Benefits of Sauna

September 19th, 2017

Benefits of Sauna

9/19/2017

by Miranda Murray


When was the last time you could experience multiple health benefits by simply doing nothing?!  Imagine a room from which you emerge feeling relaxed, pain-free, and healthy.  Allow me to introduce sauna.

There are three types of sauna: Finnish, Turkish, and Infrared.  Finnish saunas are dry while Turkish saunas have lots of steam.  Either way, they will be heated to temperatures between 150° and 195° F.  Infrared saunas, on the other hand, are a more mild type of sauna in which light waves from specially designed lamps will warm your body to about 140° F without heating up the room.

Although temperatures and styles vary, the health benefits are virtually the same.

Health Benefits of Sauna

Stress Relief – There are so many health problems and diseases that can present themselves as a result of too much stress – it can physically impact our bodies.  The warm and quiet atmosphere of the sauna is the perfect setting to relax and relieve stress.  The heat will relax your muscles, improve circulation and stimulate the release of those feel-good chemicals called endorphins.

Improves Circulation and Lowers Blood Pressure – The heat of the sauna causes the blood vessels to dilate, thus increasing blood circulation.  This improved circulation can lead to lowered blood pressure and a healthier heart!  Some people who enjoy sauna also release the hormone called aldosterone.  Aldosterone is responsible for regulating blood pressure, when it is released while sitting in the sauna, it can result in lowering high blood pressure.

Relaxes Muscles and Soothes Aches and Pains – Through the enjoyable and euphoric feelings we experience when our bodies release endorphins, our body’s ability to minimize pain is heightened.  Those who perform intense physical workouts or those who may suffer from arthritis or other muscle soreness can expect increased blood flow and circulation while sitting in the sauna.  This will, in turn, promote the body’s natural healing process.  It’s often recommended to use saunas after participating in sports and gym activity because the heat and/or steam from the sauna will reduce muscle tension and help to reduce lactic acid build-up.

Fights Illness – When the body is exposed to heat in the sauna setting, the production of white blood cells is increased.  This helps to kill viruses and fight infection.  The sauna has been shown to drastically reduce your chances of catching a cold or the flu.  What’s more, if you are sick, the sauna will help to reduce symptoms of a cold and allergies by warming the mucus membranes which helps to break up congestion, especially in a steam sauna.  Take caution though, do not use sauna if you have a fever; this could dangerously increase your body temperature to an unsafe level.

Improved Cardiovascular Performance – In the high temperatures of the sauna, our skin heats up and core body temperature rises.  This causes the blood vessels near the skin to dilate and our cardiac output increases.  The heart rate can rise up to 120 beats per minute, all the while dropping to below average bpm once you begin to cool off.  Using sauna on a regular basis will “train” our heart muscles and improve regular heart rate.  This effect is similar to the effects of moderate exercise.  (Always consult with your doctor before hand if you have a heart condition.)

Sauna alone probably won’t help much with weight-loss, but with regular diet and exercise, sauna will heighten your healthy lifestyle!

Cleanses the Skin – when you sweat, the skin is cleansed and bacteria is swept out of the epidermal layer and sweat ducts.  You will notice a fresh faced and clean feeling after a sauna session!

Risks and Precautions

The biggest risk of sauna use is dehydration; be absolutely adamant on drinking lots of water!  It’s recommended to start by sitting in the sauna for about 5 minutes and build up from there.  Most experts say not to exceed longer than 15 minutes, as sitting in there too long could be harmful to your kidneys (due to dehydration.)  Once again, if you have a fever, do not sit in the sauna – that could be dangerous.

So, if your gym offers this amenity, don’t be afraid to go in there and sweat a little…or a lot!

-Miranda M

*I am not a doctor, nutritionist or scientist but I have spent the past 4 years soaking up information I’ve gathered through various websites, by attending numerous informational meetings and working with nutritionists and fitness trainers. 

Sources: Authority Nutrition, Finnleo

 

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