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A hot bath has benefits similar to exercise (theconversation.com)
298 points by walterbell on March 20, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 226 comments

Exercising (moderate physical activity) for 2-2.5 hours per week leads to a 20% reduction in all-cause mortality (not to mention its many other benefits). Exercising for an additional 5.5 hours leads to another 20% reduction.

No preventative intervention we have in medicine leads to that kind of gains (except maybe quiting smoking).

Articles like this are probably causing harm to the people that read them by discouraging them from exercise [conjecture]. Until I see rigorous mortality data on taking bath, I think I'll stick to my exercise routine...

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/resources/recommendatio... (see 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Report [PDF - 4.5MB])

> Exercising (moderate physical activity) for 2-2.5 hours per week leads to a 20% reduction in all-cause mortality (not to mention its many other benefits). Exercising for an additional 5.5 hours leads to another 20% reduction.

With a very important caveat in the report:

> Because all of the studies in the evidence base were observational epidemiologic studies with no randomized controlled trials, the data cannot prove causality of effect.

People who don't feel that great when they exercise (despite everyone urging them to exercise) are probably not in the best health. The pervasive advice to exercise more will by itself confound the studies, because healthier people will tend to self-select into the "exercise" group.


And even your willing to exercise changes during live. It was easier and fun to exercise when was a teenager and so on. Become lot less when gained almost 40 pounds in a month due to medication. Become even less interesting when would get hurt for exercising while overweight. Become a no-go when got a muscle strain for simply going downstairs because a physiotherapist pushed a bit too much and was under muscular fatigue.

I'd prefer to take a bath and have some benefits that fell all that pain again and immobilize my leg and loose what I've earned in the past 4 months.

For those who already like to exercise (or are willing to despite saying "I don't like, just like the benefits", or any kind of wording of this idea), well, this study won't make a difference.

For me, yes, it makes.

I agree with your comments entirely. I'll also add, however, that even though this is cohort data 1) there is A LOT of data, almost all of it in agreement for hundreds and hundreds of studies, over millions of person years and 2) there is pretty strong evidence of a dose-response relationship. Both of those two points help (though don't entirely eliminate) the weaknesses inherent in cohort data.

It doesn't change the fact that if you take approx 150 from each of the activity groups, the cohort study will tell:

Approximately 5 from the "slobs" will die.

Approximately 4 from the "moderate exercise group" will die.

Approximately 3 from the "forrest gump group" will die.

On a personal level, to me these groups are more or less the same in terms of mortality, but somebody marketed the 20% really well.

I understand your point, while not detracting from the benefits of exercise, eating well, having moments of calm, etc,etc, these studies when reduced to a personal level become nonsensical, while one can make choices that at a 'group' level might suggest cause and effect, when the sample size is one, and it's you, the 'odds' are of little consequence, what is happening to you is the reality, knowing some malaise is is common, rare, or influenced by some life factors has no bearing...

Well if you truly don't understand math, please transfer 20% of your wealth to me. I mean, from your perspective it's the same amount of wealth, right?

that's not the point, the posters point is that the way the math was used added dramatic effect, it did not aid in understanding the meaning of the findings.

Exactly. 20% or 40% sounds really big. In reality, you're maybe lowering your chance to die (during some time) by less than 2% by exercising almost constantly. Now, if you're not enjoying exercise, or feel exhausted after exercising, you actually reduce the amount of "quality life" by exercising.

If exercise was a drug, they'd never allow it on the market.

> If exercise was a drug, they'd never allow it on the market.

Plenty of drugs have much worse efficacy and "numbers needed to treat" figures than exercise.

Current exercise advice is about 30 minutes per session with 3 sessions a week.

Not really. Take your 30 minutes of exercise per week that will reduce the chance of dying by 1% (2% is for the forrest gumps). Let's say you can do that by spending 60 minutes a day (changing clothes, getting dressed / undressed, showered and so on). In a 52-week year that will amount to loss of 156 hours of your life. For 8-hour work days that's 19.5 workdays. A good vacation's worth! No drug is allowed to do that.

And if you break your ankle or break your wrist or elbow when exercising, it'll never be as good as new.

What a silly set of arguments. Exercise is literally empty time for you with no other benefit? Lets put aside the fact that you receive endorphin from almost any exercise you do. You can't go to the beach, rock climb, play with your kids/dog, etc.? No, must be productive all the time. Even if that was the case, it's quality adjusted lifespan that counts for most people.

You may break your wrist sure. In the same way that you may get wrist injury from typing too much. Exercise will reduce the likelihood of other injury.

Ugh, your comment is so stupid I can't even be bothered to think of a proper reply.

In real world terms, holding on to the banister when going up and down stairs and sitting down when putting on your trousers on are real life extenders :)

This is the correct answer. Mobility is more important than exercise. You'll lose mobility by breaking bones.

There are are plenty of well understood mechanisms for how exercise can improve health. There are way may plausible but not yet well understood ways it can help.

Clearly any error from the self selection you described does not counter an demonstrable mechanism.

What if the study compared bedridden 100-year-olds as non-exercisers to the college track team? The track team was 20% less likely to die in the subsequent 10 years...

Self-selection can completely override other well-understood mechanisms...

These studies are usually done as cohort studies. Meaning the study group shares a defining trait (such as the same date of birth).

Obviously this is not as great as a double-blind study. But you can't let one group do real exercise and the other one placebo exercise. So the cohort study is probably the best possible study design in this case.

The people doing these studies try very hard to minimize biases (sometimes failing, but ruling out every possible biases is hard).

This is exactly why I can't trust prescriptive conclusions from correlation studies. Didn't Google publish some method on resolving causation in correlation? Something about transfer of noise?

Yeah, it has its weaknesses and also from my comment below: "So I read the study for fun and the non-adjusted rates are 3.84% death rate (cohort study) in no exercise vs. 2.35% in 1-30 minutes and 2.08% in more. And that's not adjusted for pre-existing conditions if I understood correctly. So meh. Even though 20% and 20% sounds really great!"

I didn't find anything there for longer periods of time but odds ratio is not a great indicator if your base chance of dying is already really low. Or maybe spend the whole week exercising to squeeze that last 0.1% out of your chance of dying.

3.84% to 2.08% is a 45% reduction in the amount of people that died. I don't understand your point, there is no obfuscation here, that's just how percentages work.

Um, no. 3.84% to 2.08% being an approx 40% reduction is exactly what is being avoided currently in research since its reduction of less than 2 percentage units. Imagine a medication that has a "20% and 40% reduction in mortality": You'd have to have more than 150 people treated to the max to save one person vs other cases (more than 75 to save vs no medication). Not 5 as your percentage implies. Not very efficient way to spend money if you ask me.

(3.84 - 2.08) / 3.84 = 45% less people dead

It's not 'my' percentage, nor subjective.

I mean you could argue the study is biased or the sample size too small, but your understanding of percentages seems flawed.

I recommend you take basic university statistics. Especially study efficacy vs effectiveness so you might have an idea how you're being mislead here.

