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Taking a hot bath may be just as good for you as working out


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Photo: Stocksy/Trinette Read

At the end of a long workday, there are two vastly different ways to unwind: doing an intense workout or sinking into a hot bath. If the only reason you’re signing up for that spin class is to do something good for your body, you might want to let yourself off the hook and head home.

A hot bath may be just as beneficial as a workout, according to a new study performed at the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine at the University of Loughborough in England. (Especially if loud music isn’t your friend.)

Researchers found that participants who cycled at a moderate speed for an hour burned the same amount of calories as those who chilled out in a 104-degree bath.

Researchers found that participants who cycled at a moderate speed for an hour burned the same amount of calories as those who chilled out in a 104-degree bath. Plus, both groups had lowered blood sugar levels (a sign of a bump in metabolism).

Wondering how exactly the body burns calories just sitting in the tub? Researchers found that extreme heat (and cold) increase heart rates and put the circulatory system to work.

Functional medicine expert (and Wellness Council member) Frank Lipman, MD, says he has seen similar health benefits from sitting in a sauna. “Although it should not be considered a replacement to exercise, an infrared sauna can provide some of the benefits, as it increases circulation and sweating in the body, and can serve as a wonderful way to relieve stress,” he says.

Okay, so while quitting the gym isn’t recommended, frequenting a sauna or regularly taking hot baths seems to have long-term health benefits, especially when it comes to your heart. So, there’s another reason (as if you needed one) to enjoy a super-relaxing soak tonight. (And hey, why not live your best staying-in life and get some mask time in while you’re at it?)

Another way to make tub time better? Turn your bathroom into a dreamy, spa-like sanctuary. Or, plan an entire day of happiness for yourself.