Sauna Health Benefits
IMPROVE OVERALL HEALTH, WELLNESS AND PERFORMANCE
It’s not surprising that stress reduction is the primary reason why people use saunas. Research has shown that a significant amount of diseases, including heart disease, are linked to stress. Decades of well-conducted and peer-reviewed studies have demonstrated the many health benefits of sauna use. For example, a 25-year study led by Dr. Jari Laukkanen and his team at the University of Eastern Finland, which involved over 2,300 participants, found that regular sauna use improves cardiovascular health and offers other health benefits. In conclusion, incorporating regular sauna sessions into your overall health and wellness plan can be a beneficial and enjoyable addition.
SAUNAS IMPROVES HEART HEALTH
When you are in a traditional or infrared sauna, your skin and core body temperature rises due to the high temperatures. To counteract this increase in heat, the blood vessels close to the skin widen and there is an increase in “cardiac output/circulation.” Medical studies have shown that during sauna use, the heart rate can increase from 60-70 beats per minute to 110-120 beats per minute (and can even reach 140-150 beats per minute with more intense bathing), before returning to below normal levels after the cooling-off period. Regularly using a sauna has been shown to decrease the risk of overall mortality, fatal cardiac incidents, stroke, and hypertension.
“A 2015 study published in JAMA found that long-term, frequent sauna use (over 20 years, four to seven times a week) was associated with a reduced risk of several heart issues, including sudden cardiac death, fatal coronary heart disease, fatal cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality.”
AID IN RECOVERY AFTER EXERCISE
Saunas have the ability to relax muscles and alleviate muscle and joint pain. The high heat in a sauna prompts the release of endorphins, which can reduce pain, similar to the sensation of a “runner’s high.” As the body temperature increases in the sauna, blood vessels widen, leading to improved blood circulation, which helps to speed up the body’s natural healing process. After physical activity, sauna’s heat and steam can help with muscle relaxation by decreasing muscle tension and getting rid of lactic acid and other toxins.
“Regular sauna use may also help reduce inflammation, according to research. A study found that those who engaged in regular sauna use had lower levels of the inflammatory marker CRP.”
SAUNAS FLUSH TOXINS
As the heat in the sauna increases, the core body temperature rises. Sweating is the body’s way of cooling itself and is mostly composed of 99% water. However, heavy sweating in a sauna can help lower the levels of various toxins such as lead, copper, zinc, nickel, mercury and other chemicals, which can be absorbed from exposure to our everyday environments.
“A sauna is an excellent way to flush out various toxins that collect in the fat cells of the body. When you sit in a sauna, you excrete a massive amount of perspiration. This high level of sweating is important because it eliminates one-third of the toxins from the kidneys. Additionally, unwanted waste products are removed from the body when you sweat.”
IMPROVES BRAIN HEALTH
Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland found a link between sauna visits and memory diseases after following more than 2,300 middle-aged Finnish men for more than 20 years.
In the study, men who went to the sauna four to seven times a week were found 66 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia, and 65 percent less likely with Alzheimer’s disease, than those taking a sauna once a week.
The Alzheimer’s Association includes sweating as an important way to improve brain health: https://www.alz.org/help-support/brain_health/10_ways_to_love_your_brain
SAUNAS RELIEVE STRESS
The heat of the sauna promotes relaxation and regulates the levels of cortisol in the bloodstream. Cortisol is a hormone that is released during stress, and high levels of cortisol can lead to various health problems, including issues with the immune system and sleep. Sauna bathing lowers cortisol levels and promotes the production of serotonin, which is commonly known as the “feel-good hormone” that enhances feelings of well-being.
HELP FIGHT ILLNESS
According to research conducted in Germany, saunas have been shown to greatly decrease the occurrences of colds and influenza among participants. The body produces white blood cells more quickly when exposed to the heat and steam of a sauna, which aids in fighting illnesses and viruses. Saunas also alleviate the unpleasant symptoms of sinus congestion caused by colds or allergies.
SAUNAS INDUCE A DEEPER SLEEP
Sauna use has been shown to promote deeper and more relaxed sleep through the release of endorphins and the lowering of body temperature at bedtime. The gradual decline in endorphins, coupled with the calming heat of the sauna, leads to an overall enhancement of the sleep experience for sauna bathers worldwide.
HELPS CLEANSE SKIN
Heat bathing, such as in a sauna, is a traditional method of enhancing the appearance and health of the skin. Through deep sweating, the body is able to cleanse the skin by shedding dead skin cells and eliminating bacteria from the epidermis and sweat ducts. This process improves capillary circulation and leaves the skin looking softer and smoother.
SAUNAS HELP BURN ADDITIONAL CALORIES
It’s not uncommon for some sauna sellers to make exaggerated claims about saunas as a weight loss solution. While it’s true that saunas can lead to some initial calorie burn, particularly for people who are not in good shape, it’s important to understand that saunas should be viewed as just one tool in a broader weight loss strategy. The sweating process alone can burn calories as it requires energy. This energy is derived from the conversion of fat and carbohydrates in the body, which in turn burns calories.
Research by the US Army Medical Research (Ward Dean, MD) stated that “a moderately conditioned person can sweat off around 500 grams in a sauna session, burning around 300 calories in the process.” This happens as heart rate increases, the body needs more oxygen which converts the calories into energy.
A sauna not only feels good, it’s good for your body. Whether it’s the physiological changes that occur during the warmth of a sauna, or if it’s simply the time spent in the calming and still retreat of the sauna, every seasoned sauna bather agrees – it feels wonderful! As we progress through our stressful everyday lives, the sauna provides a pampering retreat – where we can relax and restore body and soul. Sauna bathing truly makes you “Feel Better”, “Look Better” and “Sleep Better”!
RECREATIONAL AND SOCIAL BENEFITS
While the social benefit is rarely talked about, it’s actually quite important. The sauna can be a private, personal area of relaxation and solitude. However, it can just as easily be a relaxing environment for socializing with family, friends and soon-to-be friends. The sauna room environment is conducive to open, intimate and quiet conversation.