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Four Real Benefits Of A Long, Hot Shower

by Gip Plaster on September 20th, 2011

Environmentalists quite rightly prod people to conserve resources, but some things are too important to limit or eliminate. Water conservation is important, but so is the health of body, mind and spirit.

Long, hot showers have so many benefits that it’s a shame to see people suggesting they be eliminated. While limiting a shower to five minutes of the coolest water tolerable will save water and energy, a short, cool shower may not be doing anyone any favors.

Oh no! It seems to be time for one of those numbered-point posts that some of my readers find less than inspirational.

With apologies to my readers who don’t have access to an unlimited supply of water, here are four kinds of benefits simple, deliberate people like me experience from taking a long, hot shower despite the environmental impact.

1. The obvious.

Hot water kills bacteria and cleans skin better than cooler water. It also more effectively clears away oils and loose skin, making it easier to get truly clean. Hot water opens pores so they release dirt instead of closing them off and sealing in dirt as cold water does. If getting clean is the object of your shower, hot water is the way to go.

2. The physical.

Cool water doesn’t soothe sore muscles the way hot water does. Stiff joints often respond to warm water and loosen up. Hot water encourages circulation, and good circulation helps reduce swelling and ease pain, among other benefits. For people with aches and pains, a hot shower can work better than an analgesic or anti-inflammatory pill to get a tired, injured body working again.

3. The mental.

Long, warm showers are good for the brain. Washing is a simple task that doesn’t require much conscious thought. While the hands go through the automatic tasks of cleansing the body, the mind is free to wander. Minds are at their most creative when they wander freely while the body is occupied with mundane tasks that don’t challenge the brain.

4. The spiritual.

Religions and spiritual paths from many parts of the world embrace the healing symbolism of running water to restore and soothe body, mind and spirit. Many religions also practice washing rituals for cleansing and preparation. Heat is a symbol of purification for those who follow some spiritual paths, too, making a hot shower a ritual of significant importance for some.

Taking the time for a long, hot shower every day may seem like a luxury, but it can be an important part of a healthy body, mind and soul. There’s no reason to feel guilty about a long, hot shower when there are so many benefit that come from them.

Do you agree that the benefits of some actions outweigh the possible negative impacts of them?

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From → Simpler Living

14 Comments
  1. For a little more than three years we’ve been living in various motorhomes traveling all over this great country of ours. Each of these motorhomes came with a fresh water tank that needs to be filled up at intervals. How often you need to fill it depends on your water usage. So the RVing community often recommends using minimalist water techniques. But I refuse to give up standing in my hot showers; they feel too good. Quality of life is, after all, what it is all about, isn’t it?

    • I expected to hear from some of my RVing readers, but I expected them to tell me how important water conservation is. But you’re right: Quality of life is the most important thing. Running our well takes electricity and that costs me money, but I’m not giving up my hot showers either.

      Gip

    • That’s what campground and truck stop showers are for, no? Luckily where I am right now there is ample geothermally heated water for infinite showers as well as long hot soaks. The latter, for me, is much more therapeutic. A shower is just for getting clean, and while I sometimes linger, my showers tend to be no more than 10 minutes or so even with unlimited water. I can sit and soak, however, for hours. Especially in the winter.
      Mike | Homeless On Wheels recently posted Why Do We Encourage Breeding?

      • I never really got into baths since I’ve had a shower most of my life. I think I would get too hot in a bath. In any case, that’s two RVers who have commented on this post and no one else. Very interesting.

        Gip

  2. I think we decide what we like to do and then seek the scientific evidence.

    Mostly, I’d say I’m thrilled to be so lucky as to have a choice!

    Some like it hot:
    http://just-healthy.net/hot-shower

    Some like it cold:
    http://www.cold-showers.com/a-doctors-view-on-cold-showers/

    and something for the “hot, then cold” crowd:

    http://artofmanliness.com/2010/01/18/the-james-bond-shower-a-shot-of-cold-water-for-health-and-vitality/

    And a balanced treatment for both
    http://www.secrets-of-longevity-in-humans.com/cold-showers.html

    I’m unsure the temperature of shower water is high enough to kill any significant bacteria. And while hot water cleans off oils better, most of us also use soap for that oily thing.
    Jess@miniMum recently posted Secondhand smarts – this reunion is cookin’!

    • Thanks for the useful links, Jess. A filter kept your comment from getting through because there are so many links, but it’s here now.

      I admit to washing my hands in cold water most of the time because I prefer it, but you’re supposed to use hot water because it kills much of the bacteria on its own. Still, cold water is more refreshing for hand washing. Of course, I brush my teeth with cold water, so I might be weird.
      Gip

  3. I’ve never heard anyone make the arguement for hot showers. It’s kind of nice. I love hot showers. I lived for two years without them while in Panama with Peace Corps. I had been known to heat a gallon of water on the stove and mix it with cool water in a five gallon bucket and ladel it over myself rather than take a shower in our straight off the mountain water, outdoor shower.

    The first thing I did when I got back to The States was take a hot bath, well first I had a twist cone from DQ, then I had a long bath. For me baths are soothing alone time; especially after long days working outside.

    So perhaps the real problems isn’t that hot water baths use a lot of water and energy, but that we don’t do it economically. Use solar to heat our water, give the grey water to the plants, that type of thing. If I ever get to build my own tiny house I’ll have to consider it.

    • Thanks for joining the conversation, Foy. Your blog looks great, by the way.

      I like dipped cones from DQ myself, although I’ve recently discovered Sonic’s new and improved ice cream. They’re not in every state, though.

      I’m glad to see so many of us like our hot showers! You’re right. There are better ways to heat water than they way most of us do it.
      Gip

  4. jesinalbuquerque permalink

    Yay! for hot showers. Mine aren’t long, but they are hot. And in the cold depths of winter, sometimes a soak in a bath as hot as I can stand is the only thing that warms my bones.

    • I’ve never really been interested in baths. We have a nice, big tub, however, so maybe now is the time to clean it out and try it. Probably not, though. With the faucet it has, it would take two days to fill it.

  5. Robin permalink

    Hi Gip!

    Quite refreshing to see someone note benefits of hot showers, usually it’s the other way around.

    While I do agree with some of the benefits, there are also lots of benefits of cold showers. I recently started taking cold showers each morning and I’ve actually noticed being more alert and focused during the day.

    On another note, cold showers also benefit the skin because the hot water will cause your skin to feel dry a lot more. And the cold water is great for muscles, many NFL pro’s take ice baths after games because it shortens their recovery period.

    All in all I don’t think one is better than the other, it’s just a matter of personal preference.
    Robin recently posted 30 day missions (1): A Morning Routine

    • I like hot showers even on hot days, mostly for the muscle-relaxing and head-clearing properties. Those are always my biggest issues. If it’s really hot, I’ve been known to switch to cold for a few minutes at the end. That’s supposed to be good to close pores and signal the body that the shower is over.
      Gip

  6. I like your argument for long showers! I’ve thought about 1) timing my families showers 2) changing our shower heads to a more “efficient” ones. I like to save money, but came to the same conclusions you did! It’s good to be clean and relaxed!
    caron recently posted Money-Saving Gadget #3

    • Thanks for commenting, Caron. I appreciate you stopping by.

      Living a grand life is about making tradeoffs that result in a great but responsible life!

      Gip

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