4

votes

Is there a compelling reason to skip hot baths / hot showers / hot tubs?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 25, 2011 at 5:10 PM

I know that some paleo folks - the best known probably being Richard Nikoley - enjoy a cold shower or cold bath as part of their routine, and some folks will testify to cold water's effects on metabolism.

That said, I cherish my hot baths and showers - especially after a workout. Is there any truly compelling evidence that I should consider giving these up or reducing how often I expose myself to hot water? One obvious drawback is the effects of hot water in drying skin, but I'm most interested in any deleterious impact that regular hot showers, hot baths (or even hot tubs) would have on my metabolism.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on May 20, 2011
at 01:01 AM

Marked down for?

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on May 19, 2011
at 02:09 PM

After all this time, I still don't understand the basic idea behind post-workout ice baths (even though I've taken some for experimentation sake). If the goal is to be able to recover quicker and do more workouts or more intense workouts, is that really a wise goal? Giving the body time to recuperate seems like it would address several physiological adaptations, whereas ice baths only adress inflammation and blood flow. Recovery shortcuts may be nice in the short term, but I wonder if they are worth it in the long term.

4ff24fb9a7d48305681487dfb8040a5e

(383)

on April 21, 2011
at 04:46 AM

boob juice...haha, love it :-)

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on January 26, 2011
at 03:37 PM

Oh, so there is hope for wusses like me!

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on January 26, 2011
at 06:18 AM

Ha! It is *not*, however, a reliable form of birth control.

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on January 26, 2011
at 06:17 AM

Agreed, all, but would it have affected human evolution at all?

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 26, 2011
at 05:18 AM

One might assume the toxin content of the water would be stabilized by the time it got into the hot water heater. THen the only potentially additional toxins could come from the heater, the pipes, and the air around you.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 26, 2011
at 05:16 AM

Seems to me, it would only be a potential issue post workout, not for typical morning showers.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 26, 2011
at 05:15 AM

Lots of hot springs in California. YOu can get bet all the natives knew exactly where they were.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 26, 2011
at 05:15 AM

I wonder how many males will be taking extra hot baths because you said that!

1f96ce108240f19345c05704c7709dad

(1061)

on January 26, 2011
at 03:44 AM

Hot springs are relatively common; many North American Indians considered them sacred, and would use them regularly.

5672b2d190891342389e764cc4056ca9

(1304)

on January 26, 2011
at 03:01 AM

Probably it is done to decrease muscle inflammation. Whether this is a good idea or not, I'm not so sure...

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on January 26, 2011
at 12:53 AM

Hot water may lower blood sugar somewhat. Epsom Salts come with a warning for diabetics for this reason, I think.

B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

(10778)

on January 25, 2011
at 08:11 PM

but if you were trying to get toxins out of your skin through your pores, this would be a big positive.

1471beca8e3adff4ae2f89d10e5f7acb

(6550)

on January 25, 2011
at 07:32 PM

You know the way that SAD people are like, "I don't care if I get fat and sick and die early, you'll never take my donut away"? I'm totally that way with hot showers.

Medium avatar

(2169)

on January 25, 2011
at 07:14 PM

there is a place in Russia (now covered by a massive earth slide) where bears would go to relax in hot springs. Humans and animals all over the world have used hot springs for relaxation. The Romans used hot springs to fuel their baths. I would think our paleo ancestors would have had found and used them.

518464630b1876e6c41418185dad0912

(305)

on January 25, 2011
at 05:53 PM

If I were nomadic I'd certainly cherish locations with natural hot springs. No idea if paleolithic or modern hunter-gatherer tribes have these available or seek them out.

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on January 25, 2011
at 05:45 PM

Based on what I've heard, applied... cold post exercise is better regarding soreness than heat. Heat just feels sooo much better, drat!

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on January 25, 2011
at 05:40 PM

Good point and very true! Fortunately, that's no longer a relevant concern for me.

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16 Answers

5
5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on January 25, 2011
at 05:38 PM

I'm sure some paleo recreationists might argue that the majority of our paleo ancestors didn't have access to hot or even warm water but I don't think that argument really flies any more.

