A new study has found that a hot bath twice a week can seriously improve your mood. And the results stick around for a while too.
In fact, it’s thought that could help with mild to moderate depression even more than exercise (a well-known mental health booster) does.
The research was carried out by the University of Freiburg, Germany and focused out 45 people who all had moderate to severe depression, as measured on the Hamilton Depression (HAM-D) scale. While some were giving exercise sessions to do in a week, others were asked to have a half-hour bath and then wrap themselves in blankets with a hot water bottle for another 20 minutes. The bathers/relaxers had twice the drop in their places on the scale than the exercisers did. So it seems that the routine could reduce moderate depression to mild for some people.
Why does a warm bath help? The research boffins think it could be down to body temperature. A soak in a bath helps to rest the body’s natural temperature rhythms over the course of a day. It’s all part of the body circadian rhythms or internal clock that causes physical and chemical changes in our internal systems throughout 24 hours. Body temperature can get a little out of sync in people who have depression so it’s thought that the warmth of the bath - and afterwards - gets the body back on track.
Even for those who don't have depression, a bath can be a big hep. If you're a bathing fan, you probably already know a bath has a calming effect after a tough day. And if you're not yet a bubbles-in-the-tub person, it's the perfect excuse to try it as an evening destresser. (And, yeah, we’re not going to lie, we’d probably take a hot bath over a gym class any day!).