Nothing is more relaxing and calming than a deep healthy sweat from a sauna bath at the end of a tough day or week. It helps your muscles unwind, and your mind fades away any tension leaving you revived and ready for whatever a new day has in store. Let’s explore Sauna’s Benefits and Disadvantages!
Saunas and heat therapies date back to the Romans, Mayans, and ancient Greeks, who used them for healing and wellness. Today, science agrees that, indeed, sauna has incredible health benefits that everyone should tap into.
What is a Sauna?
Sauna is a room heated to temperatures of between 158° to 212° Fahrenheit, or 70° to 100° Celsius with very low humidity.
The heat is usually produced from a stove or hot rocks. Some can be electrical with heaters attached to the floor and others infrared, where light waves heat your body directly without heating the room.
Sauna is different from steam rooms, which usually contain moist heat with lower temperatures between 110-120° Fahrenheit, or 43-49° Celsius.
The Benefits of Sauna
Regardless of the heating method, saunas offer the same effects on the body.
The high heat causes your skin’s temperature to rise, resulting in sweating. Sweating is one way in which the body filters out toxins. It also cools and regulates body temperature.
Your heart rate also goes up, and your blood vessels dilate, leading to an increase in circulation. All of these occurrences have been associated with health benefits, including
1. Detoxifying the body
Sweating is one of the ways your body gets rid of waste.
Though there is controversy over detoxification through sweat, heavy metals have been found in both urine and sweat, concluding that sweating may actually help you detoxify from heavy metals.
Sweating may also help you get rid of harmful chemicals like BPA, according to researchers. BPA is an industrious chemical present in different products, including plastics such as food containers, bottles, and canned foods. It’s an endocrine disruptor and has been shown to affect the brain, prostate, child development, cause infertility in both men and women, and increase the risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Sweating also helps eliminate excess toxins from your fat cells and eliminate excess salts that might otherwise cause kidney stones.
2. Improving cardiovascular health
Sauna baths may not just feel great but also lower your risk for cardiovascular conditions.
A study conducted in Finland showed that regular sauna baths reduced the risk of dying from cardiovascular-related conditions.
Those that used the sauna 2-3 times a week had a 22% reduced risk of sudden cardiac deaths compared to those that did it once a week.
Those that used the sauna 4-7 times a week had a 50% reduced risk of developing a cardiovascular condition and a 63% reduced risk of sudden cardiac death compared to those who used the sauna once a week.
Sauna is generally associated with improved dilatation of blood vessels and reduced arterial stiffness leading to a drop in blood pressure with improved circulation and cardiovascular function, thus good outcomes for those who use it more frequently.
3. Cleanses the skin
The heat and sweating associated with the sauna rinse out bacteria from your epidermis and sweat ducts.
It also stimulates your sebaceous gland, which works to lubricate the skin and keep it moistened.
Additionally, the sauna improves capillary circulation and helps your skin breathe by unclogging the pores. This helps disinfect the skin since you are often clogged due to oils, pollution, dead skin, and dirt. Getting these out of the way will result in fewer breakouts and promote clear and radiant skin.
4. Reduced stress levels
The heat from sauna improves circulation, relaxes muscles, and stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.
5. Improves pain
Endorphins released during sauna bathing also act as pain relievers. They may help reduce chronic pain, relieve muscle spasms, and improve arthritis and joint stiffness.
In one study, dry sauna significantly reduced pain in patients with lower back pain to the extent that researchers suggested dry sauna therapy as an alternative or complementary option for patients with lower back pain.
6. Improves sleep
The relaxation and stress-relieving effects of the sauna may help you experience deep and more peaceful sleep.
7. Lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s
Researchers from Finland conducted a 20-year study on the effects of sauna on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in healthy men aged 42-60 years of age.
They found that those who used the sauna 2-3 times a week had a 20 and 22 percent reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, respectively than those who had a sauna bath once a week.
Participants who used the sauna 4-7 times a week had a much lower risk with a 65 and 66 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, respectively than those who had a sauna bath once a week.
Disadvantages of Sauna
Fluid loss associated with sweating may induce dehydration. One may experience symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and feeling very thirsty.
To prevent dehydration, ensure proper hydration before and after a sauna bath. Also, avoid prolonged stays in the sauna. You can break your session into two sessions of 10 minutes each with a five-ten minutes break, and keep hydrating during the brakes.
To help cool off, get in the pull or stand in a cold shower before going for another session.
2. Loss of fertility in men
According to research, two 15-minute sauna sessions per week for three months had a negative effect on sperm count; however, they found the effect to be reversible.
More research needs to be done on the same.
Is Sauna for Everyone?
You may want to avoid the sauna in case of one or more of these conditions
- Heart disease
- Alcohol intoxication
- If on any mind-altering drugs
- High or low blood pressure
Saunas were popular during ancient times and still are today because of their health-promoting benefits.
Each moment in a sauna bath may help detoxify your body, improve cardiovascular health, promote skin health, improve sleep, relieve pain, reduce stress levels, and lower your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
However, ensure you are well hydrated as sauna heat may cause dehydration.
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