Forming a part of the Ring of Fire that circles the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is home to a healthy amount of geothermal activity. Along with a number of active volcanoes, we’re also served a more soothing form of subterranean heat: hot springs.
Soaking in the warm and mineral-rich waters found in hot springs (or hot pools) has been proven to deliver a number of health benefits: improving general health and happiness, enhancing cardiovascular health, and soothing skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and acne.
In New Zealand the opportunities to soak in these healing waters are many and varied: Rotorua and the Taupō volcanic zone, Hot Water Beach in Coromandel, and the hot pools at the base of Franz Josef Glacier are just a few of the dozens of famous springs and spas that attract visitors from all over the world.
But what effects do these warm and mineral-rich waters actually have on the human body? And could you enjoy all the perks of hot springs without having to drive hours to your nearest geothermal spa? Read on to find out.
What are hot springs?
Hot springs, also known as hot pools or geothermal springs, are bodies of water that are found on the surface of earth, but that are warmed by the internal heat found beneath the crust. This heat is generated in two main ways: by the presence of hot molten rock close to the surface, or from water that is sent deep within the earth’s crust and circulates through cracks and faults.
These forms of geothermal activity not only serve to heat the water, they also give it another unique characteristic: high concentrations of sulphur, chloride, silica and iron dissolve into the H2O, making it mineral rich.
It’s this combination of warmth and minerality that gives hot springs their unique healing qualities which have been recognised for millennia, dating as far back as the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Back home, Māori knew of the soothing nature of hot springs too.
What are the health benefits of hot springs?
What exactly are the healing qualities of hot springs? Modern science is beginning to pull back the curtain on the secrets of these waters. Here’s what has been revealed.
Soothing the symptoms of chronic skin conditions
The warm and mineral-rich waters offered up by hot springs have been shown to help soothe persistent skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema and acne. While it’s important to note that hot springs treat the symptoms of these conditions rather than the cause, the relief from feelings of dryness, itchiness, pain and irritation can be significant. These effects are particularly noticeable in sulphur and silica-rich waters.
Immersing yourself in warm water triggers a couple of key physiological responses. Blood vessels widen and your heart pumps more blood, which results in more oxygen and mineral-rich blood being delivered to the parts of your body that need it. The benefits of this heightened cardiovascular activity are many and varied: according to this review, bathing in warm water can promote better circulation, regulate blood pressure, increase cardiac output and even improve your metabolism.
Pain relief and mobility
The waters of a hot spring can even have a light analgesic effect. People living with chronic pain may find that soaking in a hot spring can ease their discomfort. This effect, combined with the buoyancy of the water, can also help to promote movement in those with limited mobility, such as the elderly and sufferers of arthritis.
Feelings of health and happiness
You step into the waters of a hot spring, and instantly feel happier and more relaxed. It’s not just a feeling – this study found a connection between bathing in naturally occurring hot springs and general health and happiness, so not only do hot springs feel good for you, they are good for you!
How long should you soak in hot springs?
You may feel as though you could soak in the luxurious waters of a hot spring forever, and if you’re comfortable with having rather wrinkly looking fingertips, that may well be the case. But the reality is that there’s one limiting factor that determines the length of your soak: the heat of the water.
The internal temperature of the human body sits at approximately 37C. If you soak in hot spring water that is hotter, your body has no way to rid itself of excess heat. If you stay in water >37C water for long enough it can cause serious harm, so extreme caution should be exercised in waters this hot.
If the temperature of the water is comfortably below 37C, a daily soak of 10-15 minutes is generally seen as the best way to get all the health and wellness benefits you can from the water. But doing so daily will be difficult for most Kiwis who don’t have easy access to a hot spring.
Unless, that is, you just happen to have a hot spring sitting a few steps from your own back door. And thanks to Hot Spring spa pools, you can enjoy exactly that.
A Hot Spring in your own backyard
Named after the relaxing, soothing, life-giving pools offered up by Mother Nature, Hot Spring spa pools have been designed to serve up these healing waters in the comfort of Kiwi backyards.
Hot Spring spa pools bring a similar range of health and wellness benefits to naturally occurring hot springs, while offering a wealth of other benefits:
- Comfort, control: Precisely set your temperature to a safe and luxurious level, and enjoy the water from the comfort of a contoured seat or lounge that can even come with a built-in pillow. In a Hot Spring spa pool you can also adjust jets, entertainment systems, water quality and more!
- Convenience: Don’t drive for hours just to battle the crowds – enjoy an on-tap and perfectly private experience instead. NZ’s most energy efficient spa pool, your Hot Spring is designed to be left on – it can be powered for as little as $1 a day!
- Hydromassage: You won’t find any hydromassage jets in a geothermal pool, but you will in a Hot Spring spa pool. Enjoy high-end and fully customisable hydromassage delivered in the form of powerful and carefully crafted streams.
- Entertainment: A soak in a Hot Spring spa pool is a truly immersive experience. Along with the warm and healing waters, you’ll bask in the glow of stunning lighting systems, enjoy fountains and water features, and be able to set the mood with optional entertainment systems.
A regular soak isn’t just an indulgent experience, it’s good for you too. And thanks to Hot Spring, it’s never been easier to inject this health and wellness into your life. If you’re considering becoming the proud owner of a Hot Spring spa pool, get in touch with your local dealer or book a test soak today.