Since centuries ago, Finns have harnessed the enjoyment and health benefits of saunas more than anyone else. Almost all of the inhabitants of Finland take part in sauna activities on a near-weekly basis.
Individuals in various nations, including the US, are beginning to learn about the advantages of using a sauna, such as advantages to wellbeing and beauty, and are making “saunaing” a part of their way of life.
What exactly are saunas and why should you give them a try?
What is a Sauna?
Saunas are tiny spaces that are warmed to a temperature of 65-90° Celsius (150-195° Fahrenheit). They often have unpainted wood interiors and temperature controls. Imagine a cabin situated in a forest, throw in a heat source and a few chairs or benches, and you’ll have the scene.
The objective of a sauna is to heat up your body. Saunas can be used in a number of ways. Some people prefer to use the sauna right after their workout or gym session, while others think it is better to enjoy the sauna in a luxurious spa setting while on a holiday.
Under the guidance of a medical professional, some may use them for medical purposes.
Powerful Sauna Health Benefits
In addition to providing a soothing, restorative experience, researchers are beginning to uncover plenty of other potential health advantages of using a sauna.
1. Saunas may help rid your body of toxins.
It looks like that perspiration does more than just aiding in the regulation of the body’s heat. Research indicates that sweating promotes natural detoxification.
In 2016 a paper from BioMed Research International suggested that causing perspiration may be beneficial in getting rid of organochlorinated pesticides, which individuals are constantly exposed to through water, food, and air in the modern world.
It is favorable that OCPs have evidence of damaging physiological processes and likely contributing to poor health.
A 2012 paper featured in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health proposed that by inducing perspiration, we can aid the body in getting rid of Bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine disrupting chemical.
In both these experiments, the toxins were detected in highest concentrations in sweat, as opposed to in other bodily fluids such as urine and blood.
This makes intuitive sense to me. If you have ever experienced extreme perspiration due to consuming a chili, you know that you possess the physical capability to sweat out substances that your body would rather not have.
Sauna therapy assists the body’s natural detoxification process by increasing circulation and perspiration. This helps to rid the body of toxins.
Evidence appears to suggest that perspiration may assist in flushing out toxic heavy metals from the system. In 2012, a thorough examination determined that people exposed to toxic heavy metals, such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury, had these materials present in their sweat.
In their case report, it was discovered that mercury levels went back to normal after multiple sauna sessions. It appears that the advantage of the sauna is due to the perspiration which is produced, and not necessarily to anything the sauna does specifically.
2. Saunas may be good for people undergoing cancer treatments.
An investigation in 2002 featured in the Annals of Oncology recommended that increased body temperature beyond the typical should be investigated further for its potential to decrease tumors and cause tumor cell death.
Cell temperatures between 104-111° Fahrenheit (40-44° Celsius) have an especially harmful effect on cancerous tumors, making radiation therapy and certain chemotherapy medications more successful.
The investigators assessed various investigations and saw that raising body temperature solely increased the full overall response rates of cancer patients by 13%.
I am pleasantly shocked to find out about this cancer discovery, but it does make sense that simulating our body’s normal protection system against diseases – like fever – might help protect us from cancers as well.
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3. Saunas may help improve heart health.
Being exposed to warm temperatures and sweating due to exercise may be beneficial for your heart.
A research conducted in Finland in 2015 and published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal investigated how regular sauna use and the length of time it was used had an effect on heart health in a survey of 2,315 adults between the ages of 40 and 60.
Examining 21 years of collected data, researchers found that using a sauna more often was associated with a lowered risk of sudden cardiac death, fatal coronary heart disease, fatal cardiovascular disease, and death from any cause.
Further studies are required to uncover the reason behind this. The information indicated that frequent sauna usage was related to nearly a 50% decline in deaths related to heart issues. Seems like sweating is sweet for your ticker!
