This content originally appeared on LinkedIn on November 23, 2019 and has been republished with permission.
People all over the country rave about how their gym now has a sauna, or how they just got a sauna installed in their home. They say it has health benefits, but are these claims backed by science?
Should you hop on this sauna train, or is it just another fad? Let’s dive in and see how the usage of saunas began.
Well, the sauna was invented in 1112 A.D in Finland. It is a room that heats up to around 150 degrees Fahrenheit. It became popular in the United States around 1950 when the electric sauna was invented. This bit of the Finnish culture may have good reasoning behind it and might be why we picked up this practice.
Did you ever think that sitting in a hot room could help not only one aspect of your health, but multiple? Medical studies have shown that going for a quick trip to the sauna can benefit your body in more ways than you know.
What are the Benefits of the Sauna?
Numerous medical studies have shown how saunas are beneficial to you and your well-being.
Saunas Reduce Stress
Taking time out of your day to sit in a quiet sauna can help relieve some tension and reduce your stress. Studies have shown that using the sauna regularly can reduce cortisol levels (the body’s primary stress hormone). Going into the sauna may also help with anxiety by letting both your mind and body unwind. Allowing your body to relax with the help of the sauna’s heat can put your body into a deeper relaxation mode. Who doesn’t want to start their day feeling less stressed?
Saunas Improve Heart Health
Individuals who had at least one coronary risk factor saw the positive effects of the sauna on their heart health. Those individuals who used far-infrared (FAR) sauna for only 15 minutes a day, with 30 minutes of bed rest for two weeks, had a significantly lower blood pressure than those who didn’t go to the sauna.
Studies have also shown that those who undergo coronary bypass surgery can benefit from saunas as well. They showed that going to the sauna only twice a week helped to decrease their blood pressure– which is ideal for recovering.
Saunas Soothe Aches and Pains from Physical Activity
Imagine you just pumped out an awesome high-intensity workout and your feeling great. But you know in a couple of minutes you’ll start feeling the all too familiar side effects of muscle soreness and cramping for a day (or two!). Saunas can be a great activity to add after those tough exercises.
Mist saunas after working out can help recover from muscle fatigue, letting your body restore faster so you can get back to your next workout sooner. It may do this by increasing blood flow, which allows oxygen to reach those overworked cells and enables them to refresh. Saunas can also reduce the oxidative stress levels that are induced by aerobic exercises.
Saunas Remove Toxins From Your Body
Deep sweating can help our bodies get rid of toxins that accumulated over time. A good detox can be useful for your cells and overall health. When you use a sauna, your blood heats up and signals your sweat glands to produce sweat. With a deep sweat, not only does water get released with your sweat, but heavy metals and pesticides can mobilize and come out of the skin as well.
Saunas Aid in Deeper Sleep
Going to the sauna a couple times a week can help your body go into a deeper sleep at night, and we all know what a good night’s rest can do for us! Saunas can help us feel sleepier at bedtime and can help our brains increase the amount of slow-wave sleep, also known as deep sleep.
Saunas Clean Your Skin
When you sweat, your pores open, allowing dirt -that leads to blackheads and acne- to be eliminated easily. When you sweat, you can wash off the grim on your skin. Just a simple rinse can do the trick, or a simple organic wash can help clean your skin as well. Avoid using a lot of chemicals on your face after the sauna, as you’d just be adding more of the chemicals that you just detoxified!
How Long Should You Stay In The Sauna?
Sauna sessions should last about 20 minutes. After your hot session, you’ll need to let your body cool off for a couple minutes (about 20 minutes). Getting a cold shower or jumping into a refreshing cool pool may even enhance your health benefits as well. As long as your body agrees with it, you can use the sauna daily if you’d like.
Different Kinds of Saunas
- Dry Sauna
- Wet sauna (add a little water to allow steam in the sauna)
- Infrared Sauna: This heats up your body and penetrates your cells. However, you don’t feel the heat as much compared to a regular dry or wet sauna.
- Wood-Burning Sauna
- Sweat Lodge
Incorporating the sauna into your everyday morning routine can give you a fresh start to the day. You’ll feel relaxed and restored, walking into work like a new person! Adding it to your nighttime routine can help you erase the stresses of the workday and unwind.
Even using the sauna on a weekly basis can give you some great health benefits. Along with other healthy lifestyle behaviors, this practice can make your body feel even better than you could imagine.
Dr. Bob Harding, based in Austin, Texas, specializes in Longevity and Performance Medicine.
Dr. Harding isn’t your average doctor. His Optimization Medical Program can unlock your full potential, so you can live life the way you’re supposed to … fully! He personalizes your care by getting to know your genetics, biomarkers, lifestyle behaviors, and other health factors that are specific to you.
The content within this post is meant for informational purposes only and should not be considered a replacement for personalized advice from your physician. Visit livhealth.com to learn how our team of health professionals can help you achieve optimal health.