It is a well documented fact that bathing has been an integral part of the human condition since the outset. One theory suggest that man is indeed an "aquatic ape". Whether or not this is true, man has always had an interest in taking ablutions. From the Mesopotamians, to the Greeks and the Romans, bathing has always held import both on a personal and often a public level. Why is this the case
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First, there is an issue of practicality - keeping the body clean of dirt and bacteria. Then, there is the psychological aspect - feelings of well being and euphoria. This is all good and well in theory but why is bathing actually good for you, on a scientific level? Does the mind or body actually benefit or is it more akin to a placebo effect? There is good quality scientific data available which suggests we can expect to benefit from bathing in the following ways:
Psychological stress relief - Largely psychological benefits include a feeling of well being and relaxation. Taking a bath is a great time to contemplate and practice some mindfulness (a modern term for meditation). Concentrating on nothing or enjoying the moment is a great way to calm ones' self. Practicing basic techniques can help lower the heart rate and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This does not necessarily need to take place in a shower or bath but these occasions often symbolize moments of the day when an individual has time to focus on themselves. Take the opportunity when possible.
Physical stress relief - Taking a hot bath has many positive effects on the body. The buoyancy and heat can offer temporary relief from arthritic symptoms whilst toxins are removed more quickly due to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure caused by the elevated temperatures.
Improved sleep - A bath before bed time can help relax the mind and body leading to a deeper, more restful sleep. It can also help those that find it difficult to get to sleep initially.
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Better cardiac health - A warm or hot bath will lead to an increase in heart rate, giving your heart a relatively low stress, healthy work out. Please take advise if you are prone to heart irregularities.
Balancing the body - Bathing in water can effect the balance of hormones in the body: hot water can help raise levels of serotonin which can effect mental well being and induce feelings of euphoria and happiness. In juxtaposition, cold water bathing can help balance cortisol levels in the body leading to a more stable mental state.
Cleansing - Free yourself of bacteria, dirt, airborne pollutants and grease. Removing these contaminates means that your immune system does not have to work quite as hard. Furthermore, a build up of these contaminates can lead to several serious skin conditions such as; psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis. Keeping clean is also another defense against general infections, viruses and bacteria.
Improved respiration - The heat and steam experienced when bathing helps improve circulation in the nasal passage and lungs which in turn helps to "open" the mucus membranes meaning that mucus is evacuated more effectively and at a higher rate. Additionally, an elevated heart rate generally improves oxygen uptake so leads to more oxygenated blood (which is good!).
Temporary relief from arthritic conditions - The heat and weightlessness can bring temporary relief from pain and inflammation caused by arthritis.
An aid for diabetes sufferers and those trying to lose weight - Particularly with cold water bathing, the body burns many calories trying to stay warm so if persistent, cold water bathing can be an aid to weight loss.
Please do take medical advice if contemplating bathing in extremely hot or cold water, particularly if you have any cardiac issues.
We at Bushgear do sell a range of wood fired hot tubs which are ideal for both cold and hot water bathing. Please do have a look if this is something of interest to you.
Photos courtesy of https://www.romanbaths.co.uk and Pinterest