The sauna has been around for over thousands of years. Simply put, it is a heating system used by humans to increase the temperature of the body and produce sweat. Natural perspiration has been linked back to being an important part of human evolution, and has convinced many of its capabilities to gain optimal health, purification, and spiritual harmony. Initially, the sauna was used to relieve the human body of infectious disease. This was proven as a successful treatment and the sauna quickly became a staple tool in optimizing health and hygiene. As the sauna grew in popularity, it also served as a way to enhance social and spiritual purpose.
The sauna is extremely culturally unique. The appearance of the structure, source of heating, and level of humidity vary across different countries. Regardless of these minor differences, the sauna is a primary mechanism used for whole-body thermotherapy. Below are 3 benefits of regular sauna bathing!
- Enhances Mood & Decreases Stress and Anxiety
The sauna has been known to produce feelings of relaxation that ultimately enhance mood and decrease stress and anxiety. The irony is that sauna bathing actually puts stress on the body, but in a good way. The heat stress produced by the sauna will initially make you feel uncomfortable. This is because your heart rate starts to rise, your blood vessels dilate, and there is an increase in blood flow throughout the body. As your sympathetic nervous system becomes increasingly active, your endocrine glands also increase their functionality. Your endocrine system is responsible for many functions in the body including, regulating mood and stabilizing your hormone levels. This heat stress also sensitizes your brain’s endorphins receptors. This means the next time you release endorphins, you will feel happier, and these strong positive feelings will last longer.
2. Lowers Cardiovascular Mortality Rates
Globally, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death. Many studies have shown that sauna bathing improves cardiovascular health, and ultimately reduces the risk of death related to heart disease. The frequency and duration of sauna is very important when it comes to these findings. One study found that men who spent 4–7 days in the sauna decreased their mortality rate from non-accidental deaths by 50%. Those who spent 2–3 times a week in the sauna were 27% less likely to die from a non-accidental death. Sauna bathing elevates your heart rate and increases your cardiac output and blood circulation, creating a zero impact exercise for your cardiovascular system. The high levels of heat experienced in the sauna increases blood flow to the heart and lowers blood pressure which in turn helps strengthen your heart.
3. Aids in Recovery After Exercise
As mentioned above, sauna usage has tremendous benefits on your mood, stress levels, and cardiovascular health. All of these health properties contribute to aiding your body in recovery after exercise. As the body’s temperature rises in the sauna, the increase in blood circulation and the release of endorphins act as a natural healing process for the body. The sauna relaxes your muscles and soothes aches and pains in the muscles and joints. As your blood flow becomes more oxygen enriched, the production of white blood cells rises leading to less inflammation in the body. Well renowned athletes such as Darby Hendrickson (NHL), Conrad Anker (The North Face Mountain Climbing Team), Gwen Jorgensen (Gold Medal Triathlon Olympian), and many others all use saunas as a part of their health regimes.
Over the years, the sauna has been increasingly popular and a staple practice for many people across the world. There is zero doubt that sauna bathing is a feel good regime with immense benefits. Although the sauna appears safe for most people, it is always important to consult with your doctor about the effectiveness of the sauna if you have high blood pressure or any sort of cardiovascular disease. It is also wise to avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water before and after sauna usage to avoid dehydration. It is best to eat a light snack before sitting in the sauna too. Foods such as fruit, yogurt, and salad give the body energy and allow for appropriate blood flow when sauna bathing. Be mindful about the time spent in the sauna as well. Typically, 15–20 minutes is a healthy amount of time to spend in the high heat levels. Be conscious of this advice when sauna bathing and take advantage of its pronounced health benefits!
-Danielle Lasky Zero Doubt Club