Personally, I'd say no. All those positive benefits of cold water don't say anything about hot water being bad. I used to be a cool shower person but when I lost 100 lbs last year (on a decidedly non-paleo diet plan - I'm better now!) I felt pretty cold all the time and upped the temp on my showers.

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on January 26, 2011
at 06:17 AM

Agreed, all, but would it have affected human evolution at all?

Medium avatar

(2169)

on January 25, 2011
at 07:14 PM

there is a place in Russia (now covered by a massive earth slide) where bears would go to relax in hot springs. Humans and animals all over the world have used hot springs for relaxation. The Romans used hot springs to fuel their baths. I would think our paleo ancestors would have had found and used them.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 26, 2011
at 05:15 AM

Lots of hot springs in California. YOu can get bet all the natives knew exactly where they were.

1f96ce108240f19345c05704c7709dad

(1061)

on January 26, 2011
at 03:44 AM

Hot springs are relatively common; many North American Indians considered them sacred, and would use them regularly.

518464630b1876e6c41418185dad0912

(305)

on January 25, 2011
at 05:53 PM

If I were nomadic I'd certainly cherish locations with natural hot springs. No idea if paleolithic or modern hunter-gatherer tribes have these available or seek them out.

5
154d799847153f5589f99496a9bdbb71

on January 25, 2011
at 05:35 PM

Probably not an answer to your question, but it needs to be said. For males, fertility might be a concern in hot baths:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/64481.php

I can't imagine any other issues. Hot tubs are pretty damn effective damn at stress relief.

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on January 25, 2011
at 05:40 PM

Good point and very true! Fortunately, that's no longer a relevant concern for me.

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on January 26, 2011
at 06:18 AM

Ha! It is *not*, however, a reliable form of birth control.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 26, 2011
at 05:15 AM

I wonder how many males will be taking extra hot baths because you said that!

4
5edbf85deaf83e13b176df023abb154d

on January 25, 2011
at 08:06 PM

I bathe every day in as hot water as I can take. No idea why, just like to do it.

(Probably not a helpful answer, but wanted to advance the discussion with my personal experience.)

4
6b6fd8871edb729c22e3e8a44e17ec0f

(260)

on January 25, 2011
at 07:57 PM

Someone was telling me recently that native Siberians and Finnish people (and maybe others in the north) would bathe in hot water or use a sauna/sweat type thing pretty frequently, to keep their core body temperatures up. I guess that doesn't really apply to us these days, but it's a thought. Hot steamy showers are really wonderful to stay invigorated during cold winters (especially when you keep the heat down in the house to conserve energy)!

4
7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

on January 25, 2011
at 05:42 PM

I know during my marathon training we were told to take a cold shower or bath immediately after, even if we REALLY, REALLY wanted a hot one because it would help with our muscle soreness. I'm not sure of the reasons why. I know when I did listen to them I could tell the difference. There was definitely less muscle soreness with a cold shower/bath following a long run. I hated it though.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 26, 2011
at 05:16 AM

Seems to me, it would only be a potential issue post workout, not for typical morning showers.

5672b2d190891342389e764cc4056ca9

(1304)

on January 26, 2011
at 03:01 AM

Probably it is done to decrease muscle inflammation. Whether this is a good idea or not, I'm not so sure...

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on January 25, 2011
at 05:45 PM

Based on what I've heard, applied... cold post exercise is better regarding soreness than heat. Heat just feels sooo much better, drat!

3
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 26, 2011
at 05:19 AM

If it's supposed to be bad, then why does it feel so damned good!?!

(same line as for sex..)

1
1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

on April 20, 2011
at 08:14 PM

I don't know if they are unhealthy or not but nothing settles my cranky teething 4 month old better than a warm bath with mom followed by some fresh boob juice.

4ff24fb9a7d48305681487dfb8040a5e

(383)

on April 21, 2011
at 04:46 AM

boob juice...haha, love it :-)

1
535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on April 20, 2011
at 05:49 PM

I long hot shower is one of the joys of life.

