Take a hot bath
Advice so simple even a senior executive could follow it. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
I used to work in an office where one of the perks was a free gym membership. I had a good relationship with my boss at the time, and I used to joke that while I took full advantage, he mostly followed the “senior executive gym routine.” It went like this.
Block out 90 minutes on your schedule.
Ostentatiously announce to everyone that you’re off to the gym.
Don’t actually work out; instead, spend all your time in either the sauna, the steam room, or the whirlpool.
Now, however, there’s some scientific research that suggests the “senior executive gym routine” might actually have worked, due to the almost-too-good-to-be-true concept of "passive heating for human health."
Writing in The Conversation, Dr. Steve Faulkner of Longborough University in the United Kingdom recounted an experiment in which he and his colleagues recruited 14 men, and assigned them either to (a) work out for an hour each day (cycling), or in the alternative, (b) simply to take an hour-long soak in a hot bath (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
While many cultures around the world have extolled the benefits of taking hot baths and saunas, Faulkner writes, it's only in the last few years that scientists have explored whether there is a physiological reason. And, Faulkner's study, he reports, they found that:
"Cycling resulted in more calories being burned compared with a hot bath, but bathing resulted in about as many calories being burned as a half-hour walk (around 140 calories).
The overall blood sugar response to both conditions was similar, but peak blood sugar after eating was about 10% lower when participants took a hot bath compared with when they exercised."
Separately, in 2015 a Finnish study found that "frequent saunas can reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke - at least in men," Faulkner writes, and another study at the University of Oregon found that "regular hot baths can lower blood pressure."
Beyond simply burning calories, there also appear to be other health benefits, including better control of blood sugar.
The science behind these findings has to do with something called heat shock proteins: "molecules that are made by all cells of the human body in response to stresses."
Regardless of whether you're working out or simply taking a hot bath, Faulkner explains, the body seems to create more of these kinds of molecules, which "may help the function of insulin and improve blood sugar control."
Now, there’s only one problem with this whole idea. Well, maybe more than one, but one that might stop me from adding hot baths to my routine.
As Ph.D. candidate Charles James Steward put it in a separate review of studies on the benefits of hot bathing:
Before you hop in the tub and try to recreate this, I want to point out that the water temperatures and lengths of time mentioned above are not representative of your everyday bath. In your conventional bath tub, the temperature will gradually drop.
Accordingly, when using my hot tub in the lab, I must carefully monitor my volunteers for safety reasons: I measure their core body temperature (using a rectal thermometer), blood pressure and constantly check in with how comfortable they are with the heat of the water.
Anyone who has sat in a hot tub or sauna for a bit too long probably already knows why I do this. On standing, heat exposure can lead to dizziness, a loss of balance and increase the risk of fainting.
The boss I worked for back in the day is lucky I hadn’t read Steward’s description way back then, or else the “senior executive gym routine” jokes would have reached another level.
However, Steward does add this additional caveat to his previous caveat:
[H]ealth benefits don't solely depend on maintaining high core body temperatures. So your run-of-the-mill hot bath might still do the trick. … This is thought to be linked to an increase in blood flow to your skin, which is not reliant on attaining a high core temperature.
Anyway, bosses or not, nobody is suggesting that people abandon diets and quit working out, and instead simply sit in the tub. However, 25 percent of adults don’t meet even the minimum recommended physical activity levels, according to the World Health Organization.
So, further research into passive heating could result in real benefits and an "alternative to exercise" for people who don't have any other option, or who need help changing habits to incorporate exercise and health changes into their lives—as Steward puts it, a "‘gateway therapy’ to future exercise participation.”
Besides, I’m not sure that an hour in a steaming 104-degree tub would be all that much less taxing than an hour-long workout. If I run into my old boss again, I’ll ask.
7 other things worth knowing today
Elon Musk could supposedly … definitely … maybe … we think (probably) … own Twitter as of this Friday (October 28 deadline), amid rumors of plans to cut 75 percent of staff a cratering business. Convincing take: "The company's dramatic deal with [Musk] has overshadowed its business challenges. But when you peel back the curtain, it's clear that Musk could not have picked a worse time to overpay for Twitter." Separate but sort of related: How a ghostwriter made $200,000 last year writing tweets for venture capitalists. (Axios, Entrepreneur)
Stuck doing all the household chores? This practical guide to splitting work among adults can help. (NPR)
This is behind a paywall, but I write a lot about airlines and I found what United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby had to say about low cost rivals during a recent earnings call interesting. In short, he called out competitors that add things like big baggage fees to their originally low prices as "a Ponzi scheme" that depends on unsustainable growth because there simply aren't enough pilots to fly enough planes to make the growth possible. (Bizjournals)
"I proudly wake up at 8:59 a.m., one minute before starting my remote work job. There are thousands like me, and we don’t care what you think." (Fortune)
A tech CEO fired two engineers for having second full-time jobs, and warns they're part of a new trend: “overemployment.” Software company Canopy said it recently discovered that two of its workers were also employed elsewhere. (ZDNet)
Fairly specific, but if you're thinking of buying one of the new versions of the iPad that just came out, my Inc.com colleague Jason Aten spent a few days testing and reviewing them. (Inc.com)
I've never been on a cruise and have no plans to go on one, but I still found this interesting: Royal Caribbean just unveiled what will be the new world's largest cruise ship, setting sail in 2024 with 8 'neighborhoods,' a giant water park, and 7 pools. (Business Insider)
Thanks for reading. Photo credit: Pixabay. I wrote about some of this before at Inc.com. See you in the comments.