Health Benefits Of Sauna- For thousands of years and even till today, many people use a sauna. It helps to induce relaxation and leaves you feeling refreshed. That is not the only benefit of it. Saunas and steam rooms make you sweat, which is excellent for your body. For so long, sweating has been noted as a therapeutic process.
Harvard Health Publications affirm that 3,000 years ago, the Mayans who occupied some parts of Mexico and Central America used sweat houses. For thousands of years in Finland, saunas have become popular, and statistics show that 1 in 3 Finns still use them.
In the US, statistics show that there are over a million saunas in use. This not only shows the popularity of it, but also the effectiveness of saunas.
In this article, you will find the many health benefits of sauna. While it is beneficial for improving cardiovascular health as though you are working out and helping you relax, it may not be suitable for everyone.
This is especially true for pregnant women and those who do drink alcohol often. Check with a medical practitioner before using it.
What Is A Sauna?
Pronounced as “Sow-Nah,” a sauna is a room heated to a degree between 70 to 100-degree Celcius or 158 to 212 degree Fahrenheit. Traditional Finnish versions of it typically use dry heat, which is between 10-20 percent of relative humidity. Other sauna types use a higher moisture level.
In a sauna, skin temperature levels can increase to about 40-degree Celsius or 104-degree Fahrenheit. When this happens, the body begins to sweat heavily, and the heart rate also rises in an attempt to cool the body. Hence, it is not unpopular to lose about one pint of sweat during a short sauna session.
Types Of Saunas
Saunas can be categorized based on the level of heat in the room. Here are the various classifications of sauna available:
- Steam Rooms: Also known as Turkish Bath, these rooms use high humidity and moist heat instead of dry heat.
- Wood Burning: Here, wood is used to heat the sauna room and sauna rocks. Wood-burning saunas typically have high-temperature levels and are low in humidity.
- Electrically Heated Rooms: Just like wood-burning saunas, electrically heated sauna rooms also have high-temperature levels and are low in humidity. Here, an electrical heater is attached to the floor, which heats the sauna room.
- Infrared Room: Far-infrared-saunas completely differ from electrically-heated and wood-burning saunas. They use unique lamps that heat a person’s body through light waves. These lamps do not heat the entire room. In an infrared cabin, the temperature is usually lower than other sauna types as it is generally about a 60-degree Celcius. However, the body still sweats the same way.
10 Health Benefits of Sauna For Weight Loss
Saunas have been proven by research to aid weight loss. The effect of the sauna is comparable to that of a moderate-intensity workout. This implies that you are doing an exercise without leaving a spot.
Here are other health benefits of sauna for weight loss:
1. Lowers Water Weight
Of your total body weight, water weight can take up to 5 pounds. With a restricted diet and varying workout routine, it can take up to a week to get rid of water weight. This is where a sauna session comes in.
On its own, sauna helps to remove excess water volume in the body by making you sweat heavily. That is, in one session, you can lose excess water weight, meaning that you drop a few pounds in a day or two.
Note that Saunas only help to remove water weight and has no real effect on body weight.
2. Boosts Stamina
If you are prone to feel out of breath quickly during workout sessions or stair climbs, you need to try the sauna. Sauna tackles the problem by boosting breathing capacity, increasing respiratory function, and facilitating the production of vasodilator nitric oxides. It also relieves respiratory challenges.
A study posits that runners experience an improvement in their running time, endurance, or stamina by 32% after sauna bathing sessions.
Patients with asthma may find relief from specific symptoms because of the frequent use of a sauna. This is because saunas help to reduce stress, open up airways, and loosen phlegm.
3. Reduces Cholesterol
When subjects had a sauna session every other day for 20 days, there was an observed reduction in their total cholesterol level.
The researchers also concluded that
The sauna offers cholesterol benefits that are similar to what a session of moderate-intensity physical exercise affords.
However, this does not mean that you should forgo your regular workout routine altogether as sauna sessions are not a replacement for proper exercise.
4. Improves Metabolism Rate
A regular sauna session lowers stress levels, reduces inflammation, and flushes toxins. All of these factors enhance the rate of body metabolism. Spending a few hours in a sauna bath will rev up your metabolism rate, leading to weight loss.
5. Acts As A Detoxifier
The heat of the sauna makes you sweat more, effectively ridding you of toxins. People who do not work out regularly or stay all day indoors in a low-temperature condition will especially find this healthy.
