It’s estimated that over 400 million people worldwide live with some form of diabetes. Fortunately, hydrotherapy has been shown to help alleviate many common diabetes symptoms. In this article, we will review the benefits of regular hot tub use for those living with diabetes, while also discussing some precautions that they should take when bathing in a hot tub.

How Hot Tubs Can Help Diabetes Patients

According to medical professionals, diabetes is best managed by making important lifestyle adjustments and monitoring your daily routines. Along with these adjustments, individuals with diabetes can also benefit from therapies that increase blood circulation, decrease inflammation, and reduce blood pressure.

Here are some of the benefits of hydrotherapy for those with diabetes.

Controlling Blood Sugar Levels

A Japanese study found that frequent hot water bathing among diabetes patients was associated with lower blood sugar levels compared to patients who bathed less often. These results are back up by a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine; which reported that diabetes patients who soaked in a hot tub for 30 minutes per day over a three-week period had reduced blood sugar levels when compared to those that did not.

A similar study found that patients with diabetes who bathed in hot water had around 10% lower blood sugar levels compared to when they exercised. After an hour-long hot bath, the calorie expenditure in these patients was roughly equivalent to that of a 25-30 minute walk. This would lead us to believe that bathing in hot tub water can provide the equivalent of light exercise, without affecting your blood sugars as much as traditional exercises.

A 2020 study published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice also reported that patients who underwent massage therapy treatments showed improvements in blood sugar levels. The combination of hot water bathing and massage, therefore, make hot tubs a great method for controlling your blood sugar levels.

Reducing Blood Pressure

It is common for people with diabetes to also experience hypertension (high blood pressure). In the previously mentioned Japanese study, 1297 patients with diabetes were asked about their bathing frequency. After adjusting their results for age, sex and blood pressure medications, the researchers found that those who bathed more frequently had lower blood pressure on average than those who bathed less often.

Results published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology indicate that after soaking in 32 degrees Celsius (~90 degrees Fahrenheit) water for one hour, participants had around 10% lower blood pressure when compared to participants who remained at room temperature. The researchers concluded that patients with heart disease can benefit from a hot water immersion regime.

Improving Blood Circulation

One of the long-term complications of diabetes is poor circulation. As blood vessels become damaged due to high blood sugar levels, veins and arteries become less efficient at delivering oxygen and nutrients to cells and tissues throughout the body.

Several studies have found that heat exposure leads to improved peripheral blood flow, meaning better circulation to the extremities. Massage is also an effective natural therapy for boosting blood circulation as it promotes better blood flow, helping deep tissues achieve the oxygen and nutrients they need.

The combination of heat and massage therapy provided by hot tubs can, therefore, help with long-term blood circulation in diabetes patients.

What Precautions Should People With Diabetes Take When Using Hot Tubs?

Before using your hot tub to help manage your diabetes symptoms, we recommend consulting your doctor. You should also:

  • Check your glucose levels before getting into the hot tub. If your levels are spiking or dropping, wait until they become normal.
  • Make sure that you include cool down periods in longer hot tub sessions. Damage to blood vessels and nerves (a complication of diabetes) can affect the sweat glands, affecting the cooling mechanism of the body, which can lead to heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
  • Bring water with you to stay hydrated as you bathe.
  • Exit the tub slowly, as a sudden change in temperature can cause blood pressure to drop too quickly.
  • Do not replace other essential diabetes treatment steps such as diet and exercise with hot tub therapy.

Wrapping Up

Chances are that you or someone you know suffers from diabetes. Hot tubs provide an easy, safe and accessible way for people with diabetes to help manage their symptoms.

Hot tubs can help to reduce many of the effects of diabetes, including reducing blood sugar, blood pressure and improving blood circulation. Though they are completely safe to use for people with diabetes, we still recommend talking to your doctor before using your hot tub to help manage diabetes symptoms as there are some precautions that should be taken into consideration.

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