Why Choose a Sauna for Better Health
Saunas have been around for hundreds of years and this relaxing practice continues to find a place in the health care of many people. Warming the body from the inside out has its benefits as well as an anti-stress therapy, but this is just one of all the wonderful effects.
What does it mean to "go" to the sauna? Staying in a sauna is a form of heat therapy characterized by exposure to high temperature for a short time. Contemporary saunas include a Finnish-style sauna, a Russian bath and a hammam in Turkish style. They differ according to the construction, heat source and humidity level.
Generally speaking, sauna visits are associated with a reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension, as well as neurocognitive disorders and non-vascular conditions, such as lung disease and mental illness. Visiting a sauna also has a wider impact on the skin and rheumatic conditions in humans. Next we will look at the ten most interesting health benefits of sauna, which have been considered in various studies.
10 Great Health Benefits of Sauna
Sauna improves overall health and well-being
Not surprisingly, people who visit the sauna most often share "stress reduction" as the greatest benefit. Studies have shown that most diseases (e.g., heart disease) are at least partially related to stress. Decades of well-done, peer-reviewed medical research for saunas have shown that saunas provide profound health benefits. [ref. 1]
In a 25-year study conducted with more than 2,300 participants at the University of Eastern Finland by Dr. Jari Laukanen and his colleagues, revealed that regular sauna use improved cardiovascular health, along with many other health benefits.
In short, a regular sauna visit is a wonderful addition to the overall plan for health and happiness, which will keep you vital and long-lived.
Sauna improves cardiovascular health
At the high temperatures of a traditional or infrared sauna, the skin is heated and the body temperature rises. In response to these increased levels of heat, the blood vessels near the skin dilate and 'cardiac output/circulation' increases. [ref. 2]
Medical research has shown that heart rate can rise from 60-70 beats per minute to 110-120 beats per minute in the sauna (140-150 beats per minute at a more intense temperature) and can often fall below normal after cooling outside.
Sauna as an anti-stress therapy for people with high levels of stress
Visiting a sauna can be a practical alternative means of preventing illness in individuals with high-stress occupations, as described in one study. [ref. 3] In this study it was found that visiting a sauna can have two types of effects.
First, short exposure to the body in a sauna can lead to short-term (up to 1 hour) benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and improving arterial stiffness. Second, chronic (≥3 weeks) and repeated exposure to sauna heat can regulate several beneficial enzymes and pathways, resulting in greater stress tolerance, a healthier cellular environment, and improved health.
Earlier studies have shown that frequent sauna visits improve tolerance to cellular heat stress, which is associated with a decrease in pro-inflammatory markers and improved insulin sensitivity. And it has also been shown to improve the physical fitness of some people. Taken together, these improvements associated with repeated exposure to heat stress are likely due to a biological process known as hormesis.
Sauna helps to recover after physical activity
Saunas relax muscles and soothe pain in both muscles and joints. With the high heat provided by the sauna, the body releases endorphins, which can reduce pain and are often associated with improved recovery.
After physical activity, you can relax in the heat and steam of the sauna to promote muscle relaxation, helping to reduce muscle tension and eliminating lactic acid and other toxins that may be present.
Sauna improves elimination of toxins
Due to the heat of the sauna, the basal body temperature begins to rise, as it has already become clear. The production of sweat is mainly designed to cool the body and consists of 99% water. However, deep sweating in a sauna can help reduce levels of lead, copper, zinc, nickel, mercury, and chemicals all toxins that are usually only absorbed by interaction with our daily environment, water, food, and cosmetics.
Sauna improves brain health
In the mentioned 25-year study, conducted with more than 2,300 participants at the University of Eastern Finland by Dr. Jari Laukanen and his colleagues, it was revealed that regular use of a sauna (4-7 times a week) at a certain temperature for 19 minutes reduced the risk of both Alzheimer's and the development of dementia. [ref. 4]
Sauna helps fight disease
Several German medical studies have shown that saunas have been able to significantly reduce cold and flu cases among study participants.
Since the body is exposed to the heat of the sauna and steam (in the case of traditional saunas), it produces white blood cells faster, which in turn helps fight disease and helps destroy viruses.
In addition, saunas can relieve the unpleasant symptoms of sinus obstruction from colds or allergies.
Sauna for deeper sleep
Research shows that sauna use can lead to deeper and more restful sleep. In addition to the release of endorphins, the body temperature, which rises late in the evening, falls before bedtime. This slow, relaxing drop in endorphins is key to making it easier to fall asleep. A visit to the sauna can support this process and promote a full night's sleep.
Sauna for skin detoxification
Bathing in hot water is one of the oldest beauty and/or health strategies in terms of cleansing the skin. When the body begins to produce sweat through deep sweating, the skin is cleansed and dead skin cells are replaced keeping the skin in good condition. Sweating also removes bacteria from the epidermal layer and sweat ducts. Pore cleansing has been shown to improve capillary circulation while giving the skin a softer look.
Sauna for reduced joint stiffness and muscle pain
Heat can make muscles more flexible and elastic, so it would probably help with soreness when recovering from exercise. In addition, people with stiff joints and body aches also report that the sauna helps relieve pain.
Using a sauna can also help relax these tissues, reducing the tension and stress that can cause them to shrink or inflammation.
Contraindications for visiting the sauna
Despite all the great benefits listed, the sauna is not suitable for absolutely all people.
The dry heat in the sauna, which can reach 85°C, has a serious effect on the body. The temperature of the skin rises to about 40 degrees in minutes. The average person will throw out half a liter of sweat during a short stay in the sauna. The pulse jumps by 30% or more, allowing the heart to almost double the amount of blood it pumps every minute. Most of the extra blood flow is directed to the skin; In fact, blood circulation diverts blood from internal organs.
Blood pressure is unpredictable, rising in some people, but falling in others. Therefore, visiting a sauna is not recommended for people with blood pressure problems, be it high or low.
Here are some common contraindications and warnings to keep in mind when visiting a sauna:
- Avoid alcohol and medications that can worsen sweating and lead to overheating before and after a sauna.
- Stay in the sauna no more than 15-20 minutes.
- Cool the body gradually afterwards.
- Drink two to four glasses of lukewarm water after each entry into the sauna.
- Do not go to the sauna if you are sick, and if you feel unwell during the sauna, it is better to leave the room.