As somebody that exercises a lot (HIIT, cycling up hills, double black diamond skiing, tennis, lifting), I find longer stays in saunas/spas (>1h in "hot" overall, <15min/hot session, 1min/cold session) very beneficial as well, giving me a great feeling of well-being and clear mind, especially in winter (combined with D + Magnesium etc.), so I wouldn't be surprised if it had a positive long-term effect as well. I also look 15 years younger I am told, but that might be partially from being an electronic music composer ;-)

TIL Americans call red slopes "black diamond" and black slopes "double black diamond". Dunno why, but it's just really funny to me as a Scandinavian. (By nature of my origin I obviously also enjoy the sauna.)

Technically this depends on a resort - in Aspen or Squaw Valley a double black diamond is in the "insane" level category, much steeper/challenging than even the black FIS slope in Sölden. I remember the lift sign in Squaw Valley's Headwall/Palisades - "Experts only. No easy way down.", and it was like that. Maybe upper part of Hahnenkamm could be comparable ;-) Usually double black diamond corresponds to European free ride zones near steep ridges.

Of course. Trail ratings in North America are relative to each resort. I've gone down blues in the west that are far more challenging than the double blacks at a few areas in New England.

What does being an EDM composer have to do with looking young? Would be more inclined to associate it with MDMA and other drugs that would wear the body down.

Look at Armin van Buuren, Darude, Jean Michel Jarre etc. For some reason there are many music producers/DJs in their 30s-60s that look way younger than they should ;-) I don't remember who was that but one DJ that was ~42 looked like 18 (non-asian) and everybody was freaking out (I'll try to find that pic somewhere). Maybe this type of music energy activates something in the brain, who knows?

Kind of a nitpick, but electronic != EDM.

I assumed that the meaning here was "people see the way I dress and assume I'm 15 years younger." I expect that anyone frequenting the EDM scene is dressing the part.

what do you take magnesium for?

My doc told me to always take magnesium if I take vitamin D.

I've just found an article about why to do it:


Seems like magnesium is needed to convert D to its active form.

That website smells hokum to me. The prominent ads for magnesium supplements on that page are disconcerting, as are several references to "Dr. So-and-So" with no links to anything even pretending to be peer-reviewed articles. (Actually the "About Me" page is pretty much a flashing red neon sign when you go to it).

But even discounting that, the claim that magnesium is "used up" converting Vitamin D sounds, well, wrong. The closest thing I can find to a need to convert vitamin D into an "active form" is the conversion of cholecalciferol to calcidiol and thence calcitriol. The relevant enzymes all seem to be heme cofactors using iron in the heme, not magnesium. I also don't see any peer-reviewed articles looking at magnesium impacts on vitamin D uptake. There's a few old ones (~1991, with some even earlier) that suggest that vitamin D might affect magnesium intake.

It might be that magnesium is associated with the vitamin D precursor enzymes, since magnesium is a fairly widespread inhibitor of certain enzymes (in particular, it looks like it impacts parathyroid hormone, which is also impacted by Ca²⁺ ions in the normal case of action for vitamin D). But if that's the case, it's not that magnesium is being "used up" by vitamin D but rather you need a certain amount of it in your bloodstream to keep your calcium metabolism working.

If I'm reading https://examine.com/supplements/magnesium/ correctly:

Vitamin D is currently the only Essential Vitamin or Mineral which appears to have deficiency rates at a similar level to Magnesium, if not greater. The metabolism of Vitamin D inherently is linked to Magnesium. Magnesium levels in the brain can be negatively regulated by an excess of parathyroid hormone (PTH), where PTH causes release of calcium into the blood (being met with an increase of magnesium to retain homeostasis) possibly being a contributing factor to chronic depletion of magnesium concentration in neural tissue. As vitamin D reliably suppresses excess PTH, it may exert neural benefits secondary to preservation of Magnesium levels in the brain.

A Vitamin D deficiency could lead to magnesium depletion (Vitamin D deficency allows excess PTH, releases calcium, depletes magnesium). So in fact, the opposite is the case right? At sufficient Vitamin D levels you shouldn't have to supplement magnesium, assuming no dietary deficiency of it. Right?

As I'm reading the data... it sounds like like low vitamin D makes it harder to get enough magnesium, but high vitamin D has no effect on magnesium levels and (high or low) magnesium has no effect on vitamin D levels.

So the recommendation for vitamin D+magnesium would basically be "we think you've got low both if you've got low vitamin D, so just take both of them," relying on kidney functions to fix anything you've got too much of.

Funny my nephrologist hasn't mentioned it I have kidney failure and take 4x250ng D 3 times a week,

Fascinating. Maybe I'm misinterpreting your units, but I have no related health condition (other than living in Canada), and I take 3x1000 every day (in months with an R in them).

Maybe you're somewhere particularly sunny?

Stage 4/5 Kidney failure will do that unfortunately - it messes with your biochemistry.

ng? as in nanograms? 1000 nanogram = 1 microgram (mcg), 40 IU = 1 mcg.

I take 5000 IU a day, or 125 mcg.

Are you sure it is not for post mdma effects ? :)

This 2015 study on sauna use seems to point to something going on. There's a lot of speculation about whether heat shock proteins play a similar role in both hyperthermic conditioning and exercise (perhaps a form of hyperthermic conditioning in its own right). Scientists sometimes refer to sauna as "exercise mimicking".


> For all-cause mortality, sauna bathing 2 to 3 times per week was associated with a 24 percent lower risk and 4 to 7 times per week with a 40 percent reduction in risk compared to only one sauna session per week.

I got the reference from Rhonda Patrick who did a summary of this any other research here:


A combination of exercise and heat-stress is almost certainly best, but there is probably significant overlap in effect.

I'm wondering how good/bad the combination is (think"hot yoga"), or if too much stress on cells/heart is simply too much.

It's a good question. I've seen some studies that show better recovery from exercise if it is followed by a steam or sauna. I don't think we know enough to determine what the dose-response curve looks like.

Related: the science is far from complete on cold exposure, but cryotherapy (cold air or ice baths) seems to enhance recovery for endurance training, but it strangely reduces progress in strength training, at least if it is done immediately following exercise. There is speculation that cold exposure reduces the post-exercise inflammation response enough to limit the body's repair response. This might not be the case if you do cold exposure outside of the post-exercise window (but this hasn't been studied afaik). Once again all credit to Rhonda Patrick who covers this in one of her videos on cryotherapy.

Actually 20% is dwarfed by other interventions. "Swedish study demonstrated that over a 20- year period, women who avoided the sun were TWICE AS LIKELY TO DIE OF ANY CAUSE, as women who were sun-seekers" referring to:

Lindqvist PG, Epstein E, Nielsen K, Landin-Olsson M, Ingvar C, Olsson H. Avoidance of sun exposure as a risk factor for major causes of death: a competing risk analysis of the Melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort. J Intern Med. 2016 Oct;280(4):375-87

Lindqvist PG, Epstein E, Landin-Olsson M, Ingvar C, Nielsen K, Stenbeck M, Olsson H. Avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for all-cause mortality: results from the Melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort. J Intern Med. 2014 Jul;276(1):77-86

but couldn't that be because people who are more stressed are more likely to be photosensitive? Photo-phobia is a symptom of many severe diseases...