Sweating also helps to flushed heavy metals that the body absorbs from the food you eat. These include mercury, zinc, copper, and nickel. After which the body is prone to losing weight as fat is effectively lost.
6. Relieves Pain
Many users recommend using a sauna as a natural pain reliever.
Research backs this up. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine investigated the effectiveness of sauna for pain relief and the treatment of the symptoms of chronic tension-type headaches that occur over 15 days monthly.
The study shows that after eight weeks of sauna sessions, 37 subjects had a significant improvement in the intensity of headache. While the review was a small scale one, the results infer that going in for regular sauna sessions is a simple way to relieve chronic pain in several parts of the body.
7. Improves Brain Function
A publication in the Journal of Age and Ageing showed that men who had multiple sauna sessions weekly had a 65 percent reduction in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than those who did once weekly.
This was connected to an increase in the rate of blood flow to the brain, affirming that sauna sessions can boost brain function. The research makes sense as previous studies have linked a reduced flow of blood to the brain with dementia and cognitive decline.
8. Aids Muscle Function
Several athletic people use the sauna for muscle recovery after an exerting workout or strenuous activities. A study shows that doing a sauna session before exercises can help to boost muscle function and lower impaired sensory reactions.
9. Improves Blood Pressure
According to the American Heart Association, over half of Americans experience high blood pressure at some point in their lives. However, a study in the Journal of Human Hypertension suggests that a single sauna session can reduce blood pressure.
In the study, 100 participants took turns sitting in a sauna room for 30 minutes each. Immediately after their sessions, they were examined. It was discovered that their systolic blood pressure reduced from 137 mmHg to 130 mmHg, while their average diastolic blood pressure went from 82 mmHg to 75 mmHg.
Also, their systolic blood pressure stayed low for up to 30 minutes post-sauna. Researchers suggest that this benefits long-term blood pressure. The sauna works because the heat dilates blood vessels, causing blood flow to be faster and better timed.
Note: Before using a sauna, for this reason, consult a medical doctor. This is because people who suffer from high blood pressure and other heart-related issues are often advised to forgo sauna sessions.
10. Improves Heart Rate
Last on the list of health benefits of sauna is that it boosts your heart rate. A published study in the Journal of Human Hypertension asserts that men and women heart rate increases after a sauna session. The increase is as though they just performed a medium-intensity exercise like cycling, jogging, or hiking.
Other research from the University of Finland connects a reduction in the risk of early death from stroke, heart attack, or cardiovascular diseases to sauna sessions.
The researchers also found out that the more the men went to the sauna, and the longer they stayed over 20 years, the lower the risk of fatal cardiovascular disease or sudden cardiac health.
Although this doesn’t mean you should stop workout altogether, it means that a few minutes of heat can work your heart.
While there are many health benefits of sauna, it is also necessary that you follow the care below to avoid any potential side effect of using a sauna. Here are precautionary measures to take:
1. Do Not Take Alcohol: Drinking alcohol places you at risk of arrhythmia, dehydration, hypotension, and sudden death.
Studies on Finnish citizens who experienced sudden death revealed that in 1.8 percent of these cases, they had a sauna session 3 hours before their death or in the last 24 hours of their lives. It was also discovered that they drank alcohol.
2. Drink A Lot of Water: Regardless of the type of sauna you use, you must replace the body fluids lost during each session. Hence, the need to drink two to four glasses of water after using a sauna. Adding a pinch of salt to drinking water before and after each session helps to rebalance electrolyte session.
3. Don’t Use Sauna If Ill: Avoid going to a sauna if you are ill, instead, wait until you have recovered. Also, pregnant women and those with medical conditions like low blood pressure should speak to a doctor before using a sauna.
4. Supervise Children: Children aged 6 and above can use the sauna under the strict supervision of an adult. Although they should not spend more than 15 minutes in the room at a go.
5. Limit time spent in a sauna: For each sauna session, do not spend more than 20 minutes at a time. First-timers should spend between 5-10 minutes before slowly increasing the time to 20 minutes.
6. Incorporate Workouts: While the sauna helps lose fat, it does not affect the muscles. So, you will need to do strength workout to build well-toned muscles. The plus side is that the sauna increases stamina, making cardio or strength training easier to perform.
Doing a sauna session is a great way to lose weight. Apart from weight loss, there are also varying health benefits of sauna. Still, there is a need to eat healthily and do cardio and strength training to improve muscle tone and boost strength.
Go for a sauna session today to enjoy health!