If your go-to way to unwind after a long day is taking a soothing bath, there's a good chance you're doing more than just helping your nerves—new research says that logging time in the bathtub is also good for your heart. According to a recent study published in the journal Heart, people who take a hot bath each day have a 28 percent lower risk of heart disease and a 26 percent lower risk of having a stroke, CNN reports. "We found that frequent tub bathing was significantly associated with a lower risk of hypertension, suggesting that a beneficial effect of tub bathing on risk of [cardiovascular disease] may be in part due to a reduced risk of developing hypertension," the researchers said.
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To gather the data for the study, the researchers tracked the cardiovascular health and bathing habits of over 61,000 participants from Japan for 20 years. The experts followed the test subjects, all between the ages of 40 to 59, from 1990 to 2009 while also examining their lifestyle behavior like weight, exercise patterns, employment, education, sleep lengths, and stress levels.
After the 20-year period ended in 2009, researchers discovered over 2,000 participants had cardiovascular disease. But when diving into the bathing habits over that time, they found that participants who soaked often were at a lower risk of developing heart-related issues. As for what kind of baths were most beneficial, the researchers found that the hotter the bath, the better. About 26 percent of participants had a lower risk of heart disease with warm water and 35 percent had a lower risk when bathing in hot water.
According to another researcher, soaking in the bathtub also helps the body's blood flow. "It seems like tub bathing is similar to exercise in that it increases the heart's work, [but] it does so by relaxing the blood vessels and getting blood pumping to other parts of the body," Dr. Eric Brandt, a cardiologist and lipidologist at the Yale School of Medicine's Yale New Haven Hospital, said. "So it creates this extra temporary work for the heart, but not one that's a negative consequence."