Soaking in a hot tub is one of life’s little pleasures.
A home spa is a perfect place to unwind after a long day, let the stress of the week wash away, or entertain guests.
But did you know spas and hydrotherapy are also associated with a whole host of health benefits? See our complete list of the 12 biggest hot tub health benefits below.
What are the greatest hot tub health benefits?
Make hot tub hydrotherapy a regular part of your lifestyle and these are the health benefits you can expect to enjoy:
1. Relief from aches and pains
In a 2021 article concerning chronic pain, NICE (The National Institute for Health & Care Excellence) reported that 34% of Brits are currently suffering from chronic pain, with the most commonly experienced types of pain being back pain (53%), headaches (48%), and joint pain (46%).
Luckily, hot tubs and hydro-massaging can help relieve the aches and pains of everyday life by utilising hot water to apply chemical, mechanical and thermal massages to the body.
A 2021 review article on the ‘therapeutic aspects of hydrotherapy‘ explains how hydro-massaging improves the circulation of blood and blood flow, in turn relieving pain and tension within the soft tissue and muscles while simultaneously relaxing the muscle.
The buoyancy of warm water also reduces your body weight by around 90 per cent, relieving the pressure on your joints and sore muscles – especially the spine, which bears the brunt of our modern lifestyles.
As a result, hydrotherapy and hydro-massaging within hot tubs are often used to treat insomnia, multiple sclerosis and tendinitis, and relieve stress.
“Sitting causes up to twice as much pressure on discs on the spine as standing [and] can cause unnecessary strain on the back and neck” says Tim Hutchful, a British Chiropractic Association (BCA) chiropractor.
James Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, put it more bluntly in an interview with the LA Times: “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV, and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.”
However, peer-reviewed studies show that hydrotherapy treatment reduces the symptoms of people living with chronic back pain, meaning making a soak in a hot tub a part of your daily routine can help you manage a bad back.
2. Stress relief
The warm water. The soothing jets. The white noise.
Your hot tub can become your own sanctuary away from the turmoil of daily life, either as a solo soak or as a way to squeeze some quality time with family and friends into your hectic schedule.
In a world where it can feel impossible to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life, hot water therapy within your hot tub can help you relax, unwind, and destress.
Studies have even shown that the use of hydrotherapy can provide a psychological and emotional boost, making it a powerful way to improve your well-being.
Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, a soak in a hot tub is a proven way to relieve your stress.
31 per cent of UK adults say they have insomnia and 48 per cent agree they don’t get the right amount of sleep or adequate sleep quality, according to research by Aviva.
And while a bad night’s sleep can ruin the next day, a chronic lack of sleep caused by sleep disorders like insomnia can have a serious impact on your stress levels, mental health, and even your immune system.
Luckily, a daily dip in a hot tub can help you fall asleep soundly every night and avoid all these health issues. A study of insomniacs revealed that soaking in hot water before bedtime leads to deeper, more restful, and more continuous sleep. So if you’re in need of a good night’s sleep, don’t forget to add a soak in your hot tub to your bedtime routine!
4. Encourage weight loss
Did you know soaking in a hot tub for an hour burns about the same number of calories as a 30-minute walk, according to a 2016 study?
A study published by the New England Journal of Medicine also found that regular hot tub therapy simulates the beneficial effects of exercise. In one clinical study, patients who used hot tubs lost an average of 3.5 pounds in weight without any new diet or physical exercise programs as compared to the control group!
While a soak in your spa shouldn’t replace regular exercise, burning a few extra calories while you sit back and unwind is certainly a nice benefit of using a hot tub – especially if you find it hard to exercise.
5. Quality time with friends and family
Dozens of studies have shown that people with strong social ties are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer, according to Harvard Medical School.
Enjoying a soak in the hot tub with your nearest and dearest not only gives you all the benefits associated with spas themselves, but also those that come from socialising.
And it’s one of the few places where you’ll get to enjoy people’s company away from the distractions of devices, making it a great place to catch up with friends and family.
6. Muscle relaxation and recovery
Just 20 minutes immersed in hot water at around 37oC dilates your blood vessels and improves circulation, which helps move inflammatory substances away from the joints, muscles and tendons.
Combining this heat with pulsating hot tub jets is the perfect recipe to relax your tight muscles, stimulating the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkiller.
