Hot tubs, also referred to as spas, provide relaxation and soothe muscles. The term "spa" is associated with treatment by water. The earliest descriptions of western bathing practices come from Greece, where citizens bathed using regimens that form the foundation for modern spa procedures. In Greek mythology, it was believed that the natural springs and tidal pools were blessed by gods and able to cure a variety of diseases. While spas do not cure diseases, they do provide some benefits.
Stress Relief and Sleep Benefits
Hot tubs can relieve stress and improve sleep. The massaging jets and soothing heat help to reduce tension which may make it easier to fall asleep. The weightlessness effect produced by the buoyancy of the water can also be relaxing. Sitting in a hot tub raises body temperature, and the drop in body temperature that occurs after getting out of a hot tub may also induce sleep. Studies suggest that spending 15 minutes in a hot tub 90 minutes before bedtime can lead to an improved night's sleep.
Massaging hot tub jets work to relax muscles and relieve pressure on nerves. In addition, the buoyancy provided by the water reduces body weight by 90 percent, taking pressure off joints. Hydrotherapy in a hot tub can provide symptom relief to some people with arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation notes that muscle relaxation, decreased pain and stiffness and increased ease of performing daily activities and exercises are all potential benefits from heat therapies such as soaking in a hot tub
Heat from hot tubs can cause the blood vessels to open up (called vasodilation), which decrease blood pressure. The heat and massage ease blood flow and improve circulation, in addition to stimulating nerve impulses that boost the immune system and digestion.
According to the American Heart Association, individuals with high blood pressure who have been advised to refrain from other activities that cause vasodilation (such as exercise) should also avoid using hot tubs. You should also not drink alcohol or move back and forth between cold water and hot tubs as this can increase blood pressure.
Improvement of Type 2 Diabetes
Hot tub therapy involving up to 30 minutes a day, six days a week for at least three weeks is known to help individuals with type 2 diabetes lower their blood sugar, lose weight and improve their sleep patterns. Particularly for people who are unable to exercise, sitting in a hot tub may be an effective alternative. Those with diabetes need to exercise caution, however, as they may be more susceptible to get burns on their feet due to nerve damage caused by diabetes. Drops in blood sugar may also not be obvious until getting out of the tub so individuals are advised to leave the hot tub gradually to make sure they do not pass out.
Chronic Pain and Fatigue Reductions
Hot tub therapy may help people with medical conditions that cause pain and fatigue. People with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (both chronic conditions characterized by all-over body pain, aches or fatigue) can get pain relief from soaking in a hot tub or engaging in light stretches while in the water.
When injury occurs at a joint in your body, your body responds by increasing blood flow to the injured area. The swelling begins at the joint and this will cause pain. The warm water in spas enhances blood flow to the muscles and affected joint by dilating the blood vessels in your lower body.
Your body responds to injury by not only increasing blood flow, which results in swelling, but also by tightening the muscles around the injured area. The reason muscles around the injured area tighten is that it serves as protection against further injury, but this response creates painful spasms. Using the spa promotes healing with increased blood flow and the jets provide a massaging pressure to the muscles that are in spasm.
If you have trouble sleeping, sitting in the spa may be an excellent way to unwind and increase the quality of your rest. Warm water massage can stimulate your body to release endorphins and these endorphins help reduce stress. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that soaking in hot water, such as in a spa, before retiring to bed can ease the transition into deeper sleep.
The National Arthritis Foundation recommends the spa for sufferers. The foundation says individuals can benefit from the spa because it provides buoyancy that aids relaxation and exercises your joints. Don't soak for more than 10 to 15 minutes and keep the temperature between 98 and 104 degrees.