken at the right biological time – 1 to 2 hours before bedtime – they will aid the natural circadian process and increase one’s chances of not only falling asleep quickly but also of experiencing better quality sleep.
Magnesium baths help to improve recovery
If I sound like a broken record, it’s because I’ve been recommending using magnesium flakes in a bath to clients for some years now, and with very good reason. If you are a regular exerciser, they help you to cope with DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and can help to improve recovery time.
We are seeing more and more people presenting with symptoms that may indicate a magnesium deficiency and due to the way its currently measured, (serum) it often goes undiagnosed. Supplementing with magnesium glycinate can also help with sleep, and symptoms such as low mood and fatigue. However I’d advise doing so only under guidance as there are many different types of magnesium available and much confusion (10 at my last count). Here’s a great guide if you are interested.
Bathing can improve cardio-metabolic health
There is some research from Loughborough University that suggests having a hot bath may improve some of the the markers for various metabolic diseases such as blood pressure, blood glucose/diabetes and inflammation. The potential mechanism for this lies in the exciting area of heat shock proteins. The researchers compared exercise in active people to bathing in inactive people who are unable to exercise. While not as effective as exercising, the research found that a humble bath may offer an alternative. My take? Why not do both….