The world’s oldest man says hot springs are his secret – here’s why they’re so good for you
Humans are always on the hunt for the secrets to a long and happy life, and while we all know that eating a healthy diet will add a few extra years to the clock, the world’s oldest man chalks up his impressive age to a rather more unusual ritual.
112-year-old Masazo Nonaka, who was born on 25 July 1905, says bathing in natural hot springs in his native country, Japan, is the reason he’s managed to live for more than a century.
The super centenarian runs a hot springs inn with his family in Japan’s naturally blessed Hokkaido, where he regularly soaks in the mineral-rich baths while catching up on the day’s headlines.
“He needs a wheelchair to move but he is in good condition,” his granddaughter Yuko Nonaka said as he received his Guinness World Record this week. “He reads newspapers every day and often soaks in the hot springs.”
The healing benefits of hot springs have been touted for thousands of years; these natural wonders occur when geothermally heated groundwater bubbles up from the Earth’s crust.
There are geothermal springs across the world and many of them you’ll probably recognise from Instagram; Pamukkale in Turkey and the Blue Lagoon in Iceland are some of the most selfie-friendly. But you don’t have to go far to experience the benefits – there are plenty of hot springs dotted around the UK, including Bath, Buxton and the Derbyshire Dales.
So aside from some good old-fashioned relaxation, what’s so hot about hot springs? Here are just a few reasons to go for a soak…
1. Aids blood circulation
Nothing gets the blood pumping quite like a hot bath. When you ease yourself into a hot spring, the sodium bicarbonate and calcium in the naturally warm waters increases circulation, allowing oxygen to flow more freely through the bloodstream. Blood circulation is one of the most important functions in the body, supplying oxygen to the brain and promoting healthier skin and cell growth.
2. Relieves aches and pains
Got sore shoulders? Time to get bathing… Hot baths expand the blood vessels in painful areas, allowing the healing properties within the blood to be delivered, as well as relaxing tension in the muscles. A study published in the journal Rheumatology International even found that steaming in a hot mineral bath can help relieve aches related to arthritis and fibromyalgia.
3. Clears up skin conditions
As well as giving you a shiny mane to rival a luxury hair advert, submerging yourself in hot springs can work wonders for your skin. The high silica content found in spring waters acts an anti-inflammatory, helping to relieve painful and itchy skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
4. Busts colds
Forget nasal sprays and paracetamol, the natural steam rising from the water alongside the high sulphur content makes hot springs a free and totally natural cold remedy. Inhaling the hot vapour is a great way to clear up irritating nasal and chest congestion, leaving your airways clear. Just try not to sneeze on your fellow bathers…
And a final tip? Always check with your GP before you decide to give natural spring bathing a go – the temperatures can get pretty toasty, which can make it a particular safety risk if you’re pregnant, elderly, suffer from cardiovascular problems or have another serious illness.
The Press Association
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