Stress and MCAS often do correlate with photosensitivity, and if you have MCAS all your allergy-like reactions are going to be increased by stress, true. I've found that if my exposure to sunlight is very regular I do pretty well, though. Of course, if stress leads you to take tricyclics, they can cause photosensitivity as well. I would not discount the possibility that regular sun exposure reduces stress by boosting the immune system (not just by Vitamin D) however: https://www.labroots.com/trending/health-and-medicine/4846/b...

Anyone who believes they can bathe instead of exercise is probably not exercising to begin with. I doubt this study would result in reduced exercise. But I could be wrong.

It does help to perpetuate a myth that there are alternatives to exercise which could enter in to a persons decision to exercise or not, even if they decide to do something else with their time.

Every generation has to create its effort-free alternative to exercise, whether it's electrodes you attach to your abs or standing there while a vibrating belt shakes your body.

Even George Jetson would sit around while the computer exercised for him, so I guess we know what's coming in the future.

Crippling socialized medical costs as the obesity rate skyrockets. :-/

Healthy people are more expensive.

People who don't exercise simply die young (in their 50s and 60s) and people who are healthy can cling on for decades fully utilizing the range of expensive treatments.

Source? My understanding is that particularly in the US, we can keep unhealthy people going for a very long time, for a lot of $$$.

My source was the freakonomics podcasts.

I would agree that a billionaire with predictable medical expenses will more options than a person in any sort of health and likely live longer. Most people in bad health don't have unlimited money thought (simply because most people don't have unlimited money).

Does this account for the additional value a longer life may bring to society? A healthy person could stay in the workforce longer for example.

No not at all, just raw expense.

We are out of jobs. Need to downsize the human race. post peak employment.

If the economy's failing to engage with everyone, the answer is a less dysfunctional economy, not death camps.

Upvoted for gainz.

Also here is a good hyperthermic conditioning article Dr. Rhonda Patrick/Tim Ferriss put together http://tim.blog/2014/04/10/saunas-hyperthermic-conditioning-...

Increased endurance, increased muscle hypertrophy and positive brain effects.

> Articles like this are probably causing harm to the people that read them by discouraging them from exercise [conjecture]

I know people who gleefully say 'ice cream burns calories!' while scarfing down a huge portion of desert. It's thanks to these fantasy articles where doing something easy or damaging is the same as exercising or eating healthy.

If one assumes the article is false - but in any case I can assure you that excuses not to exercise aren't rare or hard to find. I'm using one right now!

> excuses not to exercise aren't rare or hard to find

I feel like many fad diets fit the bill here. It's easy to take something that is healthy for you (eating well) and sell it as an alternative to exercise, when the latter is complementary to the former.

Hot baths are effective, but mostly in conjunction with actual excersise as well (pros, especially ones who are involved in very heavy lifting, regular have hot/cold post-workout baths). This article is very sadly misleading.

I would be interested in any bibliography you can supply regarding this interaction, since I'm currently interested in interventions (including but not limited to heat) that affect extracellular bacterial populations; and this could contradict some other evidence. (There is of course a lot of literature on heat-related illness and deaths during sports and exercise - so much so that it makes it hard to search pubmed for articles concerning the interaction you've pointed to.)

I'm already not exercising, so adding a bath sounds like it would be better than nothing. But honestly, I doubt I'd have the willpower to go to the trouble of bathing for an hour each day either.

Put your tablet in a ziploc bag and it's easy to spend an hour in the tub.

If you want to exercise I would suggest taking a fitness class like ripped. It's one hour long and you can modulate your intensity.

I see something similar in every article about some % of marathon runners who have heart problems. So many people read that and say, "Glad I don't run at all."

Not sure you read the article, the last paragraph makes clear that they hope this will help people that are unable to exercise. I guess they are thinking of the elderly or similar.

Of course people will interpret it as they wish but this is interesting research, not "vaccines-cause-x" type of research. For those looking for excuses I'm sure they can find plenty of others already.

Exercise as a gain reminds me of indoor plumbing: Indoor plumbing is perhaps responsible for a larger gain in life expectancy and preventive health than almost any other medical innovation in the history of mankind (also conjecture ;) ).

>Articles like this are probably causing harm to the people that read them by discouraging them from exercise

That makes me wonder how much the 'red wine is good for you' study added to alcoholism.

With "research" like "a glass of red equals to 30 minutes of exercise" and "beer may be the best recovery drink after physical activity" I think I have my exercise program in place!

I really don't understand those numbers. Surely mortality is 100% regardless of exercise. How was the study designed?

So I read the study for fun and the non-adjusted rates are 3.84% death rate (cohort study) in no exercise vs. 2.35% in 1-30 minutes and 2.08% in more. And that's not adjusted for pre-existing conditions if I understood correctly. So meh. Even though 20% and 20% sounds really great!

So exercise is good, fasting is good, heat is good, cold is good. It seems all short term stress is good.

I'm waiting for the study that shows binge drinking is good :)

"hormesis" is the idea that a stressful thing in small amounts can often have a positive effect. http://gettingstronger.org/ is an excellent website on hormesis applied to a bunch of common problems (eg. improving eyesight, eliminating back pain, eliminating allergies, curing insomnia, eliminating obesity, stopping procrastination, overcoming addictions, etc.)

Have there been clinical studies of doing this to correct eyesight? A few years ago I would hear radio ads, which struck several of my snake-oil buttons, and they've totally disappeared from the radio, which presses a few more.

(Because I'm feeling kind I won't even make you groan by asking if the studies were double-blind.)

And it appears to even apply to radiation:


You know it's a bullshit site when they claim myopia can be reversed.

That's some cult-level wishful thinking.

When I discover I've been served undercooked meat, I immediately graduate to tequila shots: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/15/health/the-claim-drinking-...

>binge drinking is good

We all wish. Binge drinking is great if you want to put on some fat :) Sorry, I have some bad news for you.

The evidence here is unfortunately pretty strong - binge drinking causes all sorts of negative effects, upsetting your metabolism and muscle synthesis.

Population studies of alcohol consumption overall show that even minimal drinking habits (1/day) increase your risk of death from various cancers and issues. It's offset by reduction in cardiovascular deaths until a break-even of about 3/day for men.

Most of these studies are self-reported, based off correlation not causation. Health problems lead some to a reduction in drinking. I'm unconvinced the benefits are real. We just enjoy drinking too damn much.

A standard drink is often much less than what we'll consider a drink. A 20oz pint of some strong craft beer can hit 3 standard drinks. Optimal dosages based on a health Canada study were 0.25 drinks for women and 0.5 for men. Enjoy your half-can of beer!

Don't drink for the health benefits. They're at best overstated and, if they do exist, are likely better obtained by doing something we've actually tested for causality.

>Binge drinking is great if you want to put on some fat

I know you're joking, but even if you were looking to get fat, there're still better ways to do it.

If your aim was to get hungover, then maybe drinking is the best way, haha.

> I'm waiting for the study that shows binge drinking is good :)

I'm convinced a decent session has seen off an impending cold on occasions. Presumably by giving my antibodies a home advantage.

Fasting seems like the opposite of stress- your digestive tract isn't actually doing anything

Actually, you're well off, but not for the reason you think. Let me explain.

Fasting invokes all your counter-regulatory hormones: cortisol, adrenaline, others but they are the big players - because not having easy access to sugar leads to a stress response.

So it isn't gut rest, it's physiological phase change that is causing the stress response

How long is the stress response ? is it only transient before switching to a "fasting" regime or is it long lasting ?

