Regular thermal therapy may promote insulin sensitivity while boosting expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase--effects comparable to those of exercise training

Med Hypotheses. 2009 Jul;73(1):103-5. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2008.12.020. Epub 2009 Feb 8.


Regular thermal therapy, using saunas or hot baths, has the potential to improve impaired insulin sensitivity and boost endothelial expression of the "constitutive" isoform of nitric oxide synthase--effects, analogous to those of aerobic training that should promote vascular health. Previous clinical reports suggest that hot tubs may be beneficial for diabetic control, and that sauna therapy can decrease blood pressure in essential hypertension and provide symptomatic benefit in congestive heart failure. For those who lack ready access to a sauna or communal hot tub, regular hot baths at home may suffice as practical thermal therapy. Thermal therapy might be viewed as an alternative to exercise training in patients too physically impaired for significant aerobic activity.

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / physiology
  • HSP72 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced / methods*
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III / metabolism*


  • HSP72 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III