Don’t worry: we’re not on the let-fat-literally-melt-away or sweat-off-the-extra-weight bandwagon. But there are well-documented connections between high stress levels and obesity as well as between stress reduction and hot tubs. So it’s really not too much of a jump from your back yard hot tub to meeting your weight loss goals!
Weight Loss Facts
Did you know that over 50 million Americans start diets each year? As significant as that number may be, this one is even more so: only between 1 and 5% of those who begin diets keep the weight off. In response to questions about long-term weight management, many doctors point to continual healthy habits including the following categories:
- making healthy food choices
- cutting alcohol intake
- exercising regularly
- managing stress
In other posts, we considered the coordination of hot tub use with your daily workout regimen as well as the unique health benefits of salt water hot tubs. But now we’re going to focus on the mental health or stress-reduction benefits of hot tub use.
High Stress and Weight Gain
How does stress promote weight gain? The chief answer can be boiled down to one word: cortisol. This stress hormone is the one that our bodies use to respond to a threat, producing a fight-or-flight response. Once helpful in a society in which physical threats occasionally occurred but lifestyles were generally less stressful, the pressures of modern life often trigger cortisol levels to rise unnecessarily. High stress levels produce an overage of cortisol production; this higher cortisol production has no easy outlet in today’s world whereas in the past it may have helped you in time of great emergency, such as in outrunning a bear. The result today is continually more stress and less satisfaction overall in life.
How do increased cortisol levels correspond to weight gain? First, many Americans turn to sweet, salty, or fatty foods to self-medicate. Referred to as “stress eating,” this phenomenon is far from unusual. In addition to prompting poor eating habits, cortisol blocks testosterone, the hormone responsible for building strong muscles, which are necessary for efficiently burning calories. Instead of burning calories, testosterone-deprived bodies accrue more fat. A third result of high cortisol levels is increased fat storage, particularly in the abdominal area. Compared to fat in other parts of the area, deep abdominal fat has 400% the amount of cortisol receptors as other fat stores.
Decreased Stress and Hot Tubs
When we experience less stress, we’re all more likely to eat healthier, exercise, and enjoy social interaction. As a result, the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of hot tubs can certainly contribute to long-term weight loss. Immersion in the warm water helps dilate blood vessels, allowing for increased blood flow. The buoyancy of water combines with the heat to promote the blood’s delivery of oxygen to more of the body, providing a sense of well-being. This increased circulation also allows the heart to more easily pump the blood, allowing breathing to slow; deep, controlled breathing works then to reduce the secretion of cortisol.
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