Whilst many of us enjoy nothing better than a nice hot shower, have you ever stopped to consider the health benefits too?
For centuries, water therapy has been used to treat or improve various ailments. Known as hydrotherapy, this technique involves using different temperatures of water to achieve desired results. Over time, studies have shown unique benefits associated with both hot and cold hydrotherapy in the form of showers.
We’ve already investigated the health benefits of cold showers, so it’s time to crank up the heat and find out what benefits a hot shower can bring. Read on to find out more…
Benefits of a hot shower
Hot showers, or showers with a water temperature above 20 degrees Centigrade/70 degrees Fahrenheit, are what most of us are used to. We're all familiar with the invigorating feeling of a hot shower to help shake us from our slumber in the morning, but are there any actual health benefits?
As it turns out, there are many. Let's take a look below...
Improved cardiovascular health
Hot showers, or hot water hydrotherapy in general, were cited in one review to improve the blood flow in individuals who suffer from chronic heart failure. This is attributed to the natural widening of the blood vessels when they are exposed to high temperatures.
In addition, a study carried out in 2011 explored the relationship between hot water and arterial stiffness, which occurs when the arteries become less flexible. Arterial stiffness is a major symptom of atherosclerosis, a cardiovascular condition leading to high blood pressure.
In the same study, it was found that individuals who submerged their lower legs and feet in warm water for up to 30 minutes were also able to reduce arterial stiffness. Participants who did not take part in hydrotherapy did not see the same results.
Improved joint and muscle health
Building upon the same logic mentioned above, enhanced blood flow is a common benefit associated with hot showers. This improved blood flow can help soothe tired muscles and stiff joints. In 2017, another study examined the effect of hot water on knee osteoarthritis. The participants were divided into 3 groups: one a control group receiving typical osteoarthritis treatment, one receiving the treatment in addition to cold water therapy, and one receiving the treatment in addition to hot water therapy.
At the end of this 3 week study, both water treatment groups reported a slight improvement in their knee function compared to the control group.
Improved brain health
Another study, conducted in 2018, sought to examine the possible connection between hot water therapy and brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF for short. A protein in the spinal cord and brain, BDNF has important functions that promote memory and learning, maintain nerve cells and promote nerve cells' survival.
Although a small study only involved 8 people, the results favoured hot water therapy. This was discovered after one group took a 20 minute bath in hot water, while the second group took a 20 minute bath in lukewarm water. The group who took the hot bath had significantly higher levels of BDNF.
Most of us have experienced a good night's sleep after taking a hot shower and there is scientific reasoning behind that. Medical institutions like the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute have even gone so far as to recommend taking a hot shower before bed as a way to get a better night's sleep. The logic behind this recommendation is to do with the raising then slowly reducing your body temperature, leaving you feeling drowsy.
Relieve respiratory or cold symptoms
Taking a hot shower has long been a natural remedy when it comes to easing coughing and cold symptoms. This is due to both the heat of the water and the steam created by it, which help to clear nasal passages, loosen phlegm and open your airways. A steam shower cabin can help enhance the experience further.
Help eliminate blemishes
Hot showers can even help if you're suffering from a breakout of spots or a stubborn blemish. The reason for this also rests in the steam created by the hot temperature of the water, which opens the pores of the skin. This allows for the pores to be cleaned out better, clearing both trapped oil and dirt that cause blemishes.
What are the benefits of cold and hot showers?
Before you turn the heat up on your daily shower, it’s definitely worth considering the benefits of cold showers too. Depending on your own personal health and circumstances, a cold shower may be just as beneficial, if not more so.
However, please keep in mind that hot and cold showers aren’t meant to be a cure-all for any disease or ailment. Much of the research explaining the effects of hot or cold showers involves immersion therapy, which may or may not translate to showers depending on the method.
Either way, giving a cold or hot shower a try is worth it. It's completely safe as long as you don't reach any extreme temperature at either end of the spectrum. The best course of action is to research what result you want from your water therapy and determine what specific temperature has worked for others. If you exercise or play sport regularly, it might even be worth considering the benefits of an ice bath too!
Up your shower game
Now you know the facts, why not add power to your shower with a new system from Victoria Plum? We’ve a wide range of models to suit all bathrooms and budgets, from simple riser kits to sophisticated digital showers. Click on the image below to begin browsing.