Ancient societies, from the Romans to the Egyptians, have long regarded hydrotherapy as a beneficial means to treating and relieving ailments.
In modern day, hydrotherapy is often used in sports medicine and even physical therapy. While soaking in a hot tub commonly relaxes and relieves aches and pains, it may also benefit your Type 2 diabetes. A study at McKee Medical Center in Loveland, Colorado, which was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, suggests hot tubs may have positive effects on those who have Type 2 diabetes. In the study, eight diabetics soaked in a hot tub for 30 minutes, six days a week for three weeks. As a result, many of the diabetic participants noticed positive effects, such as weight loss, reduced blood sugar levels, and improved sleep.
Over the course of the study, the participants’ average blood glucose levels were reduced. In fact, one participant even lowered his daily insulin dosage by 18 percent. The participants also lost an average of 3.75 pounds. Though the results varied, these are valuable benefits for those who are living with Type 2 diabetes.
The participants in the study also noted they experienced improved sleep and a better sense of well-being. While these findings are not necessarily tangible, the researchers suggested the relaxation benefits of hydrotherapy could have caused these improvements. Because the participants were taking 30 minutes out of the day to unwind and relax, which they weren’t doing otherwise, this period of relaxation may have been responsible for their improved sleep and sense of well-being.
A couple words of Caution
Before soaking in a hot tub though, speak with your doctor to ensure it is safe for you. If you have diabetes and suffer from nerve damage, it is especially important to receive doctor’s approval prior to using a spa. Additionally, because relaxing in a tub can lower blood pressure, always take caution when exiting it.
While it may take additional studies to further solidify these results, upon your doctor’s approval, go ahead and soak, relax, and unwind.
Beware of Burns
Diabetes can contribute to nerve damage, leaving your feet less sensitive to hot or cold temperatures. Stepping into boiling water could scald you before you feel a thing. To prevent burns, keep the water temperature at or below 105°F (40.5°C) or lower. Always dip your elbow in first to test the waters.
Protect Your Heart Health
Though you may feel relaxed, excessive heat can cause your heart to beat faster. If you have an underlying heart problem, you risk serious heart damage as a result. Talk with your doctor about heart concerns before soaking. Even if your heart appears healthy, hop out of the tub after 20 minutes and cool off before re-entering.
Mind Your Insulin
Hot tubs pose special challenges if you take insulin. If you wear an insulin pump, you’ll most likely need to remove it before entering. Check with your doctor to see how long you can safely go without it.
In addition, heat can increase the rate at which your body absorbs insulin. This means the dose of insulin you took before your soak may not last as long as it usually does. The end result could be low blood glucose levels.
Check your blood glucose more frequently than usual in and around hot tub time. Staying hydrated can also help keep your core temperature in check and your blood glucose steady.