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Hot tub benefits

Reduce inflammation and relieve stress with a relaxing soak

by Kate Williams, Ph.D. ConsumerAffairs Research Team
woman relaxing in hot tub

Hot tub therapy

Hot tub therapy uses the physical properties of water to soothe muscles, bones and joints and treat the symptoms of certain health ailments, such as arthritis, diabetes, insomnia and obesity. Beyond offering leisure and relaxation, hot tubs feature controlled water temperature and pressure.

7 therapeutic hot tub benefits

A study in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences outlined the therapeutic benefits of using a hot tub, which range from relieving pain points from the bottoms of your feet to the strained muscles of your neck to healing certain health issues. Some therapeutic benefits of hot tubs include:

  1. Minimizing arthritis pain: The most common symptoms of arthritis are pain, inflammation and stiffness of the joints, ligaments or tendons. The controlled temperature and pressure of hot tubs offer a natural option to minimize those symptoms and relax muscles without the side effects of medication.
  2. Lowering blood sugar levels: The heat in hot tubs helps dilate blood vessels to improve blood flow so more nutrient-rich blood reaches your muscles, effectively reducing your blood sugar level. The increase in blood flow is especially beneficial for people with diabetes, as some studies have shown that regular dips in a hot tub actually reduced blood glucose levels for some patients.
  3. Relieving fibromyalgia pain: Hot tub jets stimulate circulation. As blood flow increases, the muscles begin to loosen, which makes it much less painful to move around.
  4. Reducing stress and anxiety: Spending time relaxing alone or with close friends or loved ones can help with concentration and the release of endorphins, known to be mood elevators, that reduce anxiety.
  5. Improving sleep quality: Hot water decompresses your joints, increases your circulation and lowers your blood pressure and heart rate. You begin to become drowsy as your body temperature gradually drops after a soak, setting the tone for a tranquil pre-sleep state leading to perfect sleep.
  6. Reducing pain and promoting healing: In a hot tub, the water supports approximately 90 percent of your body weight, making you feel weightless and relieving stress from your muscles and joints. Warm water is especially helpful for people with chronic back pain. Back pain is usually caused by strained muscles and ligaments supporting the spine. A hot tub dip counters the force of gravity that’s compressing the joints and ligaments. It promotes the healing of swollen and inflamed muscles that are causing pain.
  7. Benefitting athletes: Soaking in a hot tub before and after you work out helps loosen your muscles and reduce the risk of injury. It also prevents muscle soreness and stiffness, helps treat existing injury and improves your sleep quality, especially after extreme exercise.

Hot tub health risks

Can you use a hot tub when pregnant? To be on the safe side, no, you should not use a hot tub during pregnancy. Hot tub soaking raises your body temperature to a level that can harm your developing baby. Studies have shown that elevated body temperature can increase the risk for birth defects affecting the skull and spine and possibly cause miscarriage.

Are hot tubs sanitary? A hot tub that is not properly cleaned and maintained may be a hotbed for bacterial growth. Regular maintenance and periodically shocking your hot tub can help prevent these issues.

How long should you be in a hot tub? Try to limit your time to 15-30 minutes per soak. Soaking in a hot tub for extended periods or setting the thermostat above the recommended level of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius can cause the body to overheat. This can lead to heat exhaustion manifested by fainting and other health problems, such as heat rash or heat stroke.

Are hot tub chemicals bad for you? Chlorine and bromine help keep your hot tub free from microbes, but the improper and untimely use of these chemicals can be harmful to your health. Chlorine can be applied every day, while bromine can be used between longer intervals. When urine, sweat or other body wastes are mixed with chlorine, an irritant called chloramine is produced. While chemicals kill germs and bacteria, the key to clean hot tub water is showering before and after a soak to get rid of body waste and bacteria that may have attached to your body, as well as cleaning your hot tub regularly.

Should you buy a hot tub?

If you want to invest in your well-being and home life and have enough in your budget, you should buy a hot tub. In addition to providing a wealth of health benefits, hot tubs can also be a fun way to unwind with your friends or family after a long day.

Bottom line: There are lots of health benefits in having a hot tub at home. You could benefit by having a hot tub if you suffer from pain caused by arthritis or fibromyalgia, have low blood sugar, stress or trouble sleeping.

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by Kate Williams, Ph.D. ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As a member of the ConsumerAffairs Research Team, Kate Williams, Ph.D. believes everyone deserves easy access to accurate and comprehensive information on products and businesses before they make a purchase. She spends countless hours researching companies and industries before writing buyers guides to make sure consumers have all the information they need to make smart, informed buying decisions.