Physical and Mental Effects of Bathing: A Randomized Intervention Study

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Abstract

Showering is the most common form of bathing worldwide. Whole-body immersion bathing in warm water (~40°C) is common in Japan and exerts sufficient hyperthermic action to induce vasodilatation and increase blood flow, supplying more oxygen and nutrients to the periphery. Cross-sectional studies report better subjective health status with an immersion bathing habit. This randomized controlled trial compared the effects on health of immersion bathing and shower bathing in 38 participants who received 2-week intervention of immersion bathing in warm water (40°C) for 10 min (bathing intervention) followed by 2-week shower bathing without immersion (showering intervention) or vice versa (n = 19 each group). Visual analog scale scores were significantly better for fatigue, stress, pain, and smile and tended to be better for self-reported heath and skin condition after bathing intervention than after showering intervention. The SF-8 Health Survey showed significantly better general health, mental health, role emotional, and social functioning scores. Profile of Mood State scores were lower for stress, tension-anxiety, anger-hostility, and depression-dejection. Immersion bathing, but not shower bathing, exerts hyperthermic action that induces increased blood flow and metabolic waste elimination, which may afford physical refreshment. Immersion bathing should improve both physical and emotional aspects of quality of life.

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Goto, Y., Hayasaka, S., Kurihara, S., & Nakamura, Y. (2018). Physical and Mental Effects of Bathing: A Randomized Intervention Study. In Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Vol. 2018). Hindawi Limited. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/9521086

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