Put simply: each activity can offer some respite from a bad mood. It turns out there’s a pretty good scientific reason why and it’s got to do with our core body temperature.
A recent study published in New Scientist this week concluded that taking regular afternoon baths attributes to a moderate but persistent lift in mood among people with depression. What’s more? The effect was greater than that of hitting the gym or going for a run – a more established mood booster.
A group of researchers conducted, an albeit tiny, study at the University of Freiburg in Germany. They assigned 45 participants with depression with the task of soaking 40C water for up to 30 minutes and then wrapping themselves in blankets and hot water bottles for a further 20 minutes or taking 40 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise twice a week.
After 8 weeks the participants who were taking baths averaged a six-point elevation in their mood while those completing exercise scored a three-point increase, on a regularly used depression scale.
The theory goes, by increasing participants’ temperatures at night their cardiac rhythms which affect every organ, including the brain, are strengthened and synchronised. Previous studies suggest that depressed people have a biochemistry, which is associated with flatter variation levels in their temperature.
It’s important to note that those who participated in the study did so, in conjunction with their doctors' ongoing treatment and advice. If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit Lifeline.