Research has shown that losing weight and keeping that weight off is challenging. Out of the 50 million Americans who start a diet each year, just one to five percent manages to keep lost weight off.
For overall health and wellness, and for effective weight loss, doctors emphasize the adoption of healthy habits like exercise, cutting alcohol intake and managing stress as much as food choices.
Did you know stress can cause weight gain? Your hot tub can help lower your stress level, and in turn, help you lose weight.
Hot tub use is a very effective stress management technique. Here, we discuss how warm water hydrotherapy in your hot tub helps to keep stress at a manageable level.
How stress makes us fat
The stress hormone cortisol
The hormone cortisol translates environmental signals into physical responses. Faced with a threat, this hormone helps body and mind to make the fight or flight decision. While this alarm system was incredibly beneficial to our ancestors, their stress was intermittent. Quick, stress-inducing incidents punctuated predictable routines among well-known family and friends.
Today’s career and family pressures, on the other hand, trigger stress almost constantly. High stress levels exacerbate other debilitating conditions, including obesity. The American Psychological Association’s on-going study on stress in America has revealed that stress is the new normal for most of us. Columbia University’s First World Happiness Report ranks the United States below 24 other countries in average life satisfaction.
Persistent, cortisol-triggering stress leads to weight gain for a number of reasons.
- Individuals have learned that fatty, salty foods are a shortcut to calming stress. Many of us self-medicate with unhealthy food choices.
- Cortisol can block the muscle-building hormone testosterone. Muscle burns calories more efficiently. Less muscle means fewer calories burned and more fat accrued.
- Cortisol signals the body to store fat, particularly deep abdominal fat. (Deep abdominal fat has greater blood flow and four times more cortisol receptors compared to other fat stores.)
Lower stress leads us to eat better, take the time to exercise and interact with friends more often. Use your hot tub as a tool to combat stress.
Let your spa lower your stress
Our owners rave about how well the spa helps them relax. One Hot Spring Grandee® owner explains, “every time I get in it, I get that ‘died and gone to heaven’ feeling, Ahhhh!!!” A HighLife Sovereign® owner says, “My husband and I look forward to our relaxing, quality time together in the spa about 5 nights a week! Hydrotherapy is a wonderful thing!”
These owners hit on the body’s physiological changes that come with immersion in warm water. The raised temperature dilates blood vessels, and blood flows more easily. The heat and additional buoyancy lets the heart beat with increased power and steadiness. Improved circulation delivers oxygen rich blood to more parts of the body. Soakers feel better overall.
But wait . . . there’s more! When the heart pumps blood more easily, breathing slows. Controlling breath, a central aspect of meditation and mindfulness, has a calming effect. Deep, regular breathing reduces cortisol secretion. Lower cortisol can lead to fewer cravings for fatty, salty and sweet foods.
Improve the quality of your sleep to lower stress
Millions of Americans struggle to sleep at least one night each week. The hot tub is a powerful sleep aid. People can get away from the white-light-emitting screens that interfere with the brain’s ability to kick into night mode.
Stress can keep any of us awake. Even worse, sleepless nights can lead us straight to the fridge.
Before-bed hot tub soaks elicit the relaxation response, calorie-free.
Time in an outdoor hot tub is relaxing
University of Utah cognitive behaviorist Dr. David Strayer believes that time in nature allows the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s command center, to dial down and rest, like an overused muscle. He found that as the brain enters a more relaxed state, production of cortisol decreases.
In a similar study, Japanese researchers sent 84 subjects to seven different forests. They dispatched the same number to city centers. The forest explorers experienced a 16 percent decrease in cortisol, a 2 percent drop in blood pressure, and a 4 percent drop in heart rate.
Our bodies can relax in natural surroundings.
The hot tub can transport you to a place under the stars, experiencing your natural surroundings. One hot tub user found that “It is a fabulous relaxing experience to be in the spa at night looking up at the stars as the snow comes down around us.” Another relates, “We can gaze down on the trees below or up at the stars and it’s always a heavenly experience.” The sights of trees and stars have profound physiological effects.
Did you know that just one in 10 American teens spends time outside every day? The endless responsibilities parents have keeps adults indoors as well.
The hot tub gets owners outside in full view of the majesty of nature. Who knows what you’ll see from your hot tub: shooting stars, a swooping owl. Even staring at backyard flowers for a few minutes can spark a sense of wonder that makes life rich.
Explore the stress and weight connection
For years, this nation has asked, “What’s behind America’s obesity epidemic?”
- Our high standard of living?
- The Western diet of red meat, refined grains and sugary drinks?
- A sedentary, screen-obsessed lifestyle?
- The explosion of unhealthy fast food and other restaurants? (Today, the average restaurant meal is four times larger than it was in the 1950’s, according to the Centers for Disease Control.)
It’s all of these, but many researchers now conclude that stress may be the primary underlying cause of obesity. Given the amount of stress we experience today, a hot tub could be the relaxing reward to the battles we engage in every day.
Learn more about our most popular collections of portable spas today to find the right one for your family.