1
2507b557331c8a674bc81197531e609a

(4994)

on January 26, 2011
at 04:45 PM

I LOVE hot baths, on the odd occassion my anxiety rears it's ugly head, a hot bath with candles is sure to sort it out.

1
89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 26, 2011
at 10:35 AM

Although I really like my cold showers, the kind of joy is totally different from the hot shower. It is more like the nice feeling of a rigorous workout: fun, but hard at the same time.

I remember doing some research on the possible effects of cold (due to a patient of mine who has multiple sclerosis and has less musculoskeletal problems after cold water treatment). If I remember there are a lot of reasons to have some cold stress once in a while. It works a lot like physical activity, through the mechanism of hormesis.

I have not yet seen any reason why a hot shower should be avoided. Except for me, even if I don't use soap nor shampoo, hot water dries the skin (in winter).

Since mostly taking really cold showers I have improved my ability to tolerate cold. The patient I mentioned, has never been sick since she swims in cold water baths.

I would say it is worth the effort. Start with rinsing your legs with cold water at the end of your shower. See how it goes.

(fwiw, I used to be a total wuss about cold water, my younger brother and sister always made fun out of me)

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on January 26, 2011
at 03:37 PM

Oh, so there is hope for wusses like me!

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 26, 2011
at 09:44 AM

one of my theories as to why a great majority of japanese manage to stay so slim despite eating so much and so often is that it is due to a tradition to take hot baths everyday

1
E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on January 26, 2011
at 05:35 AM

My thinking is to not worry about what books or doctors or what anyone else says, and just do whatever feels good. I've had a bad head cold for the last few weeks, and the hot shower with all of the steam it's been the best feeling, and it helps relax my muscles. It can definitely affect my body temp and it can take a while to adjust, but the change seems more positive than negative.

I have strong feelings about not one single diet being right for all people or at all times in their lives, and I have equal feelings about not one doctor or other purporter of a certain ideal as not being 100% right. There is much in physiology that no one has figured out. My approach is to try different things and listen to the signals my body sends me. I think it's really easy to get hung up on what one doctor says, but for me, it's about what what provides optimal health based on the way I feel.

1
Medium avatar

on January 25, 2011
at 07:39 PM

Well, toxins more readily dissolve in hot water, so I suppose you'd have slightly more toxic water if it were hotter. I'd say it's more important to have shorter/less frequent showers instead of colder ones, since you're exposed to far less in the way of chlorine etc.

B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

(10778)

on January 25, 2011
at 08:11 PM

but if you were trying to get toxins out of your skin through your pores, this would be a big positive.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 26, 2011
at 05:18 AM

One might assume the toxin content of the water would be stabilized by the time it got into the hot water heater. THen the only potentially additional toxins could come from the heater, the pipes, and the air around you.

0
24fcc21452ebe39c032be6801d6bbadd

(9812)

on May 19, 2011
at 12:32 PM

I LOVE a hot bath, but I'm now avoiding them after intense workouts- I had read this Whole9 post on ice baths and inquired if a PWO hot bath was a bad idea, and Melissa answered that it is probably not conducive to recovery because it could increase inflammation; made sense to me. I don't have the balls yet to do a PWO ice bath, but I'm being less liberal with taking hot ones, FWIW.

http://whole9life.com/2011/04/ice-ice-baby/

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on May 19, 2011
at 02:09 PM

After all this time, I still don't understand the basic idea behind post-workout ice baths (even though I've taken some for experimentation sake). If the goal is to be able to recover quicker and do more workouts or more intense workouts, is that really a wise goal? Giving the body time to recuperate seems like it would address several physiological adaptations, whereas ice baths only adress inflammation and blood flow. Recovery shortcuts may be nice in the short term, but I wonder if they are worth it in the long term.

0
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on May 19, 2011
at 11:49 AM

Contrast showers - after training and before bed... it's like a knockout punch.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on May 20, 2011
at 01:01 AM

Marked down for?

0
7767e05a8c4504f6be03f13ee40815cd

(1299)

on April 20, 2011
at 08:44 PM

Just anecdotal, but I find that a hot shower before bed takes away my sleepiness. For this reason, if I'm already tired I'll use lukewarm water.

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