7 Health Benefits of Soaking in a Hot Tub

relieveaches21.jpg

There are some benefits of using the hot tub that we’re all aware of: it’s relaxing, it feels great after skiing, and on somewhat less frequent occasions, it transports us back to the 80’s so that hilarity may ensue.

What you may not know is that soaking in the hot tub can have several other positive effects on our bodies and overall health. Below are just some of the benefits of soaking in the hot tubthat you might not be aware of.

1. Improves sleep

Have you ever noticed how quickly you tend to fall asleep after taking a late night bath or a dip in the hot tub?

When your body is cold, your normal sleeping pattern can be disturbed. When your body is comfortably warm, you tend to fall asleep quicker and rest through the night with fewer disruptions.

It is widely accepted that getting quality, REM sleep has a multitude of positive effects on just about everything – from your mood to your mental alertness and even the way your body metabolizes food.

To improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep, try spending some time in the hot tub before getting into bed.

2. Reduces stress and anxiety

Along with making you feel temporarily relaxed, studies show that the combination of the hot water, the massage of the jets, and the feeling of weightlessness can significantly reduce both mental and physical stress and decrease anxiety.

Experts note that when you’re not feeling physically and mentally stressed, you’re less likely scowl at neighborhood teenagers, which means you’re less likely to get teepee’d in the middle of the night.

Don’t get teepee’d – get in the hot tub!

3. Reduces arthritic and chronic pain

For people suffering from skeletal ailments such as arthritis, carpal tunnel, tendonitis, and other types of bodily aches and pains, spending time in the hot tub will typically provide some much-needed relief.

Due to the buoyancy from the bubbles created by the tub’s jets, we feel our own weight disappear, our blood circulation increases with the heat, the tightness in our muscles relaxes, and inflammation in our sensitive joints is reduced.

In this state, an aching body can experience heightened flexibility, strength, and a wider range of physical motion. It’s no wonder so many people see significant benefits from hydrotherapy when recovering from back, knee, or other joint problems.

4. Lowers blood sugar

While further studies are still recommended, initial research indicates that spending time in the hot tub may actually lower the blood sugar level of people suffering from type 2 diabetes.

In one study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, subjects with type 2 diabetes spent a half hour, six days per week for three weeks submerged to the shoulder in a hot tub. By the end of the three weeks, the subjects saw an average drop in blood glucose (BG) levels from 182 mg/dl to 159 mg/dl.

Essentially, the hot temperatures in the tub simulate some of the effects of physical exercise – which has proven to be an effective form of treatment for sufferers of type 2 diabetes.

5. Lowers blood pressure

In addition to lowering levels of your blood sugar, relaxing in the hot tub can also lower your blood pressure.

When you get in the tub and the temperature is hot, your heart works harder and faster so that your body can disperse excess heat. In the process, your increased blood flow is producing extra oxygen and your cells are being revitalized. While there may be an initial uptick in blood pressure, your increased warmth will cause cells to dilate, decreasing resistance against the heart and lowering your overall blood pressure.

It should be noted that those with high blood pressure should avoid going back and forth between the hot tub and the pool, as this may increase blood pressure.

6. Promotes Healthier, Younger Looking Skin

If you’re pondering ways to get your skin looking its best, soaking in the hot tub might not be the first strategy that comes to mind – unless it’s a hot tub filled with Neutrogena.

[NOTE: Do not soak in hot tubs filled with Neutrogena]

What you may not have considered is that some of the effects of using the hot tub have a direct influence on the health and appearance of your skin.

As mentioned above, regular use of a hot tub has shown to lower levels of stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety are leading causes of premature aging, which means the hot tub can be a tool to help combat premature aging.

Furthermore, when you’re experiencing increased circulation in the hot tub, that means your blood is more efficiently delivering vital oxygen and nutrients to your skin – giving you a healthy, youthful glow.

7. Decreases Frequency of Migraines and Tension Headaches

When you suffer from chronic headaches, like migraines, there simply aren’t a ton of treatment options, so relief is a hard thing to come by. Fortunately, there is some evidence to suggest that regular dips in the hot tub may in fact help to prevent certain types of headaches.

How can sitting in a hot tub possibly help with headaches? Well, consider some of the more common triggers of headache, like tension.

Migraine sufferers often report experience tension headaches right before the migraine. In the hot tub, you’re muscles aren’t contracted, your aches and pains subside, and you feel overall more relaxed – thus decreasing the chance of experience a tension-triggered migraine.

Also, sufferers of sinus and cluster headaches experience episodes when they’re stuffed up; spending time in the steamy hot tub – along with using nose drops and drinking fluids – is a good way to fight congestion and prevent these types of headaches.

Why Do We Tan?

