Should We Pour Cold Water On Hot Baths?

29/09/2016 17:47

When it comes to mixed messages, nobody does them quite like those involved in the health and fitness industry.

For example, your head could be left spinning as rival schools of thought urge you to either cut-out carbs altogether or absolutely gorge on them.

As for that glass of wine at the end of a stressful day, you'll go through a bottle of the stuff just digesting a fraction of what's been written about alcohol consumption on the internet.

And it's exactly the same when it comes to daily things we all take for granted - such as a simple task like taking a nice, hot bath.

There have been a number of new studies about the negatives and benefits of immersing your body in warm water in recent weeks.

On the plus side, scientists from Loughborough found that a hot bath could potentially help control type 2 diabetes by reducing peak blood sugar levels by 10 per cent and increasing energy expenditure levels by 80 per cent.

It's all thanks to special proteins that are released in response to heat and which actually protect your arteries and nerves from lasting damage.

But, as ever, that's only half the story.

Because another, potentially even more eye-catching, study has found a flip side, with a different group of researchers suggesting that hot baths could actually suppress muscle gains.

That's important if you're hitting the gym in a bid to strengthen your body, particualy if you're trianing for an upcoming event.

And the message is clear - all the blood, sweat and tears you're putting in to getting in shape could be utterly undermined by what you're doing post-workout.

Experts from the University of Queensland, Australia, showed that 'hot water immersion' at around 45 degrees celsius inhibited muscle growth.

Of course, some people swear by cold water baths in order to help repair aching muscles.

That too, says lead researcher Hamish McGorm, could be as bad as having a sweltering soak - as they both lead to 'poor muscle regeneration'.

The egg-heads in Australia are now going to analyse their test subjects on a molecular level with the results to be published early next year - watch this space.

But in the meantime, there are other reasons to pull the plug on your nightly hot bath - or hot-tub session, if you're one of the thousands of Brits who've installed one at the bottom of the garden.

In 2011 Japanese researchers from Kyoto Prefectural University analysed data from 11,000 heart attack patients over the course of two years.

They concluded that taking a hot bath on a cold day may actually increase your risk of having a heart attack.

That's because heat causes the blood vessels in the skin to dilate - a process known as vasodilation - while blood pressure drops. The heart may then beat harder and faster in order to compensate, placing strain on your ticker.

And as we head into the colder months, here's something else to ponder: heart attacks were 10 times more likely to occur when bathing in winter compared to summer.

Meanwhile other experts warn that bathing in water that's too hot for too long can lead to nausea and vomiting, particularly in pregnant women or with those who've just eaten, as blood flows away from the digestive tract to the skin as the body attempts to cool down.

So, perhaps there's a reason why there are only showers available in your gym changing room....?