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Health Spa Benefits

Medical research has found that hot-water therapy can help with a number of health issues. However, it’s important to consult a physician prior to beginning any new health regimen. Your doctor can help you develop a hot tub treatment that’s individualized for your specific needs. That said, here are some health areas addressed by hot tub use.

Arthritis. Hot-water therapy is known to relieve arthritis pain for many patients who suffer from this debilitating disease. In fact, the Arthritis Foundation (www.arthritis.org) is a staunch advocate of hot-water therapy. There are many effective ways to minimize pain and loss of motion from arthritis, so you should work with your doctor and other health professionals to develop a custom program of treatment that takes into account the type of arthritis you have, how it affects you, the severity of the disease, and the joints affected.

Diabetes. More than 15 million Americans have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. And the only way to manage the problems and side effects that accompany the disease is to closely monitor blood glucose (sugar) levels. A study published in the September 6,1999, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine found that hot tub therapy might help those suffering from type 2 diabetes by reducing their blood sugar levels and improving sleep patterns. According to the study, the effects of hot-water therapy can mimic some of the effects of physical exercise, which is recommended for patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. In the independent study, led by Dr. Philip L. Hooper at the McKee Medical Center in Loveland, Colorado, patients with type 2 diabetes were required to soak in a hot tub for

30 minutes a day, 6 days a week, for 3 weeks. The results: Average blood sugar levels were reduced by an average of 13 percent. One of the subjects was even able to reduce his daily dose of insulin by 18 percent after only 10 days of therapy. Though these findings are encouraging for diabetics who have difficulty exercising, it is imperative that anyone with diabetes consult his or her physician before beginning hot tub treatments.

Stress. Like therapeutic massages, spas have the power to release tension, relax muscles, and temporarily reduce stress.

Sleep. According to the Better Sleep Council (www.bettersleep.org), in 2004, 65 percent of Americans were losing sleep due to stress, and 16 percent of Americans experienced stress-induced insomnia. The National Sleep Foundation (www.sleepfoundation.org) recommends a 15-minute hot bath to help relieve stress before sleeping. The foundation points to studies that suggest that soaking in hot water (such as in a hot tub or bath) before retiring to bed can ease the transition into deeper sleep. However, you should exit the spa about 20 to 30 minutes before going to bed to ensure that you are no longer sweating or overheated when you “hit the hay.”

High Blood Pressure. The heat causes blood vessels to dilate, which lowers blood pressure. However, never use hot tub therapy to treat any illness or disease without first getting approval from a physician. Be careful not to overdo it. If you begin to feel nauseated or dizzy, slowly get out of the tub and rest.

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