Saunas have existed for centuries. Saunas have grown in popularity over the years as a result of their numerous scientifically proven benefits. Regular sauna use has been linked to improved heart and mental health, pain relief, and relaxation.
For the most part, sauna use is risk-free. However, there are some people who should avoid or consult with their doctor before using one.
Saunas have long been a part of many cultures, from Turkish baths to Native American sweat lodges to Russian banyas. In Finland, where saunas are ingrained in the culture, there are 2 million saunas for every 5 million people!
A sauna is a wood-filled room that is heated to temperatures ranging from 80°C to 100°C. Pouring water on hot rocks inside the sauna can also add humidity. However, it is usually a dry heat (less than 20% humidity), which is very different from a steam room. Infrared saunas, a newer type of sauna, are becoming increasingly popular.
If you’ve ever used a sauna, you know how hot it can get in there. Your heart begins to beat faster, your skin becomes sticky, and you may even feel as if you’re exercising without moving your body. And, like exercise, there is a lot of research to suggest that regular sauna use has long-term health benefits.
Sauna bathing, like many other health trends, appears to be gaining popularity. Saunas are becoming more popular in homes and gyms. Memberships for heat and sauna therapy are even available in standalone locations. Here, we are discussing the benefits of Sauna.
Regular sauna bathers have reported the following:
Read more: Weight loss is not synonymous to fat loss, know the difference here
- Improved life quality
- Muscle soreness recovery
- Weight loss and increased metabolism
- Muscle and joint pain is reduced
- Skin health and anti-aging advantages
- Sleep Improvement Stress Reduction
- Overall unwinding
What are the scientifically proven advantages of sauna use?
Bathing in a sauna may be more than just a relaxing experience. It has some well-documented advantages:
- Better cardiovascular health
- Reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s
- Chronic pain relief for people suffering from conditions such as fibromyalgia and low back pain
- Depression symptoms have improved
- Reduced likelihood of developing psychosis
- Mild breathing improvements for people with asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Psoriasis skin scales are reduced.
- Reduced inflammation and cortisol (the stress hormone) levels
- Sweat excretion of toxins and heavy metals
- Stroke risk is reduced
- Reduced headache intensity in those who suffer from frequent headaches
- Fewer colds and viral infections
Beneficial for Heart Health:
A lot of research shows that regular sauna bathing is good for the heart and cardiovascular system. A sauna may have an effect on the cells, arteries, and nervous system, all of which can have an impact on heart health.
Sauna use was associated with a 63% lower risk of sudden cardiac death in one study of men in Finland. The benefits appear to be greatest when used frequently — for more than 20 minutes per session, at least four times per week.
The following are some of the heart-related benefits of regular sauna bathing:
- It can improve symptoms and increase exercise tolerance in people with heart failure.
- Daily sauna use can improve the amount of oxygen flowing to the heart muscle in people with coronary artery disease (CAD). This can lower the likelihood of dying from this type of heart disease.
- Saunas can help people with hypertension lower their blood pressure. It can also reduce the risk of developing hypertension later in life in people who do not have it now.
- Despite the fact that a sauna session temporarily raises heart rate and blood pressure (similar to an exercise session), research shows that it has a long-term benefit of lowering blood pressure.
- Walking endurance has improved in people with peripheral artery disease, which restricts blood flow to the lower extremities.
- The overall cholesterol profile has improved.
When you combine regular sauna use with physical exercise, the benefits can be even greater.
Can saunas aid in weight loss?
You may have noticed that you’re a few pounds lighter on the scale after a sauna session. This is most likely due to water weight loss from sweating. Water weight loss is not long-term.
More research is needed to determine whether saunas can aid in weight loss. Increased body heat may help boost your metabolism and burn more calories. This is the same concept as hot yoga. Because your body has to work harder to cool down in the heat, you burn more calories. However, there hasn’t been enough research done to determine the long-term effects of regular sauna use on weight loss. As a result, experts do not recommend using saunas as a weight-loss strategy.
Who should stay away from saunas?
The sauna is generally well tolerated by most people. Unpleasant symptoms such as claustrophobia or heat intolerance may occur in some people. Both of these, however, may improve with repeated sauna use. However, there are some people who should avoid using saunas, such as:
- Those who suffer heart attack recently or experienced a recent stroke
- Those who have chest pain caused by heart disease (angina pectoris)
- People with Aortic stenosis that is severe (a narrowing of a major heart valve)
- Persons facing Heart failure that is advanced or poorly controlled
- Women undergoing pregnancy, because it can result in birth defects
Who should consult health professionals before going for sauna?
Read more: Room heaters can harmfully affect your health; here are few tips to make yourself safe
Additionally, some people should consult with their expert before using a sauna, including:
- People concerned about male infertility: Evidence suggests that regular sauna use reduces sperm production. Fortunately, once someone stops using saunas, this effect is reversed.
- People with CAD, heart failure, or high blood pressure: Some people with heart conditions may experience symptoms such as chest pain or dizziness due to high or low blood pressure. In addition, a small study found a link between CAD and a higher risk of serious heart problems. Despite the fact that the researchers noted that the majority of negative effects occurred in sauna users who had also consumed alcohol.
- Everyone, including those who are healthy or have underlying conditions, should avoid drinking alcohol while bathing in a sauna. Sauna bathing is generally considered safe, even for those with pre-existing conditions.
If you want to try it, start slowly and gradually work your way up to regular sauna use as your body adjusts to the heat. If you have any recent health issues or chronic medical conditions, you should consult your provider before beginning to use a sauna.