The Laziest Exercise Tactic Believed to Work

Passive Heating:
The lazy-person’s way to get the benefits of exercise?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Source: iflscience site (augmented reblog)

Exercise is essential for body and brain health

I know that,
know that,
he, she and it knows that!! 

I doubt that there is anyone reading these words who does NOT know that.

  • How many books and blogs and gurus tout the importance of a regular exercise routine?
  • And how many times have how many of us sworn that we were gonna’ start tomorrow?
  • And do we DO that?  Not so much.

According to a study by Nuffield Health, 18% of us never exercise while 40% exercise less than once a month.

In an ideal world, says Grant Tosner, personal trainer and ambassador for Bio-Synergy: “We would follow government guidelines and exercise for 30 minutes at least five times a week.”

A mere 16% say they meet the guidelines.

Well guess what?

Some of us may have already been exercising 30 minutes practically every day — and we didn’t even know it!

We may have been exercising passively.

At least that’s what a recent study seems to indicate!

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Hot and sweaty is still hot and sweaty!


Only recently has science began to understand how passive heating improves health — as opposed to getting hot and sweaty from exercise.

A Loughborough University study investigated the effect of a hot bath on an important measure of metabolic fitness: blood sugar control.  They also took a look at the energy expended — the number of calories burned.

  • They recruited 14 men to take part in the study who were assigned to either an hour-long soak in a hot bath (water above 40 degrees Celsius/104 degrees Fahrenheit) or an hour of cycling.
  • Both activities were designed to cause a 1˚C [33.8˚F] rise in core body temperature over the course of one hour.
  • They measured how many calories the men burned in each session, and measured their blood sugar for 24 hours after each trial.

A few details from the study

Participants arrived in a fasted state, and a capillary blood sample was drawn for specific glucose, triglyceride, and cholesterol assessments. Their height and weight were recorded and BMI (body mass index) calculated.

Seventy-two hours prior to the start of each experimental trial, participants reported to the laboratory where they were fitted with a continuous glucose monitor device [CGM] which took glucose measurements  every 15 minutes.

CGM data were analyzed for 2-hours post meal for glucose AUC (glucose response curve) and peak glucose concentration. Diet and timing were monitored for 24 hours before and after the trial.


Cycling resulted in more calories burned overall, compared with a hot bath, but the surprise was that bathing resulted in about as much caloric impact as a half-hour walk — around 140 calories burned.

The overall blood sugar response to both conditions was similar, but peak blood sugar after eating was about 10% lower when participants took a hot bath compared with when they exercised.

And that’s not all . . .

Besides emerging from the study clean and sweet-smelling, the lazy-man’s-way-to-exercise participants also showed changes to the inflammatory response similar to that following exercise.

The anti-inflammatory response to exercise has always been important since it helps to protect against infection and illness. Chronic inflammation is strongly associated with a reduced ability to fight off diseases.

The findings from this study suggest that repeated passive heating may contribute to reducing chronic inflammation, which often rides along with long-term diseases — for example, Type 2 diabetes.

New field of research

Passive heating for human health is a relatively new field of research, but some exciting results have emerged over the past few years.

  • A 2015 JAMA-published study conducted in Finland, suggested that frequent saunas can reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke – at least in men.
  • The possibility that passive heating could improve cardiovascular function received additional support when the University of Oregon published a study the following year (2016) showing that regular hot baths can lower blood pressure.
  • In a second study, the same group at the University of Oregon looked at the mechanism responsible for these improvements.

They found that passive heating raised levels of nitric oxide, a molecule that dilates blood vessels and reduces blood pressure.

This has implications for treating high blood pressure and improving peripheral circulation in people with type 2 diabetes.

Since type 2 diabetes is associated with reductions in nitric oxide availability, passive heating may help re-establish a healthier nitric oxide level and reduce blood pressure.

  • In order to establish the effect of increasing body temperature passively (as opposed to through physical exertion), another study was published in 2016 by a group from the Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago in New Zealand. They matched the intensity of heating from water immersion to that of running on a treadmill.

This study also points to the promising effect that may result from passive heating.

Compared with treadmill running, water immersion resulted in a greater increase in body temperature, as well as a greater reduction in average arterial blood pressure.

This is additionally important, since a reduction in blood pressure is closely associated with a reduced risk of developing heart disease.

This particular study also suggests some of the cardiovascular effects of passive heating may be comparable with those of exercise.

Better Blood Sugar Control?

As well as the cardiovascular effects of passive heating, there is evidence to suggest that there may be beneficial metabolic effects as well – such as better control of blood sugar.

