When you sit in a sauna, your skin temperature rises, your pulse rate elevates, and your blood vessels become more dilated. At the same time, your heart begins to pump more blood, and of course, you also begin to sweat. This process can help ease tension, relax muscles, and refresh your mind. But there are also medical benefits to using a sauna, and more and more doctors are recommending its purifying benefits. Here are several of the medical benefits of a sauna.
Improves cardiovascular performance
- A sauna’s heat relaxes your muscles, improves circulation, and stimulates the release of endorphins.
- Reduces risk of fatal cardiac incidents (heart attacks). Reports show that using sauna two to three times per week at 174°F reduces risk of Fatal Cardiovascular Disease by 27% and four to seven times per week reduces risk by 50%.
- Reduces risk of hypertension (high blood pressure). A three-month study of bi-weekly sauna use showed reduced occurrence of high blood pressure.
- Long-term sauna use, combined with aerobic exercise, are associated with improved arterial compliance, meaning the arteries are healthier and better able to handle additional stresses.
- Sauna use increases the heart rate similar to aerobic exercise with the heart rate ranging between 120-150 beats per minute.
Aids in recovery after intense physical activity
- Saunas relax muscles and soothe aches/pains in both muscles and joints.
- Under a sauna’s heat, the body releases endorphins,which can have a mild, enjoyable “tranquilizing effect” and the ability to minimize the pain of arthritis and muscle soreness.
- Your body temperature rises, causing blood vessels to dilate, therefore increasing blood circulation. This increased blood flow in turn speeds up the body’s natural healing process via soothing aches and pains and/or speeding up of the healing of minor bruises or cuts.
- Saunas promote muscle relaxation by helping to reduce muscle tension and eliminate lactic acid and/or other toxins that may be present.
- Regular sauna use may also benefit strength training through improved recovery and muscle growth through the increased growth hormones. A University of Iowa study showed that growth hormone increases by 200-300% after a single sauna use, which helps with reducing muscle atrophy.
- Three-weeks of post-exercise sauna bathing increased run time to exhaustion by 32% in male distance runners.
- Deep sweating has multiple proven health benefits. As heat from the blood begins to move toward the skin’s surface and sweat glands become stimulated, they produce sweat. Sweating in a sauna can help reduce levels of lead, copper, zinc, nickel, mercury, and other chemicals, which are all toxins commonly absorbed just from interacting with our daily environments. Many doctors agree that saunas are one of the best ways to detoxify our bodies.
Reduces incidences of Alzheimer’s by 65%
- A 20-year study conducted with more than 2,300 participants at the University of Eastern Finland by Dr. Jari Laukkanen and various colleagues revealed that regular sauna use (four to seven times per week) at 176°F for 19 minutes lowered the risk for both Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The control group for the study seldom, if ever, used sauna (0-1 times per week).
- Saunas help the body and mind adapt to stress and thus reduces the risk of depression and other mental disorders. The improved cardio respiratory fitness also contributes to the therapeutic effects of sauna for depression and anxiety.
Induces a Deeper Sleep
- Research indicates that sauna users can experience a deeper, more relaxed sleep after bathing the the calming heat of a sauna. While saunas can help release endorphins, your body temperature, which becomes elevated in the late evening, typically falls at bedtime. This slow, relaxing decline in endorphins is key in facilitating sleep.
- German sauna medical research shows that saunas were able to significantly reduce the number of colds and influenza among participants. As a body’s temperature rises in a sauna, it produces white blood cells more rapidly, which in turn helps to fight illnesses and helps to kill viruses. Saunas can also help relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of sinus congestion from colds or allergies especially when used with steam (and eucalyptus can be added to the water for added benefit). The steam vapor action helps to clear up unwanted congestion.
Cleanses The Skin
- When the body begins to produce sweat via deep sweating, the skin is then cleansed and dead skin cells are replaced, keeping your skin in good care. Sweating rinses bacteria out of the epidermal layer and sweat ducts, thus cleansing pores to improve the capillary circulation while giving the skin a softer-looking quality.
- While we wouldn’t call saunas an end-all weight loss tool, saunas are one way to burn some additional calories. The sweating process itself requires a notable amount of energy, which is derived from the conversion of fat and carbohydrates in a bodily process that burns up calories. According to U.S. Army medical research (Ward Dean, M.D.), a moderately conditioned person can easily sweat off 500 grams in a sauna in a single session, consuming nearly 300 calories in the process. The body consumes said calories due to the acceleration of heart activity (the cardiovascular section). As heart activity increases and as these processes demand more oxygen, the body begins to convert more calories into usable energy.
Brings Good Feelings
- Whether it’s the physiological changes you experience during the warmth of a sauna, or whether it’s simply the time spent in the calming and still retreat of the sauna, bathing in a sauna feels good. Everyone needs and deserves a little time during our busy, stressful everyday lives to enjoy a sauna retreat. It helps us relax and restore body and soul.
If you’d like to learn more about what a sauna can do for you and check out the many types of saunas we have in stock, give us a call today or stop by one of our locations and we’ll talk you through the right sauna for your needs.