This all contributes to the fact hot tub hydrotherapy exercise boosts recovery rates after exercise and reduces fatigue, as studies have shown.
Today’s advanced hot tubs are even fitted with powerful massage jets that can replicate the petrissage (kneading, knuckling and wringing), effleurage (gentle, flowing strokes), and tapotement (rhythmic tapping using the edges of the hands) strokes a professional masseuse would use to relieve your muscle tension. View our dedicated hot tub jet section to see how hot tub jets work.
This makes hot tub therapy and hydrotherapy the perfect way to recover after a workout and alleviate the soreness of everyday aches and pains.
A 2008 study discovered that hot tubs’ effect on insulin sensitivity and blood pressure is “comparable to those of exercise training”.
And a follow-up study revealed that regular hot tub use is “a promising and inexpensive tool for the treatment of obesity and diabetes”.
While a soak in the hot tub certainly shouldn’t be used as a replacement for diet, exercise, or medication when it comes to managing type-2 diabetes or heart disease, it’s certainly a great tool for regulating your heart rate and blood sugar levels.
8. Minimise the pain of arthritis
Good news for anyone who suffers from arthritis: relaxing in a hot tub is proven to provide temporary relief from arthritic joint pain.
A daily dip in a hot tub can keep your heart healthy. The heat raises your heart rate, which helps both regulate and lower blood pressure and maintain healthy blood flow. By enhancing blood circulation and increasing blood flow, the body reaches higher concentrations of oxygen through the body.
This improved oxygenation helps to reduce fatigue and clear toxins from the body, while also providing essential nutrients to all organs, in turn keeping your arteries flexible and increasing the overall strength of your heart muscle.
In fact, a 2016 study revealed that “lifelong sauna use reduces cardiovascular‐related and all‐cause mortality” and concluded that using a hot tub regularly “could be a viable treatment for improving cardiovascular health”.
Using a home spa for as little as ten minutes a day can lower your blood pressure according to research, meaning that every time you hop in a hot tub you’re getting a cardiovascular boost.
10. Relief from the symptoms of Fibromyalgia
As with arthritis, a study of the effects of hydrotherapy on fibromyalgia patients showed that hydrotherapy within hot tubs helped improve subjects’ physical functionality, sleep quality, and ability to do their jobs, while also reducing pain intensity, fatigue, stiffness, anxiety, and depression.
11. Relief from headaches
Suffer from regular headaches?
Soaking in a hot tub dilates your blood vessels, encouraging blood flow and helping to reduce the build-up of pressure in your head that’s causing the pain.
Taking the time to slow down, close your eyes, and relax – as well as get away from screens – will also help alleviate any headaches you have.
12. Clearer skin
Opt for a hot tub with MicroSilk® technology and relaxing in your spa will even stimulate collagen production, helping reduce wrinkles and leave you looking fresh.
Using a hot tub and soaking in warm water has a whole host of proven benefits for your mind and body. But can you overdo it?
Luckily, the best way to unlock the health benefits associated with hydrotherapy is to soak in your hot tub every day – or at least every few days.
This is not only a great way to unwind at the end of the day and maybe catch up with your partner, but also to make sure you’re reaping one of the main hot tub benefits.
How long should you sit in a hot tub?
Generally speaking, it’s recommended you spend 20-30 minutes in your hot tub at one time, but you can extend your soak to 45 minutes if you lower the water temperature.
And you can always hop back in after a short break – just be sure to rehydrate.
Can a hot tub help me lose weight?
Because the heat of the hot water raises your heart rate, using your hot tub burns quite a few calories and therefore definitely helps you lose weight.
However, there’s, unfortunately, no such thing as “the hot tub diet”, and soaking in your home spa should be used as a complement to diet and exercise rather than a replacement for it if you’re looking to lose weight.
Soaking in a hot tub for just twenty minutes a day can unlock a whole host of health benefits, from better sleep to relief from the symptoms of conditions like arthritis.
I am the Content Writer and Marketing Officer at WhatSpa? Magazine. I have worked at WhatSpa? for over 8 years, and I recently graduated with Distinction from Northumbria University with a Master's degree in Occupational and Organizational Psychology.
My role at WhatSpa? is to ensure that all hot tub lovers can easily access the highest quality and most up-to-date content, news and information from within the UK wet leisure industry.