Japanese Hot Water Therapy (Why To Love A Hot Tub)

After a long day, we all feel better soaking in a hot bath. In fact, humans have been enjoying the therapeutic effects of hot water bathing for centuries. But beyond relaxation, it also has serious health benefits.

The practice of “hot water bathing” has been part of human behavior since records began. Evidence suggests that the practice of hot baths can be traced back over 4,000 years ago to the Egyptians. The great philosophers of Greece — Plato and Hippocrates — were fans of bathing in hot pools, well aware of its health benefits.

One culture which seems to have upheld this practice is the Japanese. In Japan, water is held in reverence for its healing properties; to this day, Japanese people engage in a practice called “sento” which involves bathing in “onsens” (public hot springs). It’s seen as a way of cleansing both the body and the mind.

Ritual bathing culture in Japan is not just about cleaning the body of physical “dirt”; it’s also about cleansing the mind, body, and soul of “spiritual grime.” The practice of bathing in the hot springs is believed to literally wash away pain and negativity from your body, leaving you physically and spiritually “cleansed.”

I’ve always been a fan of relaxing in any body of hot water I can find. My pre-pandemic gym membership existed purely to allow me to access the large Jacuzzi in the spa section. I rarely used the gym, but felt that my monthly membership was worth it just for access to the soothing tranquillity of the Jacuzzi.

A 2012 study on females with Fibromyalgia found that spending time in hot water eased muscle pain and increased sleep quality. Another study looked at the effects of hot water bathing before bed on people who suffered from insomnia; the results showed a significant increase in deep, restful sleep. Furthermore, soaking in an hour-long, hot bath was also found to have the same benefits on the body as 30 mins of exercise. In fact, the health benefits go on; it appears that hot water bathing is also good for improving insulin sensitivity, reducing blood pressure, improving breathing and cardiovascular function.

For me, the scientific evidence just confirms the personal benefits I’d experienced in my “pre-pandemic” spa visits. So imagine my disappointment when all gyms, pools, and spas were closed due to COVID-19. As the months went on, I really started to miss that restorative, self-care ritual.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and looked into the costs of purchasing my own hot tub. Especially as now I was no longer paying a monthly gym membership.

I discovered some really good quality inflatable tubs that self-heated, were a fifth of the price of static hot tubs, AND had air jets. I WAS SOLD!

I was able to get my hot tub at a great price  — around $450, including delivery. It arrived at the start of summer 2021 and is the single best purchase I’ve ever made.

I enjoy my lovely Jacuzzi spa time again, this time in my own garden. In warm weather, I enjoy days soaking up the sun with close friends and family. It adds another dimension to the garden which means that I spend a lot more time enjoying nature.

And I definitely started noticing some of the health benefits listed above. I just love the calmness of relaxing in a hot spa, even at night while looking at the stars.

The best thing about hot water bathing is that it’s a simple practice that we can incorporate into our daily lives, with little effort. So maybe next time you’re going to have a shower, have a hot bath instead!

-Catherine Smith

Photo by Michael Walk on Unsplash


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