Sweating is good for your overall health, and while exercise is what many see as the main activity you can do to sweat, it's not the only one. Having a sauna session is another that provides a myriad of health benefits. It's a practice that has been a part of many cultures for hundreds of years.
Such benefits a sauna offers do not just come from tradition's hearsay, but several studies have also backed up several claims. How can going into a sauna help you attain better health? Read on to learn about the benefits of saunas and how they can possibly save your life.
What Is a Sauna?
Saunas are rooms that use dry heat to up the temperature, usually between 180°F and 195°F. Since it uses dry heat, the room has low humidity, making it feel like an oven. To make the experience a bit more comfortable, people usually pour water onto heated rocks in saunas to create a bit of steam and have some humidity.
There are several types of saunas you may encounter. In the U.S., there are electric, infrared, steam, and wood-burning saunas, although the latter is not that common.
Infrared saunas are becoming increasingly popular nowadays. Instead of heating the space, infrared uses light waves to warm your body up directly.
6 Benefits of Sweating in a Sauna
1. Helps with Cardiovascular Health
Several studies have revealed that saunas can help improve one's cardiovascular health in several ways.
One way it may help is by relaxing the body. It's also liked to lower blood pressure and improve heart function.
Studies have backed up the possibility of using the sauna for better cardiovascular health. Others even indicate that doing so can save lives.
One study in Finland observed men between the ages of 42 to 60 for over two decades. The study suggested that those who use a sauna may have a lower risk of dying due to cardiovascular issues.
According to the study, the participants who used the sauna twice or three times a week were 22% less likely to pass away due to sudden cardiac death than those who only used the facility once a week.
Meanwhile, people who used it four to seven times weekly were 63% less likely to suffer sudden cardiac death than those who used it once a week. The same group is also 50-% less likely to succumb to complications due to cardiovascular diseases.
While the research revealed promising results, do note that going to the sauna should not replace exercise to keep your cardiovascular system healthy.
2. Helps with Relaxation
Many people traditionally go to saunas to relax. Your body releases the stress it has thanks to the heat's effects on your body.
First, several things happen in your circulatory system while in the sauna. Your heart rate increases, and the blood vessels throughout your body dilate. With this, the rate of blood flow increases, improving circulation.
Second, the heat makes your nervous system more active by keeping your body temperature balanced. Along with this, your endocrine glands are also involved in making a response.
Your body's response results in feeling more alert and having a lower perception of pain. On top of this, the heat also causes tense muscles to relax.
3. Helps Reduce Pain
Since using the sauna improves circulation, it also helps reduce tension in joints and muscles. As such, being in a sauna can help reduce the pain you feel, especially in cases of chronic pain and arthritis.
Based on a 2008 study, in the course of four weeks, participants suffering long-term muscle and bone-related diseases, such as arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, found improvements in the pain and fatigue they felt following a sauna session.
4. Helps Improve Skin Health for Some
Spending some time in the sauna can also help improve a person's skin health, and it can do so in several ways.
First, studies have indicated that some people with psoriasis experienced reduced symptoms after sauna sessions.
Second, sweating from the sauna can also help clear out your pores.
Although, this doesn't apply to everyone, particularly those suffering from other serious skin conditions. Unlike people with psoriasis, those with eczema and atopic dermatitis should refrain from the sauna as it may aggravate their symptoms.
5. Helps Improve Your Immune System
Did you know that sweating in the sauna can help boost your immune system?
When you're exposed to the heat from a sauna, your body releases shock protein from the rising temperature. This helps prompt antigen-presenting cells and cytokines to be released, essentially improving the immune system through stimulation.
Additionally, while in the sauna, blood vessels dilate, promoting better blood circulation. This also means white blood cells travel better, making running throughout one's body easier.
6. Helps Improve Your Mental Health
Regular sessions at the sauna also help in improving one's mental health. The sauna causes one's body to relax. Just by feeling relaxed and releasing the tension, one can experience a boost in mood.
However, besides helping provide physical relaxation, a sauna is generally quiet and where one can spend some time meditating. Regular meditation helps reduce overall stress making it a great way to boost one's mental health.
Can Anyone Enjoy the Sauna?
While most healthy individuals can enjoy sauna sessions regularly, not everyone is recommended to use them. Some individuals with certain health conditions are advised to avoid it. These groups of people include:
- People with established cardiovascular health issues
- People with seizure disorders
- Older individuals aged 65 and up.
- Children aged 7 and under
- Pregnant women
These groups may encounter more harm than benefits if they use the sauna. These dangers may include aggravating already established health disorders, heat strokes, dehydration, and fainting.
Sauna Safety Precautions
Before entering the sauna, keep in mind some of these precautions.
- Limit your stay. Staying in a high-temperature space may cause a multitude of issues, including dehydration, dizziness, fainting, or even a heat stroke. Keep your sessions between 5 to 30 minutes only.
- Avoid drinking alcohol before a sauna session. Alcohol increases a person's risk of experiencing dehydration, which is something you'd want to avoid while in a sauna.
- Make sure to drink water before using the sauna. Because of the high heat, you'll sweat more than usual while in the sauna. Dehydration is one drawback you want to avoid while in the sauna, so drink plenty of water beforehand.
Sweating Saves Lives
Sweating is a natural function the body uses to regulate temperature and is healthy. While exercise is the preferred way to sweat among many, saunas also provide a slew of health benefits for an individual. It could help save lives from the threat of cardiovascular diseases.
Saunas shouldn't replace exercise but, instead, complement it. Want to experience the benefits of sweating in the sauna? Try it out and experience it for yourself!