Winter Health Tip Number 1: Take a long soak in the bath We all know full well that taking a bath is about so much more than just getting clean. A leisurely bath is an indulgence, a balm for body and soul – and it’s also good for your health. In fact, now that the cooler weather is here, can you think of anything more relaxing than a hot bubble bath on a cold winter’s night? If you don’t currently have a bathtub in your bathroom, you’re missing out in more ways than you can imagine. Did you know that warm water has always been associated with health and wellbeing? Hydrotherapy dates back to ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman times and the health benefits of baths have long since been scientifically proven. Here are some of the major benefits for body, mind and soul from having a long soak in the tub. • It helps you sleep better There’s a reason why parents of babies and young children insist on bath time every evening. It helps the little darlings easily drift off to sleep. The same applies to adults too. When your body feels cold, your normal sleep pattern may be disturbed. However, a comfortably warm temperature will help you fall asleep faster and sleep through the night with fewer interruptions. Not only will you wake up refreshed and raring to go, a good night’s sleep is also associated with health benefits ranging from pain recovery to immune benefits, better mood and even weight loss. • It acts as pain relief If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from acute or chronic pain conditions including osteoarthritis, taking a hot bath will alleviate symptoms and bring some welcome relief. Under water, your body is weightless, while blood circulation will increase with the hot water temperature. That way, muscles are relaxed, and inflammation in sensitive joints is reduced. At the same time, stretching and moving under water is much easier, acting as an effective low impact form of resistance exercise for your muscles, joints and bones, helping recovery from back, knee and other joint injuries and issues. • It reduces stress Stress is a major issues for many people in our modern, often hectic world. However, it’s when you’re particularly busy that it’s most important to make space for ‘me time’, allowing you to switch off and recharge your batteries. Just thinking of a warm bubble bath in the privacy of your home sanctuary may put you in a more relaxed state of mind. Make bath time a time to indulge and pamper yourself, with no outside disturbances and literally soothe your troubles away. Together with soft music and mood lighting in the bathroom , feel the relaxing effect on your nervous system as your mental stress and anxiety is reduced. • It gives you better skin Did you know that our bodies are made up of around 70% water? Proper hydration is essential to keep us healthy, which is why drinking 1-2 litres of water a day is recommended by health professionals. Taking a hot bath is another effective way to keep the body hydrated and your skin optimally moisturised. What’s more, the effect of the hot water is that it opens the pores and allows you to sweat out toxins through our largest organ, the skin. Cold water tightens the pores, which is why many people swear by finishing their bath time with an invigorating cold shower. • It helps you fight cold and flu If you have a cold or are suffering from flu, a hot steam bath will bring welcome relief. There is scientific evidence to suggest that a hot bath will raise your body temperature enough to fight off cold and flu viruses. In addition, breathing in the steam while sitting in the bath will work wonders to clear nasal congestion and a blocked nose – some of the most irritating cold and flu symptoms. Try adding menthol or eucalyptus oil into the bathwater for an even better effect, or if you regularly suffer from cluster headaches or sinusitis. About the Author: Annie Button is a Portsmouth based writer and English Literature graduate. Annie likes to share her experiences and knowledge through her blog posts and has written for various online and print publications. When she’s not writing Annie likes cooking healthy new recipes and relaxing with a good book'. Twitter: Annie Button