For hundreds of years, saunas have been touted around the world for what it can do for one’s health.
It’s only recently, though, that saunas gained the spotlight in many wellness centers and spa hotels where health-conscious people frequent.
If you haven’t experienced a sauna session yet, maybe it’s time you do. Many people are fascinated about its health benefits, and we’ll tell you why in this post.
Discover how a regular sauna session can help detoxify your body, lower your stress levels, speed up your recovery time, boost your mental performance, plus so much more!
You may be wondering if a sauna has adverse effects, too. So, we’ve also included potential risks associated with sauna so you can be properly informed of both its perks and dangers.
Benefits of Heat Exposure in Sauna
If you’re wondering if you should make sauna a staple in your wellness plans, read on. Here’s a list of why saunas are good for your health and wellness:
1. It detoxifies your body
One of the most prized uses and benefits of sauna is body detox. Sweating in a sauna is a simple yet effective way of getting rid of toxins and heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic.
A systematic review of studies found that all of these toxic compounds are found in human sweat. The review concluded that sweating has potential in detoxifying the body
Also, an infrared sauna and niacin detox protocol was found to help reduce mercury and lead levels in the body and increase HDL or good cholesterol.
2. It speeds up your recovery time and reduces pain
Are your muscles in dire need of recovery after your intense workout session? Saunas might be of help, too! Some animal studies showed that heat exposure reduces the rate of muscle wasting.
In another study, the heat was found to reduce oxidative stress, and enhance the rate of muscle regrowth following immobility.
If you’re looking to reduce the intensity of your headache, you might consider sauna sessions, too.
One study found that chronic tension headache sufferers who received sauna treatment experienced lower pain.
The study, thus, concluded that regular sauna bathing may be an effective treatment for minimizing pain intensity in people with chronic tension-type headache.
3. It boosts heart health
A regular sauna session may also help protect your heart.
One study found that those who frequently used sauna reduced their risk of sudden cardiac death, coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality.
In a separate study, patients with chronic heart failure also showed an improvement in their cardiac function following Waon therapy, sauna-like hyperthermia therapy.
The sauna was also found to be beneficial for patients with chronic systolic congestive heart failure.
Another research suggested that sauna may be a safe, and effective therapy for chronic systolic CHF patients as it helped enhance symptoms and exercise tolerance.
4. It decreases stress levels
Looking for a way to unload your stress from a tiring day? Perhaps you should give the sauna a try.
One study showed that repeated thermal therapy significantly improved chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbance, and pain.
The enhanced symptoms were noted after 15 to 25 sessions of thermal therapy using the far-infrared dry sauna at 60 degrees Celsius.
Another research found that cancer patients had improved depression symptoms and enhanced vigor following whole-body heat therapy.
While heat exposure exhibits favorable effects, it is essential to note that a sauna session can be stressful, especially if you are not used to warmer temperatures.
Just like you need sufficient training before performing an intense workout, you also need to allow your body to adapt and recover first before exposing it to extreme temperatures.
5. It reduces blood pressure
Regular sauna sessions also help to lower blood pressure.
One study found that repeated sauna therapy significantly decreased systolic blood pressure. The findings suggest that sauna may protect against oxidative damage, and prevent the risk of atherosclerosis.
In another research, it was discovered that sauna therapy also significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure at rest, and during dynamic exercise.
6. It enhances your heat tolerance
Regular exposure to heat will help improve your tolerance in higher temperatures.
Another study showed that infrared sauna was well-tolerated by patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. And there were no reports of adverse effects nor disease aggravation after the treatment.
7. It enhances athletic performance
Now it becomes clearer why saunas are popular among athletes: it helps improve athletic performance, too.
One study showed that male runners who took sauna baths had increased run time to exhaustion, and blood volume. The research concluded that sauna bathing improves endurance running performance.
8. It lowers blood sugar
Sauna may also help reduce your blood sugar levels. One study conducted on diabetic rats showed that those treated with whole-body hyperthermia significantly decreased their fasting blood glucose levels.
This positive effect was observed after the diabetic rats received 30 minutes of hyperthermic treatment three times a week over a 12-week period.
The research concluded that whole body hyperthermia may provide a preventive effect against type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance syndrome.
9. It aids in fat loss
Want to lose those stubborn fats? Apparently, the sauna can help your weight loss efforts, too.
Thermal therapy such as sauna and the warm water bath was also found to help obese patients. One study discovered that obese patients significantly decreased their body weight and fat after two weeks of sauna therapy.
The findings suggest that sauna therapy may be used as a promising therapy for lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia.
10. It boosts your immune system
Studies also suggest that regular sauna sessions may help boost your immunity. Sauna bathing was found to increase white blood cells, neutrophil, basophil, and lymphocyte counts.
These results suggest that sauna can stimulate the immune system to a higher degree, particularly in athletes.
Another study assessed the frequency, duration, and severity of common colds in 25 volunteers. The study discovered that those in the sauna group experienced fewer common colds compared with the control group.
The research concluded that regular sauna bathing may assist in lessening the incidence of common colds. However, further studies are encouraged to solidify these findings.
What are the Risks Associated with Sauna?
While it’s great to know that the sauna has tons of amazing health perks, it’s natural to ask too if it has potential risks as well, given its high temperature. Below are the potential health risks linked to the sauna:
One of the most common risks of sauna bathing is dehydration. But with a few precautions, it can be easily avoided.
Exposure to heat makes you sweat. And while sweating in a sauna has been associated with health perks too, you have to make sure that your body is well-hydrated not just prior but after your sauna session as well.
Drinking a glass of water or two is typically recommended for a normal sauna session, which usually runs no longer than 15 minutes.
Hypovolemic shock is a life-threatening condition, which is a result of combined dehydration and blood loss.
This emergency condition happens when your blood volume and pressure drop to very low levels that your body’s tissues no longer receives the oxygen they need for survival.
Mild symptoms of hypovolemic shock include a headache, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, and profuse sweating. If you feel any of these symptoms, simply leave the sauna, cool down, and rehydrate.
Exposure to higher temperatures also increases your risk of heat stroke, so remember not to overdo your sauna baths. While it shows promising health benefits, staying too long may also lead to adverse effects.
If you feel dizzy and nauseous, exit the sauna then cool yourself down. Hydration is very important in times like this, so don’t forget to chug water.
Some Tips to Keep in Mind
Before you book your sauna session, it is essential to know a do’s and don’ts. If you have a sauna session already set, remember to nix the booze.
Alcohol consumption, especially if it’s excessive, may leave you feeling extra dehydrated. So, instead of chugging booze, drink up on water instead. Consuming more water than usual is advised before a sauna session.
Also, don’t forget to give your body ample time to cool down. A five to 15-minute cooldown may do the trick already. A cold shower may also do you good. Wearing breathable clothes after your sauna visit is also advised.
Sauna baths just might be the newest addition you’re looking for in your regular wellness routine. Its benefits are truly promising and encouraging, so you might as well give it a try.
If you have certain medical conditions, though, it’s best to see your doctor first and ask for a green light. Heat exposure may worsen some conditions so it’s highly recommended to seek professional advice.
It also pays to do some research first if you’re new to the experience. Plus, it helps to ask your friends who have already tried sauna baths for tips. And remember to hydrate yourself and not overdo it.