Surprising Health Benefits of a Hot Shower

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There are few things in life as simple and satisfying as a hot shower. The hot water massages the muscles and the relative quiet lets you relax your mind (or, if you’re so inclined, sing your heart out!).

While therapeutic at face value, a hot shower has some surprising benefits you may not know about! That water heater in your home may have a greater say in your overall health than you think.

Fall Asleep Faster

As we briefly touched on already, a hot shower can do wonders in helping relax your muscles. The hot water also helps ease pain in the joints that can happen throughout the day and relieve any bloating that may occur as well.

When you shower, your body temperature increases as a result of exposure to the hot water, which will relax the muscles.

When you exit a hot shower and start to cool down, your heart rate and breathing will slow down, and your body will receive signals that it’s time to rest.

It’s important to note that to help you fall asleep faster, you should shower some time before bed, meaning at least half an hour to an hour before bed. If you were to get into bed immediately after showering, you run the risk of going to bed while very alert, which is the opposite of what you’re shooting for.

Cold and Flu Relief

Hot showers are perfect decongestants and can work wonders for the achy feeling that sometimes comes with the cold or flu. The added moisture can help you breathe easier as congestion may have dried since the cold came on. The steam flows through your nasal passages and then through your sinuses, which can allow you to breathe better again and hopefully ease any pain centered around your face.

Good for the Skin

A hot shower helps moisturize dry, chapped, and cracked skin. Additionally, the hot water and steam help open up your skin’s pores, allowing soap and water to come in and clean out any dirt or oil that may have built up.

Keep in mind, however, excessive hot showering can irritate acne problems. This is because when you take a hot shower, sebum, a natural oil your skin produces, gets washed away. This will trigger your body into producing more and excess sebum, which can clog your pores and make your acne worse. That’s not to say you can’t have at least a little bit of heat. However, according to Dr. David Gruener of the NYC Surgical Associates, about 5 to 10 minutes is okay for a warm shower to get yourself clean and keep the oils of your skin in place.

A Mental Relief

Taking a hot shower gives your mind a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. A good shower can feel like your troubles are going down the drain along with the soap and water. Scientifically speaking, a hot shower can bring on higher levels of a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is sometimes called “the love drug”; it’s responsible for the good feelings in social and romantic bonding and sex.

For additional relaxation, you may want to consider a few droplets of lavender aromatherapy oil carefully sprinkled in the shower. Keep in mind, though, lavender is already a fairly potent smell, so only a few drops will be necessary, or your entire home may smell like lavender for a long while.

Headache Relief

Speaking of care for your head, it’s said that hot showers can help with headaches. Sinus headaches see some relief due to the decongestive properties of steam and the hot water, and stress headaches can be eased thanks to the de-stressing that often comes with a good, hot shower.

Hair Care

A hot shower can help the health of your hair as well. Since the pores in your skin open up due to the higher temperature, the same rings true for the skin of your scalp and the cuticles of your hair shaft. When the hair shaft and pores are open, your hair will be ready to receive any nurturing product you might need such as shampoo and conditioner.

Shed Some Extra Calories

It can be tough to get in all the exercise you need in a day. While a nice, hot shower is by no means a substitute for exercise and all the benefits that come with it, there’s something to be said for the extra calories it can burn.

According to a study at Loughborough University, soaking for one hour in a hot bath (approximately 104 degrees Fahrenheit) can burn as much as a half an hour of walking can. While standing in a shower and soaking in a bath are obviously different, the principle is the same. Again, it’s not a substitute for exercise at all, but that added bonus of a few extra calories shaved is helpful.

Lower Blood Sugar

The same study at Loughborough University also indicated a connection between hot showers and baths and lower blood sugar. In the case of this particular study, the blood sugar benefits of soaking in hot water were very close to the blood sugar benefits you get from exercise. Exercise is still better for a number of reasons, but having that little bonus of hot bathing is nice.

To Wrap It Up…

While there are many who tout the benefits of a cold shower, there are hidden gems of health and well-being boosts that can be found in hot showers and baths.

If you prefer cold or even warm showers, you should know there’s nothing wrong with that. It comes down to your preference in the end, but in the case of hot showers, there are plenty of perks. In addition to relieving pain, inflammation, headaches, and sinus pressure, a good, hot shower is great for your skin, hair, and stress levels, and it’s a great way to end the day and get ready for tomorrow.

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