Updated 02 October 2020

Love a hot bath? It could lower your risk of type 2 diabetes

Research indicates that heat has beneficial effects on health risk factors like blood sugar and BMI.

  • Research indicates heat therapy can help reduce risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes
  • The study involved Japanese diabetics and their hot tub bathing habits
  • Frequent bathing showed a reduction of weight, BMI, blood pressure and blood sugar

Getting into a steamy hot bath isn't just good for the mind – new research indicates it can help you to better manage your type 2 diabetes.

Presented at this year's Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) by Japanese researchers, the study analysed the metabolic effect of hot tub bathing on Japanese type 2 diabetics.

The health benefits of heat therapy like saunas and hot tubs are well-documented, especially for diabetics, but in this study, they focused on how heat therapy could impact high-risk factors for type 2 diabetes like hypertension and obesity.

READ | Loneliness, the surprising factor that can influence the onset of type 2 diabetes 

Japanese bathing habits

Almost 1 230 diabetes patients were surveyed on their bathing habits in a country where hot tub bathing has cultural significance. They were divided into three groups depending on the frequency of baths taken per week. Their average age was 67 and there were more men than women.

On average, patients bathed 4.2 times a week for an average of 16 minutes.

The more they bathed, the more their body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, diastolic blood pressure and specifically glycated haemoglobin were reduced.

Blood sugar levels and frequent testing are important for good diabetes management and can help prevent other complications from diabetes like heart disease.

READ MORE | Can Covid-19 cause diabetes?

Similar to exercise

The authors highlighted that heat therapy might improve insulin sensitivity and increase the body's consumption of energy, very much like exercising. Increasing bathing might, therefore, be a good alternative for older patients who are unable to exercise effectively.

It could perhaps even lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes to start with.

However, bathing more might also be linked to healthier lifestyle choices and more exercise, making the link potentially coincidental.

READ | The strength of your handshake could predict your chances of type 2 diabetes

Image credit: Getty Images


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Diabetes expert

Dr. May currently works as a fulltime endocrinologist and has been in private practice since 2004. He has a variety of interests, predominantly obesity and diabetes, but also sees patients with osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, men's health disorders, pituitary and adrenal disorders, polycystic ovaries, and disorders of growth. He is a leading member of several obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

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