I guess depends on your definition of a stress response; most people would consider it to be a 'stress response' whilst you have high adrenergic/sympathetic activity. Upon activation of the parasympathetic nervous system there will be a gradual decrease in cortisol and a rapid decrease in adrenaline.

Thyroid hormone is also going to be implicated somewhere along with a host of other hormones so I have simplified but suffice to say it's shades of grey on the way in and out

Two days of fasting apparently causes metabolically expensive parts of the immune system to go into low-power mode w/ white blood cell apoptosis. Resuming eating on day three reboots everything and you end up a fresh young army of white blood cells.

Anywhere i can read more about this? low-power mode and reboots are two terms that are used a lot by mommy bloggers selling ebooks promoting fad diets. Is there any published researchers that talks about this?

Not using those specific terms, unsurprisingly, but this may be of interest: https://news.usc.edu/63669/fasting-triggers-stem-cell-regene...

Stress is not about doing a lot, it's about being anxious.

The digestive tract may not do anything, but the body gets into "we're fighting possible starvation" mode.

The word stress has a broader meaning than the mental/anxiety aspect though.

digestive tract maybe not, but metabolism/endocrine system does actually respond.

I think the stress in that case comes from your body reacting to not having food.

> These activities – such as soaking in a hot tub or taking a sauna – may have health benefits for people who are unable to exercise regularly.

I would add not only "unable", but "unwilling". Some people don't get any pleasure by exercising, and perhaps having 50% of the benefits of cycling is better than having none.

True, but the "50% of the benefits of cycling" isn't accurate.

When I cycle for fun/exercise, with a heart rate monitor, I've burned (an estimated) as many as 650 calories in a half hour. A "normal" ride is typically closer to 800-1,000/hr. According to this chart[1] - a 150lb person cycling at a "moderate" pace would burn 563 calories.

In the study, people sitting in hot tubs for an hour burned about 150 calories per hour, which is about 2x what you'd expect to burn during an hour of sleep.

According to the study, sitting in a hot tub for an hour is more like 25% of the (calorie burning) benefit you'd expect from an hour of moderate cycling, and just under 20% of the benefit you'd expect from an hour of vigorous cycling.

[1] http://www.nutristrategy.com/fitness/cycling.htm

One thing I don't hear mentioned very much w/ exercise and calorie burning is that your body continues burning calories after working out and exercise changes the rate that your body burns calories throughout the day.

For my workouts, I've found sprints and lifting weights on the heavy side to be great because my body spends a lot of energy rebuilding that muscle for a day or two after.

I'd be surprised if baths can change your resting calorie burn rate but I could see them improving circulation and heart health. People should probably still exercise though. Heh, finally I have an excuse to get that jacuzzi in the living room...

It isn't very much. There are charts that show the post workout calorie utilization, and might was well not bother counting it. And if you are running a caloric deficit anyways, it might actually hurt you since your body cannot repair itself well anyways. Example, if you are trying to keep[ muscle while dieting (in caloric deficit), running and lifting heavy is a way to lose muscle.

Lifting heavy while dieting actually is helpful for not losing muscle, as long as you eat enough protein: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2016/01/26/ajcn.115....

That actually repeats what I just said. They lifted, but not "heavy" or until failure. And they did HIIT, not long runs. While they are still trying to figure it out, it appears long runs for example tear down muscule tissue and there isn't enough calories in the diet to rebuild.

> Example, if you are trying to keep[ muscle while dieting (in caloric deficit), running and lifting heavy is a way to lose muscle.

No, that kind of exercise is what you do to assure that you are maintaining muscle in a deficit; not having that kind of exercise and having a calorie deficit is how you lose muscle instead of fat.

Apparently it's called "afterburn" and some googling doesn't seem to turn up anything saying it's not a significant effect... In fact, it seems like everyone is saying it's pretty significant (how much exactly being debatable and probably highly influenced by genetics). Where have you heard the opposite?

Every study I've seen says it is a fairly small amount of calories and you should just ignore it when trying to figure out how many calories an exercise burns. Like we know that running faster slightly increases post exercise caloric burn over running slower (on a per mile basis), but we don't bother calculating it in.

That assumes "calorie burning" is a benefit. Not everyone needs to lose weight (or even exercise to keep their weight stable).

The vast majority of people in the US do.

The vast majority of people do not live in the US. I realize this is a US-centric forum, but these things warrant qualifications.

Please read the parent comment again. They said - "vast majority of people in the US".

I referred to the original comnent that just took it fir granted that calorie burning is an advantage.

Same here on calorie burn for cycling.

Its 50% the caloric benefit of walking which seems a pretty low bar.

Count me amongst the unwilling! I can't wait for a magic bullet or pill that gives me the results I want without trying. I'm supposed to feel guilty about that admission, but I do not.

The problem with not exercising for HN-types is that your brain suffers because of it. Your cognition isn't as good as it could be and will decline faster than if you exercised. Also more likely to develop neuronal disorders later in life, and those aren't very fun.


Does this take into account the time she could have spent learning new programming skills?

Serious question. With pre- and post phases (changing clothes, shower) and the post-sluggishness, the exercise that you are doing in your free time just to do exercise can be quite an extra time investment.

(no anti-exercise opinion here, but I find it better to combine exercise with commuting or real hobbies)

I think you are drawing a false dilemma here. Exercise is absolutely critical to mental and physical health, there are no substitutes. Studying and exercise should be balanced as time allows but exercise should never be eliminated.

Studying without exercise would be like studying by only skimming text. It's really not worth the time if you can't understand and retain what you are studying.

>Does this take into account the time she could have spent learning new programming skills?

Because she can't find 30 mins per day (or less) not devoted to programming skills or other stuff, to do exercise?

Does the question takes into account the less years of practicing those programming skills because of earlier demise due to bad shape?

Did you read and understand the second & third paragraph at all?

If yes, please name the type of effective exercise that you can complete in 30min, including preparations and clean-up afterwards. Really curious.

(Commuting and hobbies that are not for the sake of doing exercise don't count because they were already mentioned.)

>Did you read and understand the second & third paragraph at all?

Yes, and I find it wrong.

I'm not sure what "preparations" and "clean-up" afterwards you imagine, sounds like excuses not to do any or overthinking it.

It can be just doing some sets of repetitions of body only exercises, without any equipment to put out (a towel on the floor will do). Or a jogging run -- no preparations, just putting on your running shoes and a shower afterwards. Or dancing around in your room. And countless other ways (e.g. getting some gym equipment, a stationary bike, etc).

One showers at the end or start of the day (or should) anyway, and that doesn't have to take more than 5 minutes. And 30 minutes, or even 15-20 minutes, of exercise per day is more than enough to see health benefits.

In fact: "For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends these exercise guidelines: Aerobic activity. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity".

I think the problem with trying to mix exercise with hobbies or commuting is that they don't really satisfy the same physical goals.

Hobbies are for fun. Commuting is for travel. They may involve physical exertion, but they repeat the same movement patterns over and over. You don't exercise all your muscles.

E.g rock climbing is hard but doesn't exercise any pushing movements. Which can become a problem when only one set of muscles is trained.

