Soaking in hot tub improves health markers in obese women

April 24, 2018, Experimental Biology 2018
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

According to new research, obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may be able to improve their health outlook with a particularly enjoyable form of therapy: regular sessions in a hot tub.

The research found that soaking in a hot tub several times per week for two months results in improved measures of cardiovascular health, beneficial changes in fat tissue and other improvements suggestive of a of diabetes or other metabolic disorders.

PCOS, which affects one in 10 women of childbearing age, is a complex endocrine disorder often marked by abnormal , high testosterone levels and cyst formation on the ovaries. It is associated with infertility along with increased risk of obesity and diabetes, outcomes that are thought to be related to inflammation and dysfunction in fat tissue.

"Our findings are exciting because repeated heat exposure appears to reverse some of the inflammation in fat that may be causing metabolic health impairment in this population," said Brett Romano Ely, a doctoral candidate in the University of Oregon department of human physiology who conducted the study. "Along with this reduction in inflammation, we observed improvements in functional outcomes related to insulin resistance. This means that regular hot tub use could potentially be used as a therapy in populations with an elevated risk of developing metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes."

Ely will present the research at the American Physiological Society annual meeting during the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting, held April 21-25 in San Diego.

The research adds to a growing body of evidence for the health benefits of . It is the first study to examine impacts in women with PCOS and the first to look at changes in fat tissue before and after heat therapy.

In the study, six with PCOS underwent 1-hour sessions in a hot tub three to four times per week for about two months. Researchers analyzed samples of fat tissue taken at the beginning and end of the study and also tested insulin sensitivity in four of the women.

At the end of two months, the women showed reductions in fasting glucose during an oral glucose tolerance test (indicating a reduced risk of developing diabetes), reduced blood pressure and heart rate (indicating a reduced risk of heart disease) and other improvements in measures of heart health and metabolism. Surprisingly, some participants reported having regular menstrual cycles during the study, suggesting that heat could help mitigate some of the underlying physiological processes involved in PCOS.

Researchers speculate that sitting in a hot tub can yield some of the same benefits as aerobic exercise because both activities raise body temperature. This triggers an increase in the flow of blood to the skin as a cooling mechanism.

"We see blood flow patterns in subjects in the hot tub that look like what we see in subjects during aerobic exercise, so this change in blood flow may have a similar benefit to exercise on blood vessel health," Ely said.

In addition, heat exposure causes the body to increase proteins known as heat shock proteins, which are involved in reducing inflammation, repairing damaged insulin receptors and improving blood vessel structure and function. The researchers found levels of some were increased in after the therapy, indicating that these proteins could play a role in the reduced inflammation and improved they observed in the .

While the researchers saw some improvements after the first month of regular hot tub use, most improvements took the full two months to become apparent.

Explore further: Hormone from fat tissue can give protection against polycystic ovary syndrome

More information: Brett Romano Ely will present this research on Tuesday, April 24, from 10 a.m.-noon in the San Diego Convention Center Exhibit Hall (poster A161) (abstract).

Related Stories

Hormone from fat tissue can give protection against polycystic ovary syndrome

August 10, 2017
Obesity and reduced insulin sensitivity are common in polycystic ovary syndrome, PCOS. New research based on animal studies, and to be published in the journal PNAS, reveals that the hormone adiponectin can protect against ...

Researchers find out why polycystic ovary syndrome and diabetes are linked

June 4, 2015
Nearly 50 percent of women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) develop pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes before the age of 40, but the reasons for the correlation was unclear. In a new study in the American Journal of Physiology–Endocrinology ...

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome have double the risk of liver disease

March 28, 2018
Scientists at the University of Birmingham have found that increased male hormones result in women with polycystic ovaries having a two-fold increased risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

PCOS may reduce gut bacteria diversity

January 23, 2018
Women who have a common hormone condition that contributes to infertility and metabolic problems tend to have less diverse gut bacteria than women who do not have the condition, according to a new study published in the Endocrine ...

Researchers reveal link between PCOS, type 2 diabetes

August 29, 2017
Women who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D) and are diagnosed at an earlier age with the condition, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's ...

Study uncovers link between male hormones and metabolic disease in polycystic ovary syndrome

June 22, 2017
Scientists from the University of Birmingham have discovered the link between increased male hormones and metabolic complications such as diabetes and fatty liver disease in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Recommended for you

Why mothers in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan choose cesarean delivery

October 16, 2018
Pregnant women in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are more likely to express preference for cesarean section (CS) as their mode of delivery later in pregnancy and postpartum, as compared to early in pregnancy, according ...

Importance of cell cycle and cellular senescence in the placenta discovered

October 15, 2018
Working with researchers from Stanford University and St. Anna Children's Cancer Research, researchers from Jürgen Pollheimer's laboratory at the Medical University of Vienna's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology have ...

C-section rates have nearly doubled since 2000: study

October 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—The number of women delivering babies via cesarean section has nearly doubled worldwide since 2000, to about 21 percent, new research shows.

Study of nearly 41,000 women who almost died giving birth shows who's most at risk

October 10, 2018
Tens of thousands of American women each year need emergency treatment to save their lives while they deliver their babies, or immediately after. A new study shows how much their risk of a life-threatening birth depends on ...

In childbirth, when to begin pushing does not affect C-section rates

October 9, 2018
More than 3 million women in the United States give birth each year. But obstetricians have differing opinions about when women should begin pushing during labor and whether the timing of pushing increases the likelihood ...

Why single embryo transfer during IVF sometimes results in twins or triplets

October 8, 2018
It has been known for some time that it is better to transfer a single embryo to a woman's womb during assisted reproduction treatment (ART) rather than several embryos in order to avoid a multiple pregnancy and the risks ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.