There is nothing more comforting than a warm bath at the end of a cold winter day that can also improve blood circulation and help discharge bodily waste through sweat.
Kim Koh-woon at the Kyunghee University Hospital at Gangdong said, "There are different effects depending on temperatures. A bath of around 38 degrees Celsius activates the parasympathetic nerve system and has a calming effect. A bath at a higher temperature around 42 degrees will activate the sympathetic nerve system and give more energy to our body."
The moderate pressure of water on the body has a similar effect as a massage, reducing swelling. But submerging the whole body may put unnecessary pressure on heart and lungs, so a lower-body bath is more beneficial. Being in water also makes the body feel a fraction lighter and reduces fatigue.
It is a good idea to acclimatize the body to the warm water slowly in the order of ankles, knees, waist, arms, shoulders, and chest. That reduces any shock to blood pressure.
Do not spend too long in bath to the point of sweating a lot and feeling nauseous. Just a bit of sweat on forehead or nose is enough. Drinking a cup of warm water with a dollop of honey after a bath can prevent a sudden change in body temperature in the cold air and maintain electrolyte balance.
Some people ought to avoid hot baths. Many people take a bath to fight cold symptoms, but that is best avoided. When the body gets exposed to cold air after a warm bath, it uses up energy to maintain its temperature, and this weakens immunocytes and can worsen cold symptoms. Pregnant women too should be wary.
In the early stages of a pregnancy, the fetus' nervous system is still developing, and if the temperature of the amniotic fluid is too high, it could obstruct the process.
You should also avoid hot baths if you have hypertension, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, or heart disease because it can cause blood pressure to go up or cause dizziness. Instead, a short bath in moderate temperature for five minutes or less is recommended.
If you suffer from chronic diseases, consult with your doctor. It is important to keep in mind that a bath right after drinking alcohol, having a meal or working out is not recommended as it can cause a rise in blood pressure, indigestion, or pressure on the heart.