Saunas: Healthy Or Harmful?

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Do saunas promote health?

Saunas have been around for thousands of years, originating in Finland. Other forms of heat bathing have been used to break that sweat barrier for ages, like hot tubs, Turkish steam bath and Roman baths. The sauna stands out in its uniqueness of using dry heat. The idea of a sauna is to essentially create a self-induced fever by increasing the room’s air temperature between 150 and 185 degrees, thereby increasing the body’s temperature, which usually stays lower than 100 degrees. In doing this, research has shown there are promising health benefits to using a sauna.

  • Better workout recovery

    While perspiring in the sauna, you will experience loosened muscles and sore joints will likely be relieved. This promotes better body recovery after exercise. 

  • Lower Blood Pressure

    Studies have shown that just 30 minutes in the sauna relaxes arteries and exercises blood vessels enough to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. This, in turn, decreases risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases.

  • Boost Brain Health

    Time in a sauna has been shown to induce relaxation in those with depression and anxiety, decrease stress, and lowers risk of development of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. 

  • Reducing Chronic Pain

    Saunas appear to reduce chronic inflammation levels in the body. It has been shown to be a reprieve for headaches and musculoskeletal disorders.

  • Serve + Protect

    Studies have shown that visits to the sauna can improve lung function and reduce risk of colds and pneumonia. Traditional saunas allow patrons to adjust the humidity of the room, which can be beneficial when needing to breath moist air when feeling congested.

  • Promotes weight loss

    The high heat promotes sweating and an increased heart rate. This mimics the act of moderate intensity workouts. However, most weight lost after use of a sauna is water weight, and may be regained after re-hydrating. Although weight loss may be a benefit, this is not means to bypass exercise--there is no true replacement for healthy eating and exercise.

Practicing Sauna Safety

A few simple measures for sauna safety that are important for healthy people and heart patients alike:

  • Avoid alcohol before or after your sauna.

  • Don't overdo it; 15 to 20 minutes of a sauna is a reasonable time limit for most people.

  • Cool down gradually afterward.

  • Drink 2 to 4 glasses of cool water after each sauna. It is important to re-hydrate after sweating and prolonged heat.

Sauna use has been shown to have healthy benefits, however, more research needs to be done as to what specifically is the result of the sauna versus other variables. One of the most beneficial things that comes from sauna use is the relaxation and stress relief it promotes. So, on these chilly winter days, if you’re feeling like you need a breather and want to stay warm, hit both with a trip to the hot sauna and enjoy its soothing effects.

Posted on February 15, 2019 .