The first study exploring the possibility was conducted by Philip Hooper of McKee Medical Center, Colorado, in 1999.  Hooper investigated the effect of three weeks of hot-tub therapy in patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

The results showed improvements in body weight, blood sugar control and a reduced dependence on insulin.

Hooper believed that these effects may result from changes to blood flow as a result of passive heating, but he was unable to identify a specific mechanism by which their intervention led to these benefits.

Since this early investigation, few studies have investigated the potential for passive heating to improve blood sugar control in humans. The Loughborough University study attempted to reignite interest in the health benefits that may be linked to passive heating.

Heat shock proteins may regulate blood sugar

Heat shock proteins are molecules that are made by all cells of the human body in response to stresses. Their levels rise following BOTH exercise and passive heating.

Animal studies may have identified how heating affects health. These studies suggest one of the key regulators of blood sugar control may be heat shock proteins.

In the long term, raised levels of these proteins may help the function of insulin and improve blood sugar control. (This makes sense since heat shock proteins have been shown to be lower in people with diabetes.)

It seems that activities that increase heat shock proteins may help to improve blood sugar control and offer an alternative to exercise.

These activities – such as soaking in a hot tub or taking a sauna – may have health benefits for people who are unable to exercise regularly. Hopefully – and with continued FUNDING – future medical science investigations worldwide will help to establish the true potential of passive heating as a therapeutic tool.


Science says hot baths might be better for us than we thought – and isn’t that just peachy news?

But don’t get too excited just yet.

While it certainly couldn’t hurt to start adding hot baths to your exercise regimen — and it just might help more than you think — unfortunately, it’s still a bit early to ditch the idea of physical exercise.

Sorry, Charlie.

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The genesis of this article was originally published by Steve Faulkner, Research Associate, Loughborough University;
Read the original article HERE —  published on The Conversation.

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

95 Responses to The Laziest Exercise Tactic Believed to Work

  1. Fantastic Madelyn.. as part of our final renovations we are changing out a dreadful bath that is too narrow and replacing with a good soaking tub.. apart from anything else I find it relaxes me which has to be beneficial.. if it also does all of the above… fabulous… xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Weekly Inspiration Roundup, Volume 11 | When Women Inspire

    • JUST got back from a birthday party – I might have sworn this came in while I was in the bathtub, getting ready, but WordPress says 8 hours ago. I was late for the 9PM party start and stayed over 4 hours (now just past 2:30 AM) – but I *know* I wasn’t in the tub THAT long – lol. My apologies for missing this notice.

      Truly grateful to you for spreading the word! And NOW, Tink & I are off to bed.


  3. lwbut says:

    Very interesting post Madelyn As a semi-exercising, insulin injecting, diabetic i appreciate the info. I wonder if hot showers work as well? 🙂 🙂

    The immune boosting concept ties well with the Native Indian cure for colds and flu – basically enter a hot teepee sauna and sweat out the virus.

    The science seems logical though i may need to read up on heat shock proteins. That’s a new one on me.

    I was wondering how this relates to the penchant of sports scientists for ice-baths as assisting in the body’s after work-out recovery? Maybe different extremes of body heat generate health specific benefits in some ways?

    I posted on suicide for mental health week as promised 😉

    Hope you are keeping healthy and well! 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Christy B says:

    Well now I’m feeling really good about my hot tub lounging tonight! Thanks for the info and wow I didn’t know a lot of this ~ A lazy day here and I’m not to be guilted about it ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. dgkaye says:

    Fantastic news M. I’m giving up the gym for hot baths! LOL 🙂 xo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sageleaf says:

    Thank you again for coming to my blog. 🙂 Found this post and definitely enjoyed the read. 🙂 That’s something about the whole “health” thing. Wow. 40% of all people exercise once a month or less!? I’m blown away by that statistic. It’s strange and funny to me that we don’t help ourselves more to be in better shape. I’ve been guilty of it, though, in the past. Now, I try to walk 10K steps every day. I suppose society is sort of set up that way: we have to drive everywhere (especially if it’s unsafe to walk where you live), or we have such busy lives we eat convenience foods, or we sit at desks all day and don’t move much and then when we get home, we have so many family demands or we’re so tired we just can’t get some exercise time in…here I am and I just want to fix it, lol. Ah well…such good food for thought. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep – you described it well. I know just what you mean about the pull to “fix it” — I always feel it too (helper’s disease – lol) We both know better, but still . . .

      My current goals are to reactivate my stalled yoga practice and eat more fruit. Then we’ll see about 10K steps (and some graduated resistance training at a gym).

      Thanks for the visit and for taking the time to leave a great comment.


