Warmth, even taken to an extreme, tends to have a soothing effect on all of us. You’ll find few who will argue against the sauna benefits of relaxation. Are there benefits that go beyond that relaxation? Numerous studies indicated that there are.
In this article, we are going to take a look at the top 12 sauna benefits way beyond simple relaxation, show studies that back up those claims and look at some notes of caution about the use of saunas for improving your overall health and wellness.
What Is a Sauna?
A sauna is a room that is specifically designed as a sealed enclosure, which allows people to sit inside and dramatically increase their body temperature to the point of perspiration. Saunas are a form of hyperthermia treatment, which have been proven to have a number of health benefits.
A sauna, as opposed to a steam bath, uses either warm air, in traditional saunas, or infrared light as heat sources to warm objects that radiate and maintain temperatures of between 158º F (70º C) and 212º F (100º C). The resulting rise in external temperature brings the skin surface of the body up to about 104º F (40º C). This rise in body temperature induces perspiration as well as a number of other benefits we will be considering.
Indigenous tribes in the Americas typically used saunas or sweat lodges as a part of religious rituals of cleansing. Archeological sites in Greenland and Newfoundland also indicated the use of saunas, which most archeologists use to point to Nordic settlement of those areas. The Scandinavian countries, especially Finland, kept the Nordic tradition of sauna usage alive throughout Europe and their later popularity caused them to be revived in the Americas as well.
Types of Traditional Saunas
Traditional saunas use warm air to raise the temperature of the enclosure or room. That warm air is obtained through two different forms: stored heat or continuous heat. Stored heat saunas preheat stones within the closure and then remove the source of heating them before bathing. Continuous heat saunas continue to heat stones via a firebox or electric heater.
Infrared saunas are a modern variation of the traditional sauna. Infrared saunas make use of radiated heat to warm the surface of the skin with the use of infrared light in place of air convection or conduction of traditional saunas. Some of the benefits below come from the use of infrared saunas as well as traditional saunas.
Top 12 Sauna Benefits Way Beyond Simple Relaxation
1. Improves Heart Health
One of the major sauna benefits is a reduced risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, which was documented by a 2015 study in Finland.
2. Joint Pain Relief
RA sufferers are will be thrilled to learn that joint pain relief is another item on our list of top sauna benefits according to a Dutch study.
3. Muscle Enduance
A number of Olympic athletes have discovered that a sauna benefits in performance and muscle endurance. Some are wondering if saunas are the new performance enhancing drug.
4. Flushed Toxins
Dr. Clement of the Hippocrates Health Institute indicates that we ought to look toward sauna benefits for the removal of heavy metal toxins in our bodies.
5. Skin Cleansing
Using perspiration to open pores and allow your skin to cleanse itself of toxins, which affect the function of your body’s largest organ (your skin), is another of our top sauna benefits to consider.
7. Better Sleep
Better sleep is one of the more obvious sauna benefits due to the fact that saunas tend to help you relax. Inability to relax is a major factor in sleeping disorders.
8. Reduce Colds and Flu
The reduction of the incidence of common colds and flu, according to a study at the University of Vienna in Austria, is another of our top sauna benefits that can have a major effect on just about everyone.
9. Metabolism Boost
You can’t actually sweat off pounds in a sauna, but the 20 to 30 minute period of intense heat does help give your metabolism a boost. That’s just one more of our top sauna benefits.
10. Conditions and Moisturizes Hair
Another of our top sauna benefits involves adding vitality and shine to your hair. Opening up the pores in your scalp allows the sebaceous glands to release natural moisturizers and conditioners for your hair.
11. Boosts HGH Production
The absence or deficiency of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) in our bodies has been proven to be a factor in a number of health conditions. Studies also show that another item on the long list of sauna benefits is a boost in our body’s production of HGH.
12. Faster Workout Recovery
Along with increasing muscle endurance, another of the sauna benefits on our list is the way that a sauna helps your body flush lactic acid from your muscles, which leads to faster workout recovery.
13. Increased Insulin Sensitivity
Studies also indicate that another of the top sauna benefits is in the way that a sauna can help increased insulin sensitivity.
A Note of Caution
Department of Internal Medicine and Biocenter at the University of Oulu in Finland provides a list of counter indications for using a sauna in its study of sauna benefits and risks. Most people, including pregnant women, are indicated to have little to no negative reaction to sauna bathing. Here are the conditions that can be negatively affected:
- unstable angina pectoris.
- recent myocardial infarction.
- severe aortic stenosis.
- alcohol consumption should be avoided because it increases the risk of hypotension, arrhythmia, and can cause sudden death.
In addition to these negative side effects, persons using a sauna should make certain that they drink plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated from excessive perspiration.
Wrapping It Up
Relaxing in a sauna certainly helps reduce stress, which in turn has its own benefits. However, we’ve shown how sauna benefits go way beyond simple relaxation. Hyperthermia treatments using various types of saunas are becoming increasingly more common as our understanding of how the body functions increases and as researchers continue to look beyond pharmaceutical solutions to health and wellness.
Image sources: depositphotos.com.