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Nothing is more relaxing than sinking into a spa after a long day, but it could be more beneficial for your health than you realise. Since ancient times, people around the world have used tubs of hot water for healing purposes. Modern spas are based on a Japanese concept developed around 737 AD, where people used naturally heated water from geothermal springs to build onsens, which are still used today as large baths for public or private use. The ofuro came next, which was an early form of the modern bathtub and was meant only for relaxation instead of washing.

People quickly noticed that their physical and emotional states improved after using the ofuro, as hot water relaxes the body and mind. The average temperature of an ofuro is 40–43°C, which is the maximum setting in most modernday spas. It’s recommended that spas match your natural body temperature of approximately 36°C, as anything above 40°C can cause overheating and dehydration.

In present-day spa design, a combination of features are used to create an experience that enhances the long list of benefits of soaking in hot water.

What Is Hydrotherapy?

The inclusion of spa jets started in the 80s and quickly grew in popularity. Massage increases blood and lymph-node circulation, which helps to rid the body of built-up toxins. Hydrotherapy uses a combination of massage, water submersion and differing heat levels to provide multiple healing benefits.

Modern-day spas like the therapeutic Platinum AquaZone® by Signature Spas can provide a fullbody massage, including the neck and shoulder areas. The strategically positioned jets featured in this design deliver a deep-tissue massage at the press of a button, for effective hydrotherapy.

The shift from concrete or wood to acrylic in the early 80s enabled spa manufacturers to mould the interior into shaped seating and allow the jets to target specific regions on the body. No matter the size of spa you opt for, it will have grooves so that even in a social setting, you can still feel the benefits of hydrotherapy.

This hydrotherapy technique includes variation

in intensity, and targets specific areas to help ease tense muscles and inflammation.

The warmth of hot water and the buoyancy of the body when submerged can also alleviate aches and pains such as arthritis, and can reduce the severity of headaches. The body weighs a mere 10 per cent of its overall weight in the water, which means joints and muscles are relieved of extra pressure and pain is reduced. Heat has an anti-inflammatory effect, which helps to ease sore muscles and bones.

While you sit and relax, the hot water will slowly lower your blood pressure and aid your overall cardiovascular health. While your body and mind will be at ease, the heat will create a workout for your heart, which can help prevent heart disease. Your blood vessels will also dilate from the heat, which will help alleviate the frequency and severity of headaches.

As your heart rate increases in response to the heat, your body will start to burn calories, which means you can lose weight while soaking! A study from the Loughborough University in England showed that bathing in hot water for an hour can raise your overall body temperature enough so that you burn as many calories as you would on a 30-minute walk!

High blood pressure and weight gain can greatly increase the risk of type-2 diabetes. By making a habit of taking a long dip every couple of days, a spa can help prevent or manage this condition.

Stress Less

Relaxing in a spa is a great way to relieve stress, as hot water has been proven to have a calming effect on the brain. Some modern spas are fitted with small water features and mood lighting to further encourage a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. An outdoor spa that’s surrounded by plants will also help to considerably lower concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol.

If you have trouble sleeping, then taking a quick 20-minute soak a couple of hours before bed can help. In the late evening, your body begins its nightly cool-down process, which ends around 4am. By raising your body temperature before the cool-down process begins, it will drop more steeply at bedtime, which will send you into a deeper sleep.

Adding essential oils to the water will create an aromatherapy paradise within your spa. Oils such as bergamot, cedarwood, chamomile and marjoram can be used to alleviate stress, while adding lavender will also promote better sleep.

A Win For Skin

If you have acne-prone skin, then the occasional dip may be beneficial. The chemicals used in a spa are usually chlorine or bromine, which are drying to the skin and will help reduce oiliness. However, a major benefit of chlorine is that it’s antibacterial. Bad bacteria are one of the main causes of breakouts, so chlorinated water may help!

While your face remains unsubmerged, your skin won’t come into direct contact with chemicals in the pool, however your pores will benefit from the steam. The humid air will slowly open your pores and release any grime or grease that has built up over the day, which will help alleviate future breakouts.

That said, be mindful that the drying properties of chlorine can send your skin’s oil production into overdrive, which could result in more breakouts. To avoid this, a good balance is paramount. To achieve the best possible outcome for healing acne, wash the spa chemicals off your face and body straight after a dip and moisturise.

Although lesser-known, saltwater spas can create the same antibacterial affect without being drying to the skin. Keep in mind, this option isn’t chlorine-free – it just uses much less of it.

The spa has come a long way since its origins; the inclusion of jets and moulded seating has transformed it into a hydrotherapy heaven. Spas may not be able to fix everything, but they can be a lifesaver for those with chronic health issues, from tight muscles to arthritis. Modern spas allow you to socialise while enjoying a vast array of health benefits, which makes them an excellent addition to your outdoor area.

Image Credit: Hayward Pool Products (Australia) Pty Ltd