  7. How water might help with metabolising sugar and weight loss, but it is a safe bet that that hot water doesn’t exercise your muscles or protect your bones from osteoporosis.

    If you don’t exercise your muscles, you become frail and lose muscle mass.

    The best exercise for bone density is weight lifting – that is if you are supplying your body with healthy calcium. I’ve read research that says calcium from milk (and dairy products) is horrible for our bones while calcium from green leafy vegetables and calcium citrate are good for our bone health.

    And while we are soaking in that hot tub or hot bath, what about all the chemicals in the tap water that is being absorbed by our body through our skin?

    Liked by 1 person

    • ALL good points, Lloyd. You are absolutely right that passive heating augments but can’t replace the other kind. I really DO need to put my last paragraph in bold — and maybe underline a couple of other caveats. 🙂

      Thanks for underscoring the benefits of “real” exercise. As for your last sentence, I wonder if there have been any studies on the chemically-protective benefits of Epsom Salts in the bath.


      • I’m guilty of scanning. Blame that on information overload. Every day there are dozens of new e-mails shouting for my attention, so I scan the ones I don’t delete and don’t open and seldom read the ones I keep for detail.

        In fact, I often read the first and last paragraph or scan several early paragraphs to pick up a few details. If I read everything that I keep, I’d have to give up sleep, food, hot showers, exercise, renovating the house I bought last year, reading books, writing books, etc.

        I’d rot and my brain would cook from all the screen time.

        Liked by 1 person

        • BOY do I hear you on that one! I already spend way too much time online myself. I appreciate your visits all the more now, however. Thanks for not deleting me. 🙂


          • Every day I seem to end up spending several hours … several hours … opening and scanning the e-mails that I think are interesting and relevant to what I want to know.

            For that reason, I don’t even get online until after I work on my latest project for the house I’m renovating. I get up between 6 – 6:30 AM, exercise for an hour, have the first meal of the day, and then get outside. This morning I was out by 9 AM and worked on the storage shed I’m bulding until 12:30 PM.

            Then I sat down and started to read my e-mails. That was almost four hours ago.


            PS: One of my emails was an alert that my favorite singer-songwriter announced that her debut album will be released 11-3-17.

            Its name will be “Just the Beginning,” and Grace VanderWaal teased her fans with a new song from that album. That took up a few minutes. That song is called “So Much More Than This.”

            I plan to pre-order a copy of her debut album.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Cool. You turned me on to Grace – so thanks for the link. I’ll check it out when I take my next break.

              Since the blue-spectrum light of a computer screen is alerting (and my brain takes longer than usual to awaken), I usually start with an hour or two of comment responses, but only from the WPress drop-down. I have to be at the top of my game to trudge through the e-glut. Some days I never get there – lol.

              I could NEVER start working first thing like you do. I have to DRAG myself away from the screen to get Tink out. He has a “spot” in the apt. set up for him, but he generally waits – and lets me know when it’s time to stop and take him out! Dogs are so amazing.


            • Was that your introduction to Grace?

              If so, get the tissues ready for those happy tears when you watch this Windex commercial. That’s Grace’s voice. She’s singing one of her original songs (She wrote and decided on the music that goes with the lyrics) – this version was produced in a studio. When she wrote and first performed this song, she was 12, and she sang it live on stage while competing for America’s Got Talent in 2016 that she won that year.

              This Windex commercial is fast approaching 5-million views.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Nope – you introduced her to me some time back. I spent an hour or so watching America’s Got Talent then. So young to be so talented. And her personality is lovely. No TV so I was unaware of her Windex commercial.


            • Grace was also the closing act for the 2017 Speical Olympics held in Austria. Here she is on stage with her three-member band performing for a huge crowded stadium. Look at all the lights.

              Liked by 1 person

            • What an amazing experience for one so young. The success of her future career is practically assured. SUCH an unusually mature and positive-minded young teen. Very uplifting.


            • Looks like it. I hope the fame doesn’t ruin her.

              Liked by 1 person

            • My hope for her as well, but fame is a harsh mistress. She seems to have a pretty good head on those young shoulders, however, and I’ll bet her parents are equally amazing. I hope they are able to keep her from going the way of Miley Cyrus. Time will tell.


            • Her father is a VP in marketing for LG Corporation and I’ve learned enough to know they are parents that are not afraid to say no.

              They said no to Grace wanting a Ukelele. They told her it would end up another toy she would tire of and cast aside. But when her birthday arrived, she was given enough cash from friends and family that she bought her own Ukelele, learned how to play it through YouTube, and I’ve read she then studied music theory on her own before ending up competing on AGT.