Good exercise will not only make you fitter in a generally useful way, but help you fix problems like flexibility or posture. I.E we are trying to fix your weaknesses, not just cater to your strengths.

That's true. But primarily I'd like to lose weight. I once had a commute that included a couple miles of walking. I lost significant weight because I was forced to do this (well, too cheap to take a cab or a bus).

I've never been able to motivate myself to do that when I'm not forced to.

Do you take into account the time you could spend learning new programming skills when deciding to sleep more than 5-6 hours a day? Purposefully taking time out of the day to exercise is almost as vital for peak cognitive performance, not to mention the investment in your long-term health which appreciates in marginal value (compared to other things you could do with your time like programming) as you age. If you can work that into your existing daily routine, all the better, but that's getting more and more difficult as the modern day white collar worker has an extremely sedentary daily routine (bed -> car -> office chair -> car -> couch)

I don't know if there are studies that compare those opportunity costs directly, and to me that seems like a tough experiment to set up/run properly.

I seriously doubt, however, that that is an actual trade-off being made in real life. As in, no one I know or have ever met is _actually_ making that trade-off. I've known people that claimed similar reasons for not exercising regularly, but the reality is that they just don't want to -- not that they are making a conscious trade-off based on opportunity cost.

Reality: Most people are probably better off taking 1-1.5 hours of low quality work/fucking around on their computers and use it to exercise instead.

Making breaks actually helps learning. I may start to sound like a broken record, but take a look at this: https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn It's easy to follow, and helps to understand how learning works, what helps it and what hinders it.

right, he would like a pill which does this.


This really cannot be overstated. When I was in college I always made it a point to schedule a fitness class of some kind in my credit load, most of the time it was just a credit to show up at the gym regularly. It was a great way to overcome my laziness and get regular exercise.

It was one of the most important lessons I learned at the time because I had gone through a year or so of no real exercise and when I started again everything became so much easier.

Your body WANTS to move around. There has to be some sport or physical activity you enjoy! Soccer? Badmitton? A game of tag? Land Quidditch?

My brain doesn't want to move my body around. If my body enjoys it, it certainly has never told me it does. Quite the opposite.

Ditto. Some people simply don't understand that other people hate exercise. It is extremely unpleasant for me.

I get that other people enjoy it. Wish I did, but I hate it. The only choice of activity that makes physical work bearable for me is some sort of tangible payoff - I can work hard building things. Some of my heaviest physical activity is carpentry and light construction. I still don't enjoy it, but working towards making something is enough payoff to make it worth it. For this reason, I do quite a bit more of that sort of thing than is probably normal for a desk jockey. I also walk about two miles a day, just two and from work.

For whatever reason, my brain wiring doesn't see "vaguely feeling a bit better in three months, maybe living an extra year or two when everything is falling apart anyway" as sufficient.

The puritans can start on with the you-weren't-raised-right judgements now. I've heard it before.

I look at exercise as a form of self-domination. How can I dominate my life if I can't even dominate myself?

I had a roommate that refused to shower for a week when we ran out of gas because he couldn't even bear the thought of a single 30-second cold shower.

I hate every moment of exercising, but as soon as I'm leaving the gym, it doesn't matter anymore and I'm glad I did it. Even if I wasn't glad, it's necessary for my health. Tough potatoes.

I don't think anyone is surprised that people hate exercise. That's why a tiny portion of the population exercises daily, and everyone else has excuses for why they can't, like "it's particularly unpleasant for me, you just don't understand."

Saying no to another donut also sucks, but that's not a very good reason to eat donuts.

> I don't think anyone is surprised that people hate exercise.

In my experience, plenty of people are surprised when I tell them there is no form of physical activity that I enjoy for its own sake. They start listing activities ("but what about skiing? Playing soccer?") and they seem genuinely surprised when I say that no, in fact, I really don't enjoy any of those things.

I don't understand their surprise either, but there it is.

Some people simply don't understand that other people hate exercise. It is extremely unpleasant for me.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: If done at a proper relative intensity, everyone finds exercise extremely unpleasant in the moment. It's why we give up on planks, wuss-out on an uphill run or climb, back off the pace, listen to music, blab with others, skip the next rep, try to squeak out a few extra seconds before the next interval, and all sorts of other distractions while exercising. So your friends are BSing themselves or not working hard enough.

What people actually enjoy is the feeling of accomplishment that comes after the fact, getting out in nature, or the validation of being in shape, being able to cheat more on meals... basically all the side benefits. It's fine that you don't want to do whatever you prop up in your head as "extremely unpleasant" exercise... just stay active like you are already doing. But please, cut out the mental baloney that you're some special snowflake because you find exercise unpleasant... we're all feeling the pain here.

> we're all feeling the pain here

Are you positing that everyone hates exercise to the same degree? I don't buy it. It's pretty obvious some people enjoy running. It's also pretty obvious some people hate it. Why should running be any different in that way from Brussels sprouts?

> mental baloney that you're some special snowflake because you find exercise unpleasant... we're all feeling the pain here.

The other poster already addressed this, but I'll add: this is the sort response that always comes up.

It clearly costs different people differently, in terms of mental energy and willpower. This "we're all feeling the pain here" is a vaguely polite form of the sort of "just suck it up, wimp" response that I've come to expect.

It clearly costs different people differently, in terms of mental energy and willpower.

Comparatively speaking, we are all wimps anyway. A Kenyan elite marathoner can run my old mile PR twenty-six times over. An elite powerlifter reps out my squat max for a warmup.

Which is why I said "proper relative intensity." If 10 pushups for you scores a four on the pain scale, but 100 pushups for me scores a four, then you do 10 pushups while I do my 100, and we both feel the same amount of "extremely unpleasant" feelings together. Both of us gain in terms of adaptation to capacity for work and pain tolerance.

I'm not sure what you're envisioning in your head as "extremely unpleasant" pain, but the saying goes that you don't have to train AT your max to UP your max. Exercise done at relatively comfortable levels of pain will still produce positive adaptations. That's why Couch->5K is so successful, it basically starts people off walking instead of running. But again, I don't care if you dance, run, row, lift, bike, hike, walk, whatever... it sounds like you are staying active already, which is great.

Ah. You're assuming that the original poster's dislike of exercise is the same as your dislike of the pain of exercise. They're not necessarily the same.

As it happens, I dislike exercise as well, and it's not because it hurts. (As you point out, it doesn't have to hurt.) It's because it's unpleasant in a lot of ways, it's boring (no matter what exercise I try), and I don't get anything else out of it. I don't enjoy being out in nature, I don't get a feeling of accomplishment from moving around, I don't feel better afterwards. This is true for exercise at any intensity level. As it happens, my life is active enough to keep me fit without extra exercise, but if I had to dance/run/row/lift/bike/hike/walk/roller skate/rock climb/ski/anything in order to stay healthy, I'd dislike it. That's just how it is. Some people do not like physical exercise, period.

This couldn't be more true. I do crossfit 4 times a week. I hate every single second of it. But the second it's over, I am flooded with euphoria and happiness for having accomplished the day's workout.

I wonder what magic_beans ("your body WANTS to move around", three posts up) thinks of this response.

