You may think that basking in a long, hot bath is simply a relaxing, feel-good thing. In fact, it can provide some similar benefits to exercise. Using blood tests, researchers at Loughborough University in the U.K. found that a hot bath raises the body’s temperature, like a workout does, which acts as a catalyst for the inflammatory response usually seen after an intense physical bout.
“Raised core temperature can increase the concentration of a protein found in the blood called IL-6,” explains study co-author Christof Leicht, a lecturer in exercise physiology. This protein triggers a sequence of anti-inflammatory reactions that help lower your risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. While participants chilled in hot water for an hour, other research shows as little as 20 minutes, three times a week, has positive effects on blood sugar.