              In an interview, Grace said she thinks her parents refusing to buy her a Ukelele caused her to prove them wrong by not tossing it aside.

              On The Ellen Show, Grace was asked if she got an allowance. Grace said no and then she said …

              Liked by 1 person

            • I’m sure he is extremely grateful to folks like you adding to his marketing efforts on her behalf.


            • I can’t help it. I’m a fan of her music. Hooked.

              Did you see when she returned to AGT this year and performed as the previous year’s winner? In an interview after that performance, Grace said her stress was so intense that her hands were shaking and she had trouble playing the Ukelele, but you wouldn’t know it.

              If you watch the video, skip the first minute. She doesn’t start to sing until the second minute at 1:23.

              Liked by 1 person

            • lol – she’s certainly adorable as well as talented.


  8. Chuck says:

    Hi Madelyn,
    We all have excuses of why we don’t exercise. The community I live in has a exercise (gym) room and it is across the street from my house (maybe 100 yards). I try to go three times a week for 45 minutes on an elliptical machine. I’m not always faithful.

    If we were playing Monopoly, I would win today. I went to the dermatologist to remove some skin cancer and he told me NOT to exercise for two weeks. WOW I win. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is an interesting concept, “Passive heating”! We’re so use to the every other day at the gym for 1 – 3 hours. Once again we find it interesting how now we’re back to hot baths are okay… butter no butter, margarine no margarine, spank your children don’t spank your children. We need a score card, lol. Great post Madelyn. We’re finding the middle. Now does exercise include the amount of reps we use to eat that banana split, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Alex Sarll says:

    Haha brilliant- i’ll go home and have a bath then, instead of going for a run!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. -Eugenia says:

    Madelyn, you never cease to amaze me with your knowledge and kudos to you for sharing. I love this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I keep renting properties with a bath yet I don’t use them. It’s not recommended for people with my medical condition and I imagine further injury trying to get without help. The indignity of needing help would be too much to bear. Not winning. But a humerous visual I’m sure you would agree? Cheers,H

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOVE your sense of humor, Helen. I can sort-of relate to your experience with baths. When my leg was broken and I was in a hip-cast for a year I lived in an apartment with a deep claw foot tub. Leg wrapped in a garbage bag and hanging over the side, I had to be lifted in and out to get really clean – otherwise it was “sink baths.”

      It was mortifying, even tho’ my helper was my boyfriend at the time. I can’t imagine being helped out by strangers – or how I’d even get them there to help me.

      For me, its a deal-breaker if there is a shower but no tub. I’m hypersensitive to showers – just hit me with a fire hose. lol.


  13. Opher says:

    I’ve just put two extra jumpers on! Great post Madelyn.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. DC Gilbert says:

    Now, that’s interesting! Now I know what I have been doing wrong all these years … taking showers!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. John Fioravanti says:

    Reblogged this on Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti and commented:
    Hate exercise? There’s hope for us! Madelyn Griffith-Haynie gives us a fascinating look at some research that claims that Passive Heating might provide similar benefits to physical exercise. Please, read on…

    Liked by 1 person

  16. colinandray says:

    I am “borderline diabetic” with Restless Legs Syndrome, and a hot shower does seem to help when RLS becomes really annoying. Interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry to hear that, Colin. Try a 30-minute tub bath and see if that helps even more.

      Another brain-fact following passive heating: Even tho’ most folks believe it is the warm bath that makes them sleepy, the brain’s cue to sleep comes most strongly as it cools down post heating. Core body temperature actually lowers in sleep – which is why sleep scientists encourage sleeping in a cool room (and why it’s more difficult to sleep in the summer heat).

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Oh good!! This is such a relief lol 😉 For months, I’ve been nagging myself “you really need to exercise!” But I just haven’t been able to cultivate the motivation. Just now, I had begun to nag myself again. Then I saw your post! And a big smile spread across my face 😁 THIS is something I can wrap my head around and talk my brain into! 👏🏼👏🏼👍🏼💓💗

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Wow Madelyn a wonderful post and for sure we have become lazy bones and there are so many exercises available to us. Great pictures and loved lazy Charlie in his bathtub.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. that are good news… and I feel better now … I no longer regret that my fitness equipment still sleeps in its box … since 2011 (omg I’m terrible lol)

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pilates reformer was stolen (long story) and I left my yoga mats behind when visiting out of town. My friends just returned them by mail. No excuses now – drat it all. 🙂

      BUT, as someone who much prefers baths to showers, I couldn’t resist sharing when I came across these studies. With diabetes in my family, I was especially thrilled to read the news about the impact of hot water on insulin response.

      No more guilt about lazing in a tub up to my neck in bubbles. 🙂


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