Feeds

Do we really need a daily shower or bath to stay healthy?

Or are the techies the smartest of us all?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Also in this week's column:

Do we really need a daily shower or bath to stay healthy?

Asked by Sarah Murdoch and Karl Stefanovic Today, Nine TV Network, Sydney, Australia

One of the most widely held myths of modern society is that we humans need to shower or take a bath each day (or even more often than that) for good health.

In modern industrial society today we shower and otherwise bathe for mostly social and aesthetic reasons rather than for those of health. The general rule of thumb is: "If you can stand it socially, you can probably get by hygienically." But in saying this, it must be stressed that bathing is necessary as one can get skin diseases and worse from not bathing at all. But the "one per day" frequency of showers and baths is somewhat unnecessary.

Our great grandparents, our grandparents, and perhaps even our parents probably showered or bathed less often than we do now. It was not so many decades ago when entire families routinely bathed in a common bathtub once a week. Families were larger then, so if you were fifth or sixth in the tub - you can imagine.

Standards in the degree of tolerance of body smells emanating from ourselves and others were different then compared to those of today. The advent of indoor plumbing boosted rates of bathing. It also boosted standards of laundry cleanliness. The one (or more) bathroom(s) and the one washing machine per home made cleanliness convenient to average people for the first time in human history. Cultural expectations shifted, especially over the last century or so to demand a cleaner population - ourselves and others.

Yet still today, nations and cultures differ as to the expectations of bathing. Many factors impinge on this behavior: Amount of readily available water (desert countries often have water restrictions), availability of bathing facilities (much of the world does not have easy access to a private bathroom), occupation (physical labour versus office work), lifestyle (the more athletic, the more showers), season of the year (more bathing in hot summer weather than in cold winter weather), age (teenagers bathe most frequently, the elderly least frequently), religion, other cultural beliefs, etc.

Who are the cleanest people on Earth?

The title of "cleanest people on earth" may go to the Australians. However, research is difficult to come by on this point.

According to an October 2006 survey of 400 people conducted by EnergyAustralia (the supplier of electricity for much of Australia), every Australian takes at least one shower each day. Specifically, "62 per cent of people showered once a day, 29 per cent twice a day, and nine per cent showered three times a day".

These figures imply that no Australian goes more than a day without a shower. This is arguably the highest rate of national showering anywhere in the world and qualifies Australians as the cleanest people on Earth. The survey also found that women take slightly longer showers than men (but only less than a minute more) and teenagers take longer showers than people over age 40. Any arguments?

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.