On this Father’s Day weekend why not let dad destress by letting him get into some warm water.
As men, stress is one of those things we feel we can deal with and it will eventually fade or go away. After all, we have been taught as men to be strong, not talk about our feelings and just deal with stressful situations.
However, too much stress is not good and can be very harmful to our health. Stress negatively effects the 7 out of the 11 major bodily systems and nearly every process of the body is degenerated because of stress. Longer term stress issues can cause high blood pressure, anxiety, decreased sex drive, digestive problems, headaches, obesity, cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart attacks or heart disease.
Men also experience stress much differently than woman do. Studies have shown that men take stress harder than women but are less likely than women to report that stress has a very strong impact on their health.
How water can help mange stress
Now more than ever there is increasing scientific proof that warm water immersion can help with stress management.
In a research study, a colleague of mine Dr. Bruce Becker, from Washington State University, focused on the benefits to the autonomic nervous system when soaking in warm water. The autonomic nervous system helps people adapt to changes in the environment and influences the bodies functions such as heart rate, digestion and respiration.
It consists of 2 parts:
1. The Sympathetic Nervous System, which reacts to stress commonly known as the flight or flight system.
2. The Parasympathetic Nervous System, which helps to reduce stress and promote calmness.
Ideally the goal is to have these 2 systems be in balance.
When immersed in a warm water environment this balance is achieved.
Dr. Becker’s study compared warm water immersion to meditation. He was able to find that in addition to reducing stress, soaking in warm water improved subjects’ mental creativity and focus.
Recommendations for water temperature are between 94 degrees and 102 degrees. Typical time spent in the warm water should be between 20-25 minutes making sure to keep hydrated while in the water.
Further benefits of using warm water to help combat stress are the effects it has on your muscular system. When submerging up to your neck in the water approximately 90% of your body weight is reduced. This will help to promote improved joint mobility and increased muscle relaxation.
Incorporating massage jets and performing gentle neck stretching will help to reduce that increased muscle tension that typically occurs in the neck and shoulder muscles after a long hard day at work.
Studies have also shown that performing warm water immersion improves sleep patterns as well.
So what are you waiting for, doesn’t dad deserve a swim spa or hot tub!
Dr. Rick McAvoy, PT, DPT, CSCS has specialized in Aquatic Physical Therapy, Fitness and Sports Performance for over 25 years. Rick is the Owner of Swim Spa Exercise, a virtual training company to help people maximize the use of their swim spas. He wants everyone to Move Better and Live Better.
For more information of how to maximize the use of your Swim Spa and how to Move Better and Live Better visit.
Stressed in America: January 2011, Vol 42, No. 1 Print version: page 60 American Physcological Association