I don't agree with "If done at a proper relative intensity, everyone finds exercise extremely unpleasant in the moment.". It may be physically uncomfortable but you can get pleasure from taking control over yourself. It's hard for me to explain, but some unpleasant thing can bring pleasure. Alos, if it is extremely unpleasant I'd doubt it is done at the proper level.

I totally agree :)

I exercise nearly every damn day, and I find it UNPLEASANT. Of course it's unpleasant! My brain screams at me to just sit down and sleep.

But exercise, if anything, is a mental challenge. The brain screams at you to stop, but your body, deep down, wants and needs to move. So I make myself do it, and OP makes themselves do it.

I'm shocked that OOP doesn't seem to get any exercise-euphoria. That high is absolutely worth it.

But your previous comment was:

> Your body WANTS to move around. There has to be some sport or physical activity you enjoy!

> "vaguely feeling a bit better in three months, maybe living an extra year or two when everything is falling apart anyway" as sufficient.

Once you are middle-aged (and even before for many people) it is much more than "vaguely feeling a bit better". Without reasonable muscle-tone and fitness your joints will ache every single day and you will begin losing mobility and getting injured more easily.

I hate exercising. I do it because it is too costly not to.


The difference between 39 and 46 at the same apparent level of non-fitness is shocking. Stuff hurts that never did before.

Getting and staying in shape is key after 40.

Land Quidditch sounds awfully close to something something my mom would have made up, when trying to market something healthy but inherently boring to us as kids. Don't play with my heart like this. The disappointment is too real.

Many colleges in the US have (land) Quidditch teams. I've heard they sometimes have horrific injuries because the people on the team are not conventionally athletic.

>I'm supposed to feel guilty about that admission, but I do not.

It's not the admission that's problematic. It's that, until said magic bullet is found, this mindset leads a person nowhere health wise...

Maybe if there was a health reward of some kind every time you exercised then it would be different. But there's nothing. I just can't stick with doing something for weeks and weeks and weeks before I realize that I'm losing a small amount of weight, or able to perform a bit better than when I started.

>I just can't stick with doing something for weeks and weeks and weeks before I realize that I'm losing a small amount of weight, or able to perform a bit better than when I started.

Hard or not, that's a bad attitude in life in general. Instant gratification seldom got people places...

I can think of very few other things with such poor reward systems. When I start washing dishes, I start seeing clean dishes immediately. Even if I have hundreds of dishes to wash, I can feel good about that first clean dish.

>I can think of very few other things with such poor reward systems.

Anything important has a "poor reward system". General education for one. Better eating. Advancing at a career. Playing a musical instrument.

It's called strava for running or cycling... It will show your progres on the same routes or over common segments... You don't even have to share that info with other people if you don't want to

It's an interesting idea.

Personally, I wonder how much of the benefit comes from facing and overcoming that unpleasantness. I feel that must be a part of how exercise engages your mind as well as your body.

I think considering exercise to be unpleasant is similar to considering math "too hard". It's a matter of attitude and perspective. You are probably right that there are benefits from overcoming that perspective but it's unfortunate that we continue to perpetuate the perception that these positive experiences are somehow negatives in the moment. We should really improve our internal marketing campaigns.

I too desire this, I feel guilty about it, but less so after this comment. Thank you.

it's called cosmetic surgery

That will only give you the appearance of fitness, not the effect of it. You'll still be huffing and puffing as you climb the flights of stairs to the office the day the elevator breaks, though being lighter through liposuction will help reduce the difficulty of the task.

What's the going rate on an intelligence implant these days? Having cosmetic surgery to overcome a lack of exercise is like moving your fuel gauge to "Full" so you ever have to buy gas.

> Some people don't get any pleasure by exercising

Couldn't this be a result of not exercising? It doesn't seem to be a coincidence that people who've made exercise a habit generally seem to enjoy it more.

It's rather obvious that people who find it more enjoyable will have an easier time making a habit of it.

The only way I've found to keep myself in shape is to find activities I enjoy. For me it's dancing and rock climbing. But I had to try a bunch of things to discover that. I never imagined I would like dancing before I tried it.

Also, not everyone responds equally to exercise. Some people improve much faster than others. Some people see no progress at all unless they exercise at high intensity. Understandably it's harder to get motivated if you see little progress. I'm lucky in that, while I'm not athlete material, it's not super hard for me to gain muscle and improve my cardio.

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/fitne...

I've had that result with some activities. No amount of distance running, it seems, will ever make it feel like something enjoyable and healthy rather than something incredibly boring that makes me feel like I'm less healthy afterward. Meanwhile, weightlifting and sports—even those with lots of running!—are fun and make me feel alive, but I could definitely see someone not feeling that way about any exercise.

I find running pairs well with music -- I'm into electronic dance music, and running allows me to simulate how the music would feel at a nightclub: you're physically engaged, sweating, does the music push you forward or pull you back? What are the cycles of tension and energy and are they effective? I also find myself more able to really dig in and listen while running: I've found myself gaining a much deeper understanding of albums after I've run with them.

I would find running without music to be frustrating and boring. Although, after about 15-20 minutes, I just drift off into thought-land and kinda forget that I'm running, so maybe it'd be doable. I guess that's runner's high/endocannabinoids for ya.

I find weightlifting less fun but it's SO healthy (and quick) that I push through and do it anyway.

But what if I dislike nightclubs?

Between you and me, I also dislike nightclubs, hate the environment/social setting, but I like some of the music (unfortunately not the stuff they play at most nightclubs around here either) and I like the idea of music as a source of energy/physical motion.

Honestly I think it's that it just starts to suck less with each time you do it. I've run the gamut in my life from overweight couch potato that didn't exercise for years, to fanatically going to the gym 3 hours a day, five days a week. Running an 8-9 minute mile when I was in my worst shape would have been orders of magnitude harder for me, mentally, to complete - than probably a half marathon or something when I was in good shape. That doesn't mean I've _ever_ liked going to the gym and working out. It did mean that at times when I was in such good shape I didn't mind it that much.

I've faithfully gone to the gym 5 times a week every week for a year and a half. I still despise exercise - but I like the results enough to keep going.

My inspiration is simple [0]. Ultimately, I'm in control of how I look and feel. Exercise sucks - but it's the best way to keep myself looking how I want to look. That's the only motivation I need to suffer through it.

[0] http://i.imgur.com/B63LzdF.jpg

Maybe it's not exercise you hate, but the gym. I tried the gym once and dropped it because I hated it. A few years later I found running and loved it; then I found cycling and loved it even more.

Exercise is tiring enough as it is (that's the point). You should at least find something you enjoy, otherwise it's even more likely that you won't do it.

I tried everything - lifting weights is the only thing that 'stuck'. I'd love to swim, but the only pool is at the gym and it's heavily chlorinated and I have to shower before and after swimming which is now outside of "convenient to exercise".

The gym is a few minutes up the road, I'd jog but it's on an incline - terrible for the knees.

Scan in, get changed, throw some weight around, wipe off the sweat (not enough time for a full shower), leave. It's convenient enough and something I've managed to stick with long-term.

I agree.. I have had a greenway near me for 5 years before I started using it... If you can do something without even having to commute to it, it can be even easier to start a habit

Of course it's not a coincidence; people who enjoy exercise generally make a habit of it.

Sometimes I enjoy exercising, sometimes I do not.

I always enjoy having exercised.