147912924.jpg

Sit out in the sun too long and ultraviolet radiation from sunlight penetrates your skin and cells, damaging their RNA and DNA. This is bad news, as DNA provides our bodies with all the genetic instructions they need to develop, survive and go about their business, and this kind of DNA damage can lead to skin cancer. To protect you from this, your body helpfully tans, darkening the the skin with a pigment called melanin that reduces UV penetration into cells.

UV radiation stimulates the darkening of existing melanin and spurs increased melanogenesis, the production of new melanin. Cells called melanocytes generate the pigment and push it out of the cell, where it darkens the skin and absorbs and transforms absorbed UV energy into heat.

Melanogenesis results in a delayed tan that only becomes visible several hours after UV exposure and lasts longer than the tanning caused by darkening of existing melanin. Over time, a tan fades as darkened skin layers are pushed upward by new cells with less melanin, and are eventually scaled off.

Why do we get sunburn?

While we might say someone with sunburn was out “baking” too long or got “fried,” sunburns are different from the burn one might get from, say, touching a hot stove. That’s a thermal burn caused by the heat of the stove. While the sun does give off heat, a sunburn is caused by ultraviolet-B radiation.

When someone’s exposure to UV radiation exceeds their body’s ability to protect the skin with tanning, the radiation  causes damage to DNA, like we talked about above. This prompts the body to try and fix things. Bloodflow to the capillary bed of the dermis (the second outermost layer of skin) increases so cells can repair the damage, which results in warmth and redness of the skin. Inflammatory immune cells also flock to the damaged tissue, causing us to perceive pain and, hopefully, consider staying out of the sun for a while. Eventually, the damaged skin cells die, and the burned skin starts to peel.

How Does Sunscreen Work?

sunscreen1.jpg

Whether you’re lounging on the beach, jetting down a ski slope or hiking up a mountain, when you’re outside, you’re pummeled by invisible rays that can cause your skin to darken and burn. This ultraviolet (UV) radiation can also damage DNA in your skin cells, causing genetic mutations that can lead to skin cancer. Fortunately, you can protect against many of the damaging effects of these rays with sunscreen.

Sunscreens, which can be sprays, lotions, gels or waxes, are usually made up of a mix of chemicals. Inorganic chemicals in sunscreen can reflect or scatter the light away from the skin, and organic (carbon-based) ones can absorb UV rays so that our skin doesn’t.

Some inorganic chemicals, including minerals such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, act as a physical sunblock. They reflect UV rays, similar to how white paint reflects light. The white-colored noses on beach-goers in the 1980s and 1990s were due to these compounds; because manufacturers make the inorganic particles much smaller now, we don’t see the visible white.

Along with inorganic chemicals, sunscreens often contain organic chemicals, with names such as avobenzone or oxybenzone. Instead of physically deflecting UV light, these molecules absorb UV radiation through their chemical bonds. As the bonds absorb UV radiation, the components of the sunscreen slowly break down and release heat.

The lowdown on SPF

The SPF on sunscreen bottles stands for Sun Protection Factor, and refers to how well the sunscreen protects against one type of UV radiation, called UVB (it may be helpful to think B for burning). UVB rays cause sunburn and several types of skin cancer.

Another type of radiation, called UVA radiation, penetrates deeper into the skin and can cause premature wrinkling, age spots and can also heighten the risk for some skin cancers . Sunscreen lotions labeled broad-spectrum block against both UVA and UVB, but currently there is no standard for listing UVA blocking power. Inorganic chemicals that deflect sunlight will deflect both UVA and UVB rays.

Most organizations recommend using sunscreen with an SPF between 15 and 50 (SPF ratings higher than 50 have not been proven to be more effective than SPF 50). A sunscreen with an SPF of 15 protects against about 93 percent of UVB rays, and one with an SPF of 30 protects against 97 percent of rays, according to the Mayo Clinic. No SPF can block 100 percent of UV rays.

Because some UV radiation still gets through the sunscreen and into your skin, the SPF number refers to roughly how long it will take for a person’s skin to turn red. Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 will prevent your skin from getting red for approximately 15 times longer than usual (so if you start to burn in 10 minutes, sunscreen with SPF 15 will prevent burning for about 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours), according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

But because most people don’t use enough sunscreen and because sunscreen tends to rub or wash off, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends reapplying sunscreen within two hours regardless of its strength, and using at least an ounce (a shot glass-full) for maximum protection.

Some of the chemicals in sunscreen have recently come under fire for possibly being carcinogenic (cancer-causing) or otherwise harmful, according to a report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an advocacy group based in Washington D.C. Scientists found that oxybenzone absorbs into the skin and is present in urine long after sunscreen is applied, so some researchers have suggested not using sunscreens containing this chemical on children, according to the EWG report. And in a preliminary study last year, titanium dioxide was shown to cause genetic damage in mice.

