18 Feb A Hot Bath Is Better For Treating Depression Than Exercise
With the cold, dark days of winter just weeks away, those of us with seasonal or any other kind of depression tend to struggle more than anyone else. But there’s good news for those who have been feeling down in the dumps – researchers discovered that just two hot baths a week is even better at treating depression than a good sweat session is.
Researchers at the University of Freiburg in Germany conducted a small study with 45 people, all struggling with depression. They were split into two groups. The first was told to bathe in 104-degree water each day for up to 30 minutes at a time, while the second group was instructed to do 40 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise twice a week.
After eight weeks, both groups scored lower on a commonly used depression scale, but those who took baths scored significantly lower than the exercise group at an average of six points lower versus an average of three points, respectively. The conclusion: baths were the more effective mood booster.
So why might bath time be better at treating depression than gym time? Researchers believe it has to do with circadian rhythm, which is the 24-hour cycle of our physiological functions and processes..
Those battling depression often have a disrupted or delayed circadian rhythm (which is why insomnia is a common symptom of the condition). By regularly increasing participants’ body temperatures, the researchers believe they were able to improve their circadian rhythms—and in turn alleviate some of their depression symptoms.
More research is needed to truly understand why hot baths help improve depression. But we’re on board with this, especially if it involves not doing anything other than soaking.