February 2, 2018 – Everyone and their cousin knows that hot tubs have the power to make our muscles feel great and melt our stress away. We’ve all hopefully experienced the wonderful joy of a relaxing soak and the noticeable immediate effects it has on our body and minds. The sound and movement of the hot water soothe and brings about a slow smile of euphoria as our aches disappear, even if just for the moment. And If you’ve never experienced this wonder, you need to come in soon for a test soak!
You see, hot tubs provide a variety of health benefits, from the alleviation of mental distress such as anxiety and the obvious physical benefits such as the loosening of stiff joints. What if I were to tell there were a plethora of physical benefits not immediately noticeable but beneficial behind the scenes of our biology? Would you believe me?
The Heart Muscle
One such area that greatly benefits from hydrotherapy is the heart. We obviously cannot see our hearts, but every choice in our lives affects its health, so it is often the focal point of our wellness journey. Society obsesses over heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart attacks, and… heartburn (absolute misnomer!) But that conversation does not often mention hot tubs and cardiovascular health in the same sentence, except murmurings of avoidance, due to extreme caution, premature conclusions, and liability concerns. I will be clearing up some of the top Hot Tub myths soon in this series, but today I want to talk about the benefits of Hotspring hydrotherapy and your heart.
What Hot Tubs do to your cardiovascular system
The standard human temperature is 98.6 ˚F, while hot tubs typically range anywhere from 100-104 ˚F. Due to the relatively higher heat difference, the smooth muscles surrounding the blood vessels relax. This, in turn, causes blood vessels to widen, a process known as vasodilation. This dilation brings about two main effects.
A Cardio Workout
Immersing in warm water raises your body temperature, causing your blood vessels to dilate and increases circulation.
Increased blood flow means that there is more oxygen-rich blood flowing to all muscles, one of which is the heart Although the heart distributes blood throughout the body, as a muscle itself, blood vessels called coronary arteries bring blood to the heart…from the heart. The cardiac volume increases by nearly one-third with immersion to the neck, providing you with the same benefits as a cardio workout.
A Blood Pressure Drop
Blood vessels vasolidate and blood flow increases due to lowering of blood vessel wall resistance. The wider radius of blood vessels makes it easier for your heart to pump blood. Additionally, the reduction of gravity due to well…floating in water… reduces the force your heart needs to work against. This action reduces blood pressure, in both patients with normal and high blood pressure.
For persons with hypotension, it is recommended to limit your time in hot water or to lower the temperature.
Hot tubs offer the unique position of raising heart rate while lowering blood pressure, something that does not occur in traditional exercise (whereas both factors go up). 20 minutes of hydrotherapy cannot be compared to intense cardio training but is comparable to a casual walk of the same duration.
In addition to the circulatory increase to all muscles including the heart, hydrotherapy balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. This equilibrium mimics the stress relaxing practice of meditation, amazing for a healthy heart on a different level.
The increased cardiac volume simulates light exercise while lowering blood pressure. While the awesome benefit of lowered blood pressure slowly returns to its previous state within 10 minutes of exiting the water, the balancing effect on the autonomic nervous system is retained for hours after, making daily soaking an excellent routine for your overall wellness, especially cardiac health. Keep these healthy heart benefits in mind during 2018’s American Heart Month.
Help your heart…just for the health of it. We wholeheartedly agree!
Today I’ve examined the underknown health benefits for your heart. Next week tune into 5 Hot Tub and Sauna Heart Myths that will touch upon this subject more.