Sweat it out - in a bath!
You might think that to lose weight you need to do strenuous exercise - pedalling furiously on an exercise bike, for example, or doing lengths in your local pool. Well, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that lying in a steaming bath can bring the same benefits as exercise, without the need to sweat profusely in the gym!
These were the findings of an experiment comparing the relative benefits of exercise and hot baths that was carried out by Dr Steve Faulkner of Loughborough University. The volunteers first lay in a hot bath and then ate a light meal, while their blood sugar level was monitored and the number of calories they burnt was measured. The experiment was then repeated, but instead of having a bath, the participants did an hour's vigorous exercise on a bike. The results from both activities were compared with unexpected results.
What we found, said Dr Faulkner, "was an 80% increase in energy expenditure, just as a result of sitting in the bath for the course of an hour". You burn 140 calories - not as many perhaps as if you had worked out on an exercise bike, but the same number as if you had been on a brisk walk. The real surprise, however, came in the blood sugar level results. The peak glucose output, the amount of blood sugar in the blood after a meal, was on average10% lower after the bath compared to that after exercise.
Dr Faulkner's explanation for this phenomenon is that when you are in a hot bath, proteins, known as 'heat shock proteins' are released, which help divert the sugar from the bloodstream to the muscles. It's important to keep blood sugar levels down to avoid damage to the arteries and nerves.
Don't think, though, that you can hang up your trainers just yet! You should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. But, if you are one of those people who need to control their blood sugar levels - if you have type-2 diabetes for example or find it hard to exercise - why wait? Grab a towel and start running the hot tap!
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