In any case, because sunscreen is not an end-all solution, health organizations strongly recommend also using a hat and sunglasses, clothing and shade to protect your skin.

Draining your pool

Drained-Pool-Arizona.png

Why should I drain my pool?

With differences depending on your climate and how often you maintain your pool, pool industry experts recommend you replace your pool water every 5 to 7 years. As pool water is subject to harsh chemicals, a potentially harsh environment, and biological remains such as dead skin, oils, and hair, pool water can no longer be effectively treated after those 5-7 years.

 

Pool water that is too old or has been unmaintained can also damage the surface of your pool. Environmental conditions can often lead to hard water, which will eventually leave calcium and mineral deposits that can easily damage pool tiles and grout. Maintaining your pool water is preferable –and cheaper– to repairing damaged pool tiles and finishes.

 

When should I drain my pool?

As stated in the previous section, most in-ground pools should be completely drained and the water replaced every 5 to 7 years. Exactly how often will depend on your maintenance schedule, how frequently the pool is used, and what kind of environment your pool is in.

 

Pools should be drained during the mild seasons to prevent unnecessary sun, heat, or moisture damage to the pool surfaces and filtration systems.

In almost all cases, pools should not ever be drained for cleaning, as this can be done underwater.

 

Pools should not be drained after significant rain or storms as the water table will add extra pessure to the bottom of your pool.

 

How do I drain my pool?

First, speak to a professional to determine whether your pool needs to be drained. Most pool maintenance can be done with the pool at least partially full. If you have determined your pool needs to be drained, but are not one hundred percent comfortable draining and completing the repairs yourself, hire a professional pool maintenance contractor or company. A botched draining will cost significantly more to fix than hiring experts.

 

The first step in draining your pool is to gather the required tools. You’ll need a sump pump, a bucket, and a hose with spray nozzle.

 

You can rent a sump pump from home improvement and equipment stores, usually by the hour or day. The pump should come with the pump and hoses.

 

Make sure to open the hydrostatic valve at the bottom of your pool before starting to pump the water. This prevents the hydrostatic pressure from lifting the entirety of your pool out of the ground. Opening the valve might require pliers. If there is water pressure from the valve when you open it, close the valve and cease the draining process.

 

Begin pumping the pool. Refer to the instructions provided by your rental supplier.

As the water level drops, spray down the edges of your pool to keep the edges clean and prevent sediment lines.

 

Once the water is below the level the pump can drain, use your bucket to scoop out what remains.

 

You’ve now drained your pool and are able to perform your repairs. Be warned, you should not keep your pool drained for any significant period of time, as this will likely result in basin damage.

Benefits of having a saltwater pool

0c7f3760ed54fa8dfe49f728acd81b99.jpg

Advantages of Salt Water Pools

Here are some of the benefits of salt water systems that seem to be driving their popularity:

 

Gentle on Eyes and Skin. Chlorine levels are generally lower with a salt generator. People who are sensitive to chlorine often report fewer irritations when using these pools.

 

Safer Than Chlorine. In tablet or liquid form, chlorine can be dangerous to store and transport. Studies have shown that chlorinated water may also pose a long-term health risk, which may not apply to salt water systems to the same extent (on the other hand, they do still produce the same disinfection byproducts as traditional pools).

 

“Soft Water” Feel. If you have a water softener in your home, you know that the addition of salt makes water feel smooth and silky to the touch – like rain water. Most people prefer this to the sometimes-abrasive feel of chlorinated water.

 

Less Maintenance. Pool maintenance is more “hands-off” with a salt water system, as the salt cell simply produces chlorine as needed. That said, you still have to monitor chlorine levels periodically to make sure everything is working okay.

Disadvantages of having a salt water pool

salt_water_pool_corrosion_aluminum.jpg

Disadvantages of Salt Water Pools

Given many advantages, it would seem that salt water chlorination is the perfect solution to the many hassles of chlorine. Not so fast. Here are some qualities of salt water swimming pools that might make you think twice:

 

More Expensive. A salt water system requires a hefty initial investment, which may total $5000 or more. Of course, with the money you’re saving on chlorine, the system could pay for itself in a few short years. But, as we pointed out in our article devoted to the cost question, any potential savings are theoretical and dependent on a lot of factors. In other words, it’s quite possible that you’ll never recoup your money.

 

More Complex. If you have a sanitation problem with a typical swimming pool, the answer is often to add more chlorine (or some other chemical). With modern electronic salt water systems, any problems that crop up are more likely to require the help of an experienced technician.

 

Potentially Damaging to Pool Accessories. There are reports of salt water systems damaging fixtures, heaters, liners, underwater lighting, and even masonry work. However, some of this information may be outdated or apply only to older equipment. Also, as with any system, a lot depends on whether it is properly installed and maintained.