Hot Tubs and Warm Weather Makes Us Happy
Sitting in a hot tub or on a sunbaked beach can lift your mood – but how?
There’s good evidence that physical warmth has an antidepressant effect. In fact, researchers are testing whole-body heating chambers as a possible treatment for major depression. You may be able to reap some of the same benefits by simply stepping outside on a warm day or renting a hot tub.
Dr. Lowry, PhD, Associate Professor of Integrative Physiology and a member of the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder says: Exposure to warm temperature stimuli that aren’t painfully or unpleasantly hot can elevate a person’s mood. This has been observed in clinical settings. And it also happens in the spring, when the onset of warm weather after a cold winter helps account for the mood lift seen in “spring fever.”
The key physiological mechanisms underlying this effect aren’t certain yet. However, we believe that warming of the skin increases electrical signals in sensory neurons. These neurons relay signals to the spinal cord, and neurons in the spinal cord then pass along the signals to the brain.
The result is activation of brain areas that process pleasant stimulation, such as the medial orbitofrontal cortex. Activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex is low in depression, but it’s increased by warm stimulation in a way this is correlated with perceived pleasantness. Simply put, warming the skin makes people feel good emotionally.
If you decide to rent a hot tub, just know you're in for a boost of happiness!!