Doctors could prescribe a daily bath to help people reduce their risk of dying from heart disease and stroke, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that a bath a day can lower a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) – such as heart disease, heart attacks or strokes.
More than 30,000 people took part in a study which examined their bathing habits.
Japanese participants aged 40 to 59 with no history of cancer or cardiovascular disease were recruited for the study and researchers then tracked them between 1990 and 2009.
They recorded just over 2,000 cardiovascular “incidents” such as stroke or heart attack. Compared with a once or twice weekly bath or no bath at all, a daily hot bath was associated with a 28 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and a 26 per cent lower risk of stroke.
Frequent bathing was also linked to a lower risk of high blood pressure, according to the study, published in the journal Heart.
“We found that habitual tub bathing was associated with a lower risk of CVD among middle-aged Japanese, suggesting a beneficial effect on the prevention of CVD,” the authors wrote.
“Clinicians could recommend tub bathing to prevent CVD.” They noted that previous studies have linked heat exposure with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, potentially due to heat exposure increasing body temperature, heart contractions, heart rate and blood flow.
“These effects are similar to the impact of exercise and are believed to improve vascular function over the long term,” they added.
But they cautioned that if baths are too hot they can cause heat stroke.