Studies suggest that saunas can have a positive impact on heart health. This seems to be because of their influence on the function of vascular endothelial cells, widening the arteries which are vulnerable to plaque build-up and lowering blood pressure, which is a contributing factor in heart illness.
An investigation of all officially released scholarly writing on saunas points to a solid inclination of coronary advantages, specifically in their aptitude to help standardize blood pressure and decrease the danger of congestion heart failure.
Harvard conducted a study and discovery that there appears to be a possible increase of over forty percent in protection from having a heart attack if a sauna is used on a frequented basis, four to seven times per week. And the benefit went up with increased use.
The research indicated that the more regular and extended sauna use led to greater advantages, with a consequent increase to the longevity of life.
The cardiovascular system needs to work at a greater capacity when using heat conditioning or visiting a sauna, similar to when doing cardiovascular exercises.
Engaging in exercise not only improves blood circulation, perspiration, and cardiovascular health, but also leads to a subsequent post-workout feeling of serenity, joy, and reduced pain.
READ MORE: Sweat & Conditioning Are They Linked?
4. The benefits of saunas include alleviating pain and reducing inflammation.
In 2018, a research paper that appeared in the European Journal of Epidemiology measured the influence saunas can have on the concentration of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation, in 2,084 male participants who were aged between 42 and 60 and who did not have either acute or chronic inflammation.
Once variables such as weight, smoking, age, liquor intake, and physical activity were taken into account, the scientists observed a noteworthy negative correlation between the men’s frequency of using a sauna and their CRP levels.
The calming effects of saunas may be beneficial in reducing pain.
A study conducted in 2011 of 44 women with Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) – a disorder distinguished by discomfort and tenderness – demonstrated that sauna therapy and workouts performed underwater had a positive effect on their sense of satisfaction in life, suffering, and FMS indicators.
The patients engaged in sauna treatments everyday for three days each week, coupled with underwater exercises on the other two days, for a twelve-week period.
It was previously noted that using a sauna may increase the amount of heat shock proteins, which act as an anti-inflammatory. For this reason, saunas may help lower chronic inflammation. It is highly significant that there is a link between inflammation and many different diseases.
Those tested who took saunas regularly experienced decreased levels of oxidative stress in a two week span. A different study determined that those men who visited the sauna four to seven times a week had a 32 percent decrease in the amount of c-reactive protein present.
Using a sauna can give us the advantage of boosting heat shock proteins, antioxidant enzymes, and triggering a process called autophagy to make our cells run like they’re brand new. In mice who are growing old, a boost in heat shock proteins can help them stay young for longer, as well as enhance their cognitive abilities.
Using a sauna bath can likewise raise numerous hormones associated with delaying the aging process such as human growth hormones and insulin-growth factor 1. IGF-1, in particular, can really help with injury healing.
Several heat-shock proteins can aid in muscle growth without needing to lift weights. Infrared therapy administered through photobiomodulation has a significant capacity to reduce inflammation, thus speeding up the recovery process for those injured.
5. Dry sauna may lengthen your lifespan.
Using saunas may have the potential to boost heart wellness and reduce inflammation, which could in turn improve life expectancy. Saunas not only seem to decrease the likelihood of coronary illness, but also look to be associated with a decrease in the potential for death from any source.
It has been proposed that the increase in lifespan for those who use saunas could be due to the activation of the FOXO3 gene, which is triggered by heat. FOXO3 and its modifications have been associated with a smaller possibility of developing age-related illnesses, breaking bones less often, and a reduced chance of having cardiovascular disease and cancer.
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6. Regular sauna use may reduce memory loss.
Analysts examined the outcomes of the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease population-based research study, which tracked the health of 2,315 male adults for 21 years.
Results indicated that utilizing saunas frequently to sometimes very frequently was correlated with a reduced chance of getting dementia or Alzheimer’s. Those who went to sauna four to seven times in a week were less likely to experience any kind of memory illness than those who went only one to three times a week.