I always figured that it's diversity of stimulus/experience/etc that is the biggest factor. The operating envelope of our bodies (and minds) presumes season changes, pretty much constant walking, and (typically) a very different social environment. Putting how we modify all this with various drugs aside, our environment in modern times is very different from the one our bodies expect. Some of this seems better understood, like how the insane abundance of sugar is something our bodies cannot cope with. Another interesting one is the entire discipline of orthodontics; turns out our teeth would come in completely straight if it weren't for all our soft processed food not giving them the input they need to orient themselves correctly in our jaws. I suspect exposure to cold and heat is simply another thing we've lost.

> Another interesting one is the entire discipline of orthodontics; turns out our teeth would come in completely straight if it weren't for all our soft processed food not giving them the input they need to orient themselves correctly in our jaws.

Do you have a source for this? Sounds interesting.

Considering plenty of mummies had horrible teeth, I doubt it.

The Egyptians didn't each much better than us - lots of breads.

I would assume OP means by "feedback" the constant ripping and tearing of meat and incessant chewing of highly fibrous plants and vegetables.

I do but also when I describe the environment in which we evolved I'm not talking about the last 10,000 years really, so not including mega civilizations like the Egyptians. I'm talking about the other 99% of our existence where you largely took food out of the ground and occasionally directly hunted wild animals. The idea is that your jaw/teeth expect chewing this kind of food and use that information to determine how your teeth should be correctly placed in your jaw as it is still growing. I don't have any specific references handy but I first read about the teeth thing in the excellent book: The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease

Which doesn't mean highly processed foods, just not living like hunter gatherers.

Well, I haven't seen a source for the claim that teeth were better when we weren't eating soft food, but the Egyptians definitely ate soft food, so I would assume that the hypothesis doesn't apply to them.

Egyptians that could afford mummification were probably wealthy enough to eat foods like honey and other exotic sweet treats on a frequent basis.

Dr. Mike Mew discusses it often: https://youtu.be/bvQwrGbqYKg

How many years until we get the headline, "A hot bath doesn't have benefits similar to exercise"? I predict five.

You basically summarized today's new episode of EconTalk, on the perils of statistical significance: http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2017/03/andrew_gelman_o.htm...

The thought certainly isn't original to me! I think that Slate Star Codex and The Last Psychiatrist both had pieces on the reproduction crisis, especially in psychiatry, and I'll check this episode out as well.

Wow crazy. The article ends by speculating that activities that activate “heat shock protein” pathway may help blood sugar control. It’s interesting b/c this pathway is well-studied in microbes like e coli and we were taught about it in my genomics classes. But I didn’t realize it was conserved to the point that it is significant in humans (maybe it isn’t).

It’s a bit of a misnomer, actually. It was identified in e. coli as molecularly central to their response when exposed to immediate stress, such as going from 32 C to 40 C, but also on exposure to UV, or cold?, pH change, salinity change etc

Basically it’s bacterial-molecular version of calling 911. But because it was first identified by heat shock experimental condition, that’s what it was named.

Did the author just read about "heat shock protein" in humans and assume it was related how gene expression changes in human cells when body temperature is elevated 1 degree C? Or was it mentioned in the primary literature they are summarizing...

I always wonder about the effects of pervasive air conditioning. Living in cool environments all through the summer certainly isn't natural, right? Maybe the energy required to regulate body temperature in warm environments is actually a good thing, and air conditioning prevents us from getting the benefit.

Depends on what part of the world you're living in.

Where I live (North central Idaho, at an elevation of 2,500 feet), new houses were being built without air conditioning 10 years ago, because it typically didn't get hot enough in the summer to justify it. Our summers are getting hotter, so that's changing, but here that change has occurred in the past 10 years.

Many people still live without A/C on much of West Coast (Oregon, Washington and BC), so long as they live in a temperate climate near the water there's rarely a need.

So, living in a house where the temperature is A/C controlled at 75°F in the summertime, isn't going to be too different than living in a climate where summertime temps don't often get above 75°F.

Some people also tout the benefits of mild hypothermia. I suppose any type of thermal regulation is a workout for the body.

On the other hand, heat stroke kills a lot of people every year, and suffering through ever changing weather takes a toll on productivity.

There are a lot of things that may be bad for us as individuals but necessary to our society.

Take ancestral environment into account. Asia and Africa have torrid summers, but Europe -- at least Western Europe -- mostly doesn't; this is especially true of the British Isles, a temperate-rainforest zone comparable to the West Coast or parts of inner Appalachia. For US residents with mostly British (including Irish) ancestry, air conditioning is a return to ancestral environments, not a departure from them.

I see a number of these articles from time to time about the health effects of (warm|cold) water treatment.

Seems to me not to be a replacement for exercise, a healthy diet, and good sleep. Maybe as a supplement. Or maybe for someone who is injured or old or has limited opportunity.

Unfortunately good scientific work along these lines very often lead to headlines that lead people to think: wow this is like a shake-weight but there's a science paper proving it.

There's no replacement for hard work.

>There's no replacement for hard work.

Not yet for physical health. But that saying kind of annoys me in a general sense given that the majority of technological advancement has specifically been to replace hard work we don't want to do. So there's good reason to believe a technological solution for physical health that doesn't require hard work will exist some time in the future.

And yet, everything seems to point to modern living not exactly being good for you. Not going outside gives Vitamin D deficiencies. Not sleeping properly means our brain is less sharp. Being constantly connected online means that I'm unable to do proper deep work. Being constantly able to see the "superb" lives lived by others means more self esteem issues.

It seems those among us (Mr. Money Mustache comes to mind) willing to live life the old-fashioned way: biking to work, mowing lawns manually, avoiding social media and eating home-cooked food are doing better than those of us early-adopting every technical solution under the sun.

Does not follow.

Just because we want something is not a good reason to think that it's possible.

As I understand it, the health benefits of hard work are currently believed to be an integral part of that hard work. And, they're at least somewhat localized to whatever systems are doing the work.

Or from another perspective, weight machines and indoor air-conditioned treadmills are your technological solution.

They're the current technological solution, but they're essentially proxies to condense a naturally occurring process into a more efficient process; weight machines and treadmills provide an efficient method to work out whatever systems your exercise regime is designed to affect. But what you're after is the resulting byproduct of that exercise, not that exercise itself.

Similar to how biking uses the same inputs as walking, but makes it more efficient. So if your goal is to get somewhere as efficiently as possible rather than walking in and of itself being the goal, you're going to bike instead. Then comes along the car and you're no longer constrained to the natural capabilities of your body in order to travel, and it's a whole new ballgame.

Exercise has a lot of health benefits because it causes things in the body. From stretching things to tearing muscle fiber to causing your body to generate and release different hormones and steroids (and many, many other effects).

The technological solution the OP wants is something which simulates the effects of exercise on the body but without the exercise itself. Such as nanomachines that can be designed to stress test different components of the body and keep them active or that cause the same types of micro-tears in muscular tissue that weight lifting does. As we learn more about the body, and we make smaller and smaller machines that are capable of operating from within the body, we can leverage those machines and that knowledge to directly maintain an ideal state of fitness regardless of externalities such as an individuals predilection or capacity for the level of working out needed to maintain that ideal state.

