Some Things You Didn't Know ... About the Health Benefits of Walk-in Tubs

By Alan Knight

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With all the commercials on TV, in print and online featuring the Walk-in Tub, most people have some idea about the relaxing benefits of the Walk-in Tub.  Advertising has also emphasized the safety benefits and the ease of use.  However, there are many other benefits that come with warm/hot water therapy that you might not have realized. Importantly, your health.

Weight loss can be an additional benefit from regular use of the Walk-in Tub.  As unbelievable as it may sound, recent studies have proven that the regular use of warm/hot water therapy can aid in the reduction of weight, as well as diminish the appearance of cellulite.  This is because soaking in hot water can simulate the effects of aerobic exercise. The hydrotherapy provided by the tub dilates the blood vessels, promoting better circulation as it relaxes the skin and muscles.  It also raises the heart rate, while lowering the blood pressure.  This seems to indicate that soaking in a warm/hot water may also provide healthful benefits, similar to those stemming from mild aerobic exercise.  

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An article that appeared in the September 16, 1999 issue of the “New England Journal of Medicine” followed a group of subjects who were required to soak in hot water for 30 minutes a day, six days a week, for three weeks. Though the study was designed for diabetes research, the results were wide-reaching.  The patients' weight was reduced by an average of 3.75 pounds.  The subjects lost over one pound per week, just by soaking in hot water.

Routine use of hot-water-jetted therapy can also diminish the appearance of cellulite.  The fatty deposits that typically gather on the hips, thighs and buttocks of most women past their 30s can never be fully eliminated, unless one undergoes expensive and invasive procedures such as liposuction.  The design of a woman's body naturally causes the skin to dimple, whether she is overweight or thin.  According to a variety of medical sources, the hydrotherapy that a Walk-in Tub provides stimulates the blood vessels, increasing circulation.  It also tones the body tissue, reduces fluid retention, and relieves swelling.  These factors combined can result in diminishing the appearance unsightly cellulite.

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Let me pause and explain the difference between the whirlpool and the air bath.  Most Walk-in Tubs offer either or both features. The greatest difference in the two therapies is the type of massage provided.  Whirlpool baths provide a more “aggressive,” deep tissue and joint massage. They’re often used to treat patients in hospitals, athletic training rooms, and physical therapy facilities.  A whirlpool bath is extremely beneficial in treating muscle sprains, damaged joints, back problems and aches and pains that arise from time to time as we age.  Both the “New England Journal of Medicine” and the National Arthritis Foundation have recognized and endorsed the benefits of hydrotherapeutic whirlpool baths in the enhancement of circulation, which is very important to anyone suffering from the effects of arthritis and diabetes, as well as injuries or just muscle stress from exercise. So again: whirlpool baths provide “high pressure” massage.

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Air baths, on the other hand, provide a different type of massage than whirlpool baths.  It is a less-deep, soft tissue massage.  The low pressure soft massage of an air-jetted bath is provided by millions of heated air bubbles that contact the skin after they’re released from jet ports that are placed in various parts of the Walk-in Tub.  The air bubbles that the blower produces sooth the body, boost cardiac output, open pores and improve circulation. Plus, let’s face it, they just feel great. It’s like being caressed by millions of tiny, tender loving bubbles. Air jet baths, then, provide a “low pressure” massage.

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Did you know that lower back pain is the number two reason in the U.S. (after colds and the flu) for a visit to the doctor?  Millions of people suffer needlessly.  In 1995, a study published in the “British Journal of Rheumatology” offered evidence that hot water therapy has both short- and long-term benefits for people with lower back pain.  After three weeks of consistent spa therapy, examinations showed more improvement in the health status (as measured in pain duration, intensity and back flexibility) of the spa treatment group than of the medication-only group.  After six months, significant improvement continued in the spa therapy group.  In addition, patients’ use of analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs had decreased.

Another little known benefit of Walk-in Tubs is in surgical recovery.  A study conducted in Alexandria, Virginia back in 2007 showed that warm water therapy aided in the recovery process for knee replacement patients.  This study found that patients had improved range of motion and less pain and swelling throughout their recovery process. These were attributed to the time spent in hydrotherapy sessions.