7. Sauna baths may improve health and well-being in diabetics.
The study participants took 20-minute sauna baths three times per week for a duration of three months. In conclusion, they took a survey regarding their wellness and lifestyle.
The people partaking in the activity stated that their physical and general well-being were enhanced, as well as their social functioning, and their levels of stress and tiredness reduced.
Research has suggested that spending time in a sauna can do wonders for vascular endothelial function, enhancing blood circulation, dissolving clotting, and reducing hypertension – all of which are hazards linked with type 2 diabetes.
8. Sauna use may improve mood and cognitive function.
Using a sauna is similar to going for a jog in that it releases endorphins (the hormone that makes one feel cheerful), opioids (the body’s natural painkiller), and a molecule known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the brain.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor stimulates the production of new neurons in the brain and helps protect them from harm.
Improving BDNF levels is therefore important for cognitive function. BDNF being in an inadequate or irregular amount could potentially lead to various mental and psychiatric disorders.
Infrared saunas are capable of calming stress levels by restoring the stress response axis to its equilibrium. Reducing cortisol levels may aid in the prevention of health issues caused by stress. Saunas raise the levels of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter which influences cognitive functions.
9. Sauna use may help weight loss and metabolic health.
It is not accurate to say that utilizing heat and sauna can cause fat to be burned off or for fat cells to die. Despite this, saunas may augment insulin sensibility, facilitate growing of lean muscles, and reduce fat by shifting the hormonal environment.
In addition, the saunas also reduce inflammation. In conclusion, utilizing sauna sessions can help to avoid overweight, diabetes, and heart conditions.
A research conducted in Japan revealed that following a two-week sauna regimen improved hunger and the amount of food eaten in individuals who had a normal body mass index. Nevertheless, if someone is overweight, utilizing a far infrared sauna along with a low-calorie diet plan will create considerable weight and body fat decrease.
This research did not contrast the fat diminishment with a population without utilizing the sauna, but it was considered to be extremely rapid as the body fat decreased by 4.5% in the span of two weeks.
10. Sauna use can improve sleep.
Dr. Michael Breus, a clinician with a specialization in sleep medicine, states that a decrease in core body temperature is one of the cues that the body utilizes to comprehend that it is time to go to sleep.
This makes it clear why taking a hot bath or a shower before bedtime can help enhance the quality of your sleep. Since a sauna usually heats the body to a higher temperature than a warm shower, it can take several hours for the body to return to a cool enough level for sleep.
To enhance your sleeping habits, try going in a sauna either in the afternoon or before dinner. This can cause your body to become cooler by the time you hit the hay.
A study conducted in Japan discovered that exposure to far-infrared radiation increased the sleep quality among rat and human test subjects who had insomnia.
11. Sauna use may improve overall skin health.
In an effort to reduce body temperature, your body boosts circulation to the skin. Also, the skin evolves to this practice, making it more beneficial. A German survey discovered that people who use saunas often have skin that is able to maintain its moisture and generate a balanced pH level.
Furthermore, those who use saunas had lesser sebum on their foreheads, implying a lower risk of developing acne.
Conditions such as eczema and psoriasis involve both inflammation and a weakened skin barrier. Infrared sauna can aid with tackling skin problems by fortifying the skin barrier and decreasing inflammation all around, provided it is something the person can tolerate.
If your perspiration irritates the rash considerably, it is recommended that you apply an eczema-friendly cream before the sauna and shower promptly afterwards.
For centuries, saunas have been utilized and are known to be beneficial to one’s health in addition to providing a way to relax.
Saunas taken on a regular basis have the potential to provide a variety of health benefits, including better circulation, elimination of toxins from the body, decrease in pain and inflammation, improved complexion and endurance, and even a possible increase in life expectancy.
In addition to buying a sauna for personal use, spas, gyms, and fitness facilities could provide access to saunas. Can something so simple really have the power to calm one’s thoughts and body, while augmenting health and wellness in the process? People in Finland would say YES!