IF YOUR idea of heaven is relaxing in a hot bath then you’ll be pleased to know you are also doing your heart good, according to researchers.
Japanese scientists have found five hot baths a week is good for cardiac health by reducing the chance of getting blocked arteries.
The researchers from Ehime University in Matsuyama asked 873 people aged between 60 and 76 to fill in a questionnaire about their hot water bathing practices.
Hot water was defined as a temperature of more than 41C and a hot bath lasted 12.4 minutes, on average.
The researchers found those who had hot baths five times a week were less likely to have a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries.
They used a variety of measures, including branchial-ankle pulse wave velocity, a measure of atherosclerosis, and plasma levels of B-type natriuretic peptide, which is a measure of cardiac loading.
The researchers believe the benefits of hot baths are due to water pressure causing short-term cardiovascular responses as blood shifts from the legs and abdomen to the right atrium of the heart, while heat exposure activates the heat shock protein, which stabilises many important proteins in regulating the cardiovascular system.
According to the research report, the elevation of core body temperature and increase in blood flow show similar physiological effects to those seen in exercise.
Previous research has also shown that sauna bathing is associated with reduced cardiovascular risk.