Further reading on hydrotherapy. A good primer if you have any of the adverse conditions listed.


So are 40 degree Celcius hot tubs as effective as 80 degree Celcius Sauna sessions. I was just about to buy a portable sauna, but if a bath gives me a similar effect I wouldn't buy it. Except that I can watch TV while I'm sitting in my portable sauna chair and my S.O. lounges on the couch.

I mean, buy one if you want one. I wouldn't buy it for this reason. It might be sort of good for you, but so are lots of things as research constantly reveals. A 30 minute run everyday will do way more for your health if you're not exercising.

I bet that hot baths move lymph at higher than normal rates, just like exercise. This is the mechanism by which our bodies cleanse our tissues.

But, that is considered "woo" by a lot of people. I am sort of annoyed at the heat molecules explanation at the end of the article. Like, we can't just admit that maybe our own body's mechanism for taking out the trash matters when it gets pumped up to a higher rate? That is too...weird? or something?

n = 7 per group, no control, main effect p ~ 0.05. Nothing to see here unfortunately.

Yeah, I'm not sure why this is being discussed so seriously. There really wasn't a control group?

Funny, because the comments on here a few months ago implied a cold water shower does miracles for you too and practically bashed hot water cleaning to oblivion.

What I like to do is have a hot bath and then 30 minutes in take a freezing cold shower for about 10 minutes then get back in the bath for 30 minutes, followed by another freezing cold 10 minute shower.

If you think you can't do a freezing cold shower, you'd be surprised. Start off luke warm and just keep lowering it little by little. Before long you'll have the water all the way on cold.

Once it's cold I try to do 2-3 minutes on front, back, left and right.

This will get the endorphins flowing and is good for weight loss. I've also read that it will release something in your body that tells it that it needs to start burning fat reserves, which makes sense given our history.

I guess I’m not the bathing type, 1 h 20 min seems excessive too me. I rather spend this time in the gym exercising and raking in all the additional benefits compared to bathing.

Does anyone know where the Shutterstock picture has been taken? I haven't seen a swimming pool with chess games in it. I once thought about playing with hive pieces on the bottom of the pool. It'd be nice to read a book in bath or in the water, but water and books don't really get along.

It's Széchényi Spa[1] in Hungary.

[1] http://szechenyispabaths.com

Budapest! I only know this because of a tweet I saw today [1].

[1] https://twitter.com/WeeMissBea/status/843888937659744257

"Szechenyi Baths (Budapest, Hungary), traditional Hungarian thermal bath complex with spa treatments." -- https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/budapest-hungary-no...

I've been there, it's great (and in a very nice building).

> It'd be nice to read a book in bath or in the water, but water and books don't really get along.

An ebook reader in one of those waterproof device bags might work. You'd need one with a resistive screen or all hard buttons, though.

Looks like the Hungarian baths!

There are similar studies showing that regular saunas lower cardiovascular risk and dementia risk up to 63% (a summary here http://outcomereference.com/causes/108 )

Like the hot bath study, these were limited to very specific populations (Finnish). I have yet to see studies of hot bath or saunas on different ethnicities or different locations.

At the end of the day though, nothing beats regular moderate exercise. It's the only lifestyle that has no side-effects, cheap, accessible to everyone anywhere, and with demonstrated short-term and long-term effects. Walk, run 5k, hike, bike to work, your heart and your family will be grateful!

Were they measuring outdoor cycling or indoor (exercise bike)?

I think there's a huge qualitative difference between the two - breathing the outside air (and absorbing the sun if I'm lucky) probably do much more to improve my health and outlook than the simple calories burned.

I don't think it matters for this study. They only measured calories burned and inflammatory response, which, assuming the same amount of energy expended, I'd expect to be identical cycling on a trainer or outdoors.

Best news ever! Now I can finally justify my exuberant daily morning bath ritual to my friends and family with more than just "I like it so stfu".

On a serious note though, I've always known how good I feel after a nice 30-60 minute soak so I'm not entirely surprised. But I'll be sure to keep the water temp up from here on out though. I've grown accustomed to a "nice and warm but not excessively hot" setting. Come to think of it, 40 C (104 F) might be where I'm at already--that doesn't sound like a crazy high number. Perhaps it's time to take things to the next level and install a bath thermometer along with measuring my body temp pre and post bath.

J Physiol. 2016 Sep 15;594(18):5329-42. doi: 10.1113/JP272453. Epub 2016 Jun 30. Passive heat therapy improves endothelial function, arterial stiffness and blood pressure in sedentary humans. Brunt VE1, Howard MJ1, Francisco MA1, Ely BR1, Minson CT2.

A recent 30 year prospective study showed that lifelong sauna use reduces cardiovascular-related and all-cause mortality; however, the specific cardiovascular adaptations that cause this chronic protection are currently unknown.


Such articles are so frustrating. What is with our fixation to trying to do as little as possible for max. gains. It feels like there is this whole group of individuals out there who are trying to convince (without solid evidence) that exercise is replaceable my other things.Human beings are not efficiency optimization machines. Moreover, everyone who exercises regularly can tell you that fitness is the low hanging fruit. There are so many other benefits of exercise like opportunity to meet new people & benefits to mental health and more.

Hope you are heating your water with renewables.

A coal powerplant would produce ~ 8-10 pounds of CO2 to heat a bath, 3.5x more than a shower.

https://www.withouthotair.com/c7/page_50.shtml https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=74&t=11

"Water immersion resulted in a greater increase in body temperature compared with exercise, as well as a greater reduction in average arterial blood pressure."

Was that reduction in blood pressure seen after the bath or only while in it?

If after, how long after?

I wouldn't be at all surprised if there was lower blood pressure while lying still in a bath compared to while performing vigorous exercise. But what about after?

We've known for a long time that temperature will change calories burned at rest, and a reduction in peak blood pressure is not the same as a reduction in overall blood sugar. These same temporary effects can be gained merely by slight changes in diet, and don't provide the other positive effects that light exercise brings.

The comparison to exercise is quite misleading.

This is just a simply "I heard that ...", so take it with a grain of salt. I heard that heat (such as sauna) can help you lose weight, but it also loses muscle, so it's not a great method of diet.

There's also one significant downside: hot bath lower testosterone levels in men, hurting fertility, so please don't do it if you are trying to make your partner pregnant.

There's certainly some evidence that hot baths reduce sperm counts[1] but nothing I see about testosterone levels. At the same time, it's clear that men in cultures with traditions of soaking or saunas do still seem to father children...

1: https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2007/03/5541/hot-tubs-hurt-fertili...

Damn. My muscles have been feeling more fatigued lately and I was planning to start going to a hot tub on a semi-regular basis :/.

I don't think that you need data from a well respected journal to validate that point.

I wonder how cold a bath has to be to get the same calorie burn as for 40C water.

Warm bath would be better than hot bath.

hasn't this sort of practice been a common thing in Japan for centuries?

Yes, but a common practice doesn't mean that whether or how it's beneficial has been studied.

My feeling is that diabetes is, at least in part, caused by poor circulation. The peripheral neuropathy commonly associated with diabetes may actually be caused by poor circulation as well, not by diabetes.

If blood flow to your limbs is impaired, your limbs can't process insulin very well.

Given this view, anything that promotes circulation is going to help diabetes.

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