Like most of us, my day starts with a refreshing shower. Nothing in morning is more rejuvenating to me than a leisurely shower. Just 20-30 minutes of self-pampering under the shower can boost up my energy levels and I am all set to take charge of my daily chores. Also, in times of physical, mental or even emotional stress, bathing is a quick retreat for me. In essence, bathing is not just about cleanliness, freshness or smelling good; it has a therapeutic effect on our bodies, but we don’t realize that in the hustle bustle of our busy lives.
Owing to the soothing, calming and relaxing nature of water, bathing is beneficial for us in many ways. While generally people are aware about the hygiene benefits of bathing, most of us remain ignorant of the fact that, by selecting the correct temperature of water, we can use bathing as a preventive and curative weapon against various unwanted health conditions. Of course, you would say that it is a very subjective choice for everyone, and it depends upon a lot of factors like, age, season, health, etc. Yes surely it is. However, we may help you to make a more informed choice for your body through this article.
Hot water bath:
Besides being very soothing and vitalizing, hot water bath has multiple benefits for our body. Here we enlist them for you:
- Relieves congestion & flu: Hot water bath can be comforting for you if you are struggling with congestion or flu. The gentle heat and steamy air de-congest your lungs and respiratory tract, making it easy for you to breathe. It also helps in reducing the inflammation of your sinus and throat.
- Improves blood circulation: Warm water baths are known to increase you blood circulation. Consequently your arteries and veins expand to give more room to the blood to gush through. This improves your heart function, reduces the blood pressure and nourishes the damaged cells even in the extremities throughout the body.
- Keeps you beautiful: Hot water baths can help you to stay beautiful. No wonder spas and saunas are a new revolution in the beauty industry. It opens up your pores and cleanses you from deep within. It makes your body sweat so that it can get rid of toxins on its own. You may give a hefty dose of moisture to your skin by adding some rich oils/butters to your bath water. Adding a small amount of bathing salt to it can effectively reduce the signs of ageing like wrinkles and fine lines, as well.
- Reduce muscles soreness: It’s not without reason that warm shower is most recommended after intense workout sessions. Warm water has a healing effect on sore muscles. It improves the flexibility and elasticity of muscles and thus helps you in overcoming the problem of joint pain, overstretched muscles and small sports injuries.
- Releases stress: To me soaking your body in a tub filled with warm water is a perfect way to distress yourself after a long day. Adding a few drop of your favorite essential oil (lavender, rose, citrus, eucalyptus, etc.) can make your bathing experience a relaxing reprieve. Just avoid using peppermint oil or spice oils.
- Fights insomnia: If you are one among the many in current times who are struggling with insomnia, or having a jet lag, or just cannot fall asleep due to weird reasons (even unknown to yourself); then I would suggest before taking refuge in any medication or health supplement, try a warm water bath. It relaxes your muscles and stimulates your brain to release a hormone that regulates sleep known as Melatonin, so that you may sleep faster and better.
- Facilitates normal delivery: Expectant mothers can take warm water bath to help themselves in their early stages of labour. It is the best and easiest way to minimize labour pain so that the mother can concentrate more on the birthing process. Even after the birth, during the post partum period, warm water bath along with herbs are preferred in many cultures as they are believed to alleviate the body ache and speed up the recovery process.
- Good for diabetics: Studies have now established that bathing with warm water for a good 20-30 minutes daily can lower blood sugar levels in the body. This even helps you in shedding the extra flab. Several patients with acute diabetic conditions affirm that this “hot-tub” therapy has helped them in reducing their daily dosage of insulin.
- Men’s contraceptive: It is surely the cheapest contraceptive for men. Frequent hot water baths can increase the temperature of their testicles, which in turn affects the production and motility of their sperms. However it must be noted that their sperm count gets restored once they stop taking hot water baths.
Cold water bath:
If you are among those who prefer to have cold shower over the hot one; then don’t despair. Often known as “Scottish shower”, turning the temperature of your bathwater to sub-zero levels can also provide amazing benefits to your health. Some of them are listed below:
- Immunity booster: Regular cold showers can boost up your immunity. It increases your metabolic rate, improves the production of white blood cells and stimulates your lymphatic system, keeping infections at bay.
- Gives you a radiant look: Bathing with icy cold water can give a healthy shine to your face and tresses. It tightens up the pores and cuticles and acts as a seal on your skin and scalp, so that they don’t get stripped off healthy natural oils. It also helps in fighting hair fall issues by strengthening the grip of the follicles on the scalp.
- Facilitate weight loss: There are two types of fat in our body; white fat & brown fat. While white fat is the bad fat, which gets accumulated in different parts of our body as flab; brown fat is the good fat, which generates heat to keep our body warm in times of exposure to extreme cold surroundings. Cold showers can stimulate brown fat activity and thus help us in losing a few inches.
- Reduce muscle damage: Athletics fans among you must have observed athletes using freezing water (or cryotherapy) to counter the soreness in their muscles and to speed up their recovery after rigorous training sessions. You can also use cold water baths to cure the strained / damaged muscles after any vigorous physical activity like an intense bout of exercise. It also helps in reducing inflammation.
- Improves the lung function: When you step into a cold shower, as an automatic reflex your breathing becomes deep and erratic. This increases your oxygen intake and opens up your lungs giving you a quick boost of energy.
- Increases libido: It may sound strange to you but cold water showers can stimulate sexual drive in men. Indulging in cold water may enhance their testosterone levels to a great extent, resulting in an increased libido. It has also been observed in various researches that contrary to hot water bath (which works as a temporary contraceptive), cold water baths can increase fertility in men by increasing their sperm count.
- Cures depression: Although less talked about, cold water bath may help you to overcome depression. Firstly, a cold shower can send electric impulses from the brain which has an anti depressive effect. Secondly, it stimulates the nervous system by increasing the levels of noradrenaline and beta-endorphin in the blood, both of which work as anti-depressant chemicals within the human body.
- Prevents cancer: Researchers have also established that cold showers are beneficial in reducing the risk and survival rate of certain type of cancers by improving cell damage.
Clearly, hot and cold water baths, albeit contrasting at times, are beneficial for us in many ways. You certainly have a lot on your platter to help you in making an apt choice of temperature of your bathing water. As a note of caution though, try to avoid spending excessive time in bath water, more so if you are going for a bubble bath or have added any bathing oils into the water. It may give exposure to bacteria from the rectum increasing the risk of Urinary Tract Infections, especially in young girls.
Personally, I prefer to start my shower with lukewarm water. It helps me with better cleansing of my skin, and then in the end I use cold water to reduce my open pores and get a radiant look. This is my way of getting optimal benefits from regular bathing routine; you may share your experience in the comments below.
Aafiya is a health and wellness enthusiast. She utilizes her spare time to contribute insightful articles around day to day lifestyle challenges and their remedies, that all can relate to.
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