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As I mentioned earlier, one significant benefit of warm water therapy is in improving the cardiovascular system. Soaking in hot water therapy can produce some of the same health benefits of aerobic (also known as “cardio”) exercise, with less stress to the heart.  A warm water therapy experience increases the heart rate while lowering the blood pressure, instead of raising it, as other forms of exercise will do.  Research led by Dr. Thomas G. Allison of the world-renowned Mayo Medical Center, examined the body temperature and cardiovascular stress experienced by 15 patients at risk for heart disease both in hot water and on exercise bicycles. The studies showed that exercise caused blood pressure to rise from an average of 121/73 to 170/84.  By contrast, sitting in a hot water spa made the blood pressure drop from an average of 117/77 to 106/61.  The article also states that warm water therapy can raise one’s heart rate by as much as 25.7 beats per minute.

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Now let's talk about diabetes for a moment. Can a Walk-in Tub really help?  According to the Diabetes Association, over 15.7 million Americans are diabetic.  Tight control of blood glucose (sugar) levels is the only defense against the many problems and side effects that come from diabetes.  Studies published in the September 16, 1999 issue of the “New England Journal of Medicine” gave new hope to the millions who suffer from diabetes.  It stated that hot tub therapy helped a group of American Type 2 diabetics reduce their blood sugar levels and improve sleep patterns.

Similarly, an independent study led by Dr. Phillip L. Hooper at the McKee Medical Center in Loveland, Colorado studied a group of Type 2 diabetes patients for three weeks. The patients were required to soak in a hot tub for 30 minutes a day, six days a week, for the duration of the study.  The results were astounding!  The patients' average blood sugar levels were reduced by an average of 13%.  Hooper also stated that one of the subjects was able to reduce his daily dose of insulin by 18% after only ten days of the study.  In reference to these findings, Dr. Hooper stated that hot tubs are especially helpful for patients who were unable to exercise, and recommended that hot tub treatments should be included as regular therapy for patients with diabetes.  

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But aren't we talking about Walk-in Tubs in this article?  Yes; keep in mind that the hot/warm water hydrotherapy benefits between a hot tub and a Walk-in tub are just the same.  Plus, Walk-in Tubs have advantages over the hot tub.  Their safety features immediately come to mind.  With most hot tubs, getting into and out of the tub can be awkward and sometimes dangerous, especially for the elderly.  Slipping and falling in the bathroom, statistically the most dangerous room in the house for seniors, is a possible risk that can be avoided entirely with the Walk-in Tub.  Oriented in their design towards the senior population, Walk-in Tubs come with a low threshold for entering and exiting the tub; a water-tight door; a form-fitting, no-slip seat and floor; and internal grab bars.  Additionally, the Walk-in Tub can be much more affordable than a large spa or hot tub.

The Walk-in Tub is a virtual, self-contained, safety-featured medical miracle when it comes to treating the body with air and water jets in warm/hot water.  From the moment your body gets immersed in the Walk-in Tub, it begins to experience physiological changes that naturally make you feel better. 

Why not immerse yourself in natural, hydrotherapeutic healing?  The Walk-in Tub can provide many health benefits that will keep you going strong and feeling great.

In this article, I discussed some of the key health benefits that can be gained from regular use of hydrotherapy sessions in warm/hot water, particularly in a Walk-in Tub. I talked about the cardiovascular benefits, cosmetic results, weight loss statistics and help in controlling symptoms of diabetes that a Walk-in Tub can provide. I also discussed the difference between whirlpool therapy and air jet therapy.

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Have a question? Feel free to contact me at the number or email listed at the end of this article and my brother, Alan, who heads up Tub King, will personally get back to you. It’s been my pleasure sharing this information with you.

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Alan Knight is the owner of Tub King, Inc., and  in Jacksonville, Florida. He has many years of experience in the antique and senior bathtub industries. His companies not only provide superior products, they are also award winners, receiving the “Best of Jacksonville Chamber Award” four years running. To contact Tub King directly, call (800)843-4231 or email