A trip to a hot springs is virtually never a disappointment. How many things in life can you say that about? Alright, you can stop counting now. Why is it that such a simple thing like hot water in a pool makes a person feel so much better? Here goes the answers:
A drive into the woods takes us away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Immediately stress starts to diminish and that's just the beginning of the story. Some hot springs require a trip in and others are road side, so once you get to the end of the drive, your adventure can go a few different directions. Personally, I prefer the harder to get to hot springs as substantially less people venture to these. Cross-country ski into the hot springs and odds are that you'll have them to yourself! Whatever method you use to get to the springs, you will likely be rewarded once you get there. The moment you submerge yourself into water that is warmer than your internal core temperature, you know that you've got something good going on! You're typically out in the wilderness, free from insecure judgment by your common man to boot! The question as to why hot water is beneficial has been pondered for centuries (maybe millenniums) and some have presumed that you sweat out toxins, but even that has more or less been proven wrong. Here's my "theory." When you raise the internal core temperature in any fashion, the body goes into cooling mode, increasing circulation to every part of the body in an attempt to get the heat to the skin surface and release the excess heat into the environment around the body. Circulation is key to keeping the body functioning properly. The bodies goal is to get nutrients into all sections of the body to make sure that the cells tasks are completed as scheduled. During our day-to-day life, we have a tendency to over and under emphasize various parts of our bodies. If you sit at a desk all day, your butt gets too much pressure on it and fresh blood isn't pumped in enough. If you stand all day at your job (i.e. hair dresser), the blood in your legs has a tough time pumping back up to your heart often enough to keep up. The list of examples goes on and on; even your job probably fits in there somewhere. When you sit in a hot springs, the muscles of your body aren't being taxed, but circulation kicks up big time! Big win situation if your body is beat up in any way. It would even be a win for people who aren't stressed (have you ever met any of those?) as there's no limit to how much increased circulation helps the body function better.
There's one other method that a hot springs soak may be beneficial to the body. It's an off-shoot theory of the toxins theory. Think of it this way, when your white blood cells can't fight off some sort of infection and your body knows that it's getting tanked, what's the next line of defense? It forces everything out however it can! Fever, tossing cookies, diarrhea... all the things we don't like, but eventually fight off danger and we (usually) survive. What could hot springs have in common with any of that?! A fever increases our internal core temperature and increases circulation which helps boot out the offender. A hot spring increases our internal core temperature and increases circulation which helps boot out the offender. Basically, when we aren't sick, we don't have some huge amount of offenders to begin with, but getting rid of whatever may be in your system feels good anyways. It's similar to getting a massage when your body isn't sore. Sure it feels good, but a massage does the job waaay better when you are sore.
Increasing circulation is a win-win no matter what situation your body is in. Sure, there's lots of ways to increase circulation (saunas and hot tubs come to mind), but how could it get better than sitting out in the woods away from society in mineral water?! Workouts increase circulation and even make your muscles function better, but there comes a point when the muscles need to recover. When that point comes, how's about a trip to some hot springs?
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