Science Finally Explains Why Hot Baths Are Way Better Than Showers

No evidence on the health benefits of Mr. Bubble yet.

woman in bath StaceStock / Shutterstock

I love baths.

I know that some people can take that as a controversial statement because there are many in this world who regard baths as extremely gross. “You just sit there,” they moan. “In your own filth.”

But, speaking as someone who was raised in an extremely old house with a gigantic clawfoot tub and no shower, I can tell you — taking a long, hot bath can be one of the most satisfying experiences in the world.


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And science is (FINALLY) backing me up on that.

Scientists at Loughborough and Leicester Universities in the United Kingdom released data that suggests that simply taking a hot bath can burn calories and significantly reduce your blood sugar levels.

Take that, showers! Can getting sprayed by a sky-hose actually make you healthier? Nope. But a little time in the tub with Rubber Duckie might.

All kidding aside, the findings could actually make a big difference to people suffering from type-2 diabetes.

Spending time in a hot tub was shown to reduce peak blood sugar levels by 10 percent more than spending an hour riding your bike (amazing). And a hot soak was shown to burn around 126 calories per hour.


Dr. Steve Faulkner, from the National Institute for Health Research Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit, was quoted as saying, “We discovered the participants who bathed had, on average, 10 percent lower peak glucose levels in comparison to the exercise, which was completely unexpected.”

He further commented that “The amount our blood sugar rises after a meal is one of the risk markers for things like developing type 2 diabetes, so keeping it down can be good for our health.”

Now, this doesn’t mean that a regiment of hot bathing could ever replace the overall impact of healthy exercise, but it does shed interesting light on the health benefits of regularly taking a warm, relaxing bath.

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The data suggests that a hot bath triggers something in our bodies called a “heat shock response.” While that sounds foreboding, it’s the same thing that happens when you work out and your muscles start to get warm.

To quote a profile in The Huffington Post, “Heat shock proteins share pathways associated with the body’s reaction to exercise. They have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity (something that is lost in diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome), reduce inflammation and decrease both body fat and weight.”

And the new research argues that you can trigger that response, in some way, with a hot bath, which is remarkable.

So, showers, you’ve been put on notice.


The bath vs. shower debate has raged for ages — admittedly, showers have had the advantage for a while now — but this new data clearly reinvigorates the case for why taking baths is kind of awesome.

I’ll be over here, heating up my tub and picking out my favorite bath bomb, while showers try to figure out how they can cure male-pattern baldness or planters’ warts. (Good luck!)

RELATED: Why Self-Care Is So Much More Than Nap Time & Bubble Baths


Tom Burns is a writer who has been featured on Babble, Brightly,, Time Magazine, Reading Rainbow, The Huffington Post, xoJane, and various other sites. Follow him on Twitter.