Taking Baths Could Promote Heart Health (As If We Need Another Reason)

mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant By Sarah Regan
mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant
Sarah Regan is a writer, registered yoga instructor, and Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Woman in Bath

Image by Trinette Reed / Stocksy

Taking a warm, soothing bath is a great way to unwind, promote better sleep, and gift yourself some ever-necessary self-care. And according to new research out of Japan, regular baths may also be a way to lower your risk for cardiovascular diseases.

That includes heart disease, stroke, heart attack, and sudden cardiac death—and stats say someone in the U.S. dies from these diseases every 37 seconds.

But with so many of us spending more time at home due to the coronavirus, there's never been a better time to de-stress and tend to your heart with a nice bath. Here's what the research found.

The more baths the better.

Researchers gathered their data from an existing 19-year-long study by the Japan Public Health Center, looking at a total of 30,076 people who had filled out questionnaires on bathing habits.

During those 19 years, 1,769 strokes, 275 heart attacks, and 53 sudden cardiac deaths occurred. The researchers accounted for other variables like lifestyles, exercise, and diet and in the end concluded a daily hot bath was associated with a 28% lower risk for cardiovascular diseases and a 26% lower risk of stroke.

And yes, "daily," appeared to be key. That same association was not as strong for those who bathed only once a week. Additionally, the temperature of your bath seems to matter, too, with warm water associated with a 26% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and hot associated with a 35% lower risk.

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Looking at hypertension.

While this is an observational study, one explanation for the association, according to researchers, is the way exposure to heat can reduce hypertension.

Heat has similar effects on the body as exercise, the study authors note, and "a beneficial effect of tub bathing on risk of [cardiovascular disease] may in part be due to a reduced risk of developing hypertension."

It should also be noted that the researchers were sure to mention taking hot baths is not without risk the older you get, with previous research suggesting seniors' hearts may be vulnerable to abrupt changes in temperature (such as a hot bath during winter months), leading to unexpected sudden death. However, younger people generally don't need to worry about that.

Want to get started with a bath regimen? Take one every day this week with these seven bath rituals for each chakra. And for other heart-healthy ideas, give these four natural ways to reduce your blood pressure a try.

Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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