Saunas have been used for thousands of years for relaxation and health purposes. But what are the benefits of sauna usage and how can they improve your well-being? In this blog post, we will explore some of the evidence-based benefits of sauna usage and how you can incorporate them into your lifestyle.
What is a sauna?
A sauna is a room or a cabin that is heated to a high temperature, usually between 70°C to 100°C (158°F to 212°F). There are different types of saunas, depending on how they are heated and the level of humidity. Some common types are:
- Wood-burning sauna: This type of sauna uses wood to heat the room and the rocks. It has low humidity and high temperature.
- Electrically-heated sauna: This type of sauna uses an electric heater to heat the room. It also has low humidity and high temperature.
- Infrared sauna: This type of sauna uses special lamps that emit infrared light waves to heat the body directly, not the room. It has lower temperature and low humidity.
- Steam room: This is not technically a sauna, but a room that uses moist heat and high humidity.
What are the benefits of sauna usage?
Sauna usage can have various benefits for your health and wellness, such as:
- Improving cardiovascular health: Sauna usage can increase your heart rate and blood circulation, similar to moderate exercise¹². This can help lower blood pressure, improve heart function, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases³⁴.
- Relieving pain and inflammation: Sauna usage can help relax your muscles and joints, ease tension, and reduce inflammation²⁵. This can be beneficial for people with chronic pain, arthritis, or muscle soreness.
- Enhancing skin health: Sauna usage can help cleanse your pores, remove dead skin cells, and improve skin elasticity²⁵. This can result in smoother, clearer, and younger-looking skin.
- Boosting mood and mental health: Sauna usage can help release endorphins, the natural chemicals that make you feel good²⁵. This can improve your mood, reduce stress, and promote relaxation. Sauna usage may also help with depression and anxiety by lowering cortisol levels and increasing serotonin levels.
- Supporting detoxification: Sauna usage can make you sweat profusely, which can help flush out toxins, impurities, and excess fluids from your body²⁵. This can improve your kidney function, liver function, and immune system.
- Increasing longevity: As sauna usage can benefit heart health and lower inflammation, it may also lead to increased longevity. Not only do saunas help lower the risk of heart disease, but they also appear to reduce the risk of all-cause mortality⁴.
How to use a sauna safely?
Sauna usage is generally safe for most people, but there are some precautions you should take before and after using a sauna. Here are some tips to use a sauna safely:
- Consult your doctor: If you have any medical conditions or are pregnant, you should consult your doctor before using a sauna. Some conditions that may make sauna usage unsafe are uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart disease, or respiratory problems¹.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs: You should avoid drinking alcohol or taking any medications that may impair your sweating or cause overheating before or after using a sauna¹. Alcohol can dehydrate you and increase your risk of heat stroke. Some drugs may also interfere with your body’s ability to regulate temperature or blood pressure.
- Stay hydrated: You should drink plenty of water before, during, and after using a sauna to prevent dehydration¹. You may lose up to a pint of sweat during a short session in a sauna, so you need to replenish your fluids. You can also drink electrolyte drinks or coconut water to restore your electrolyte balance.
- Limit your time: You should not stay in a sauna for more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time¹. You can take breaks between sessions to cool down gradually. If you feel dizzy, nauseous, or unwell at any point, you should leave the sauna immediately.
- Clean yourself before and after: You should shower or wash yourself before and after using a sauna. This will help remove any dirt, oil, or bacteria from your skin and prevent infections. It will also help cool you down and refresh you after a sauna session.
To conclude, sauna usage can have many benefits for your health and wellness, such as improving cardiovascular health, relieving pain and inflammation, enhancing skin health, boosting mood and mental health, supporting detoxification, and increasing longevity. However, sauna usage is not for everyone, and you should consult your doctor before using a sauna if you have any medical conditions or are pregnant. You should also follow some safety tips to use a sauna safely, such as avoiding alcohol and drugs, staying hydrated, limiting your time, wearing loose clothing or nothing at all, and cleaning yourself before and after. Sauna usage can be a relaxing and rewarding experience that can improve your quality of life. Why not give it a try?
Source: Conversation with Bing, 10/5/2023
(1) 6 Benefits of Using the Sauna After Working Out – Men’s Health. https://www.menshealth.com/health/a38071136/sauna-benefits/.
(2) Sauna Health Benefits: Are saunas healthy or harmful?. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/saunas-and-your-health.
(3) Sauna: Health benefits, risks, and precautions – Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313109.
(4) 10 Sauna Benefits for Your Health & Wellness – Food Revolution Network. https://foodrevolution.org/blog/sauna-benefits/.
(5) Are Saunas Good for You? What to Know – Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/are-saunas-good-for-you.