Pssst, There Are More Health Benefits Of Saunas Than You Think
Relaxing in the easing heat of a sauna sounds just about perfect, but there are even more physical and mental health benefits of saunas that have been rehabilitating people for centuries.
- The heat from saunas increases your cardiovascular health
- Saunas detox your body physically and mentally
- Wet saunas/steam rooms may have different health benefits
Saunas may be dated back to Finland around 2,000 years ago. Written documents from the year 1,112 A.D. mention a sauna excavated into the ground. After some time, the Finnish began to construct saunas above ground. Saunas have long been used for relaxation, treatment, health, and ceremonial in many civilizations across the world.
Today there are four types of saunas: traditional Finnish saunas, dry saunas, steam baths (also known as Turkish baths), and infrared saunas. From one style of sauna to the next, each experience is unique:
- Traditional Finnish sauna - This sauna has a wood-lined interior and is usually referred to as a traditional sauna. Heated stones, a pail of water, and a ladle may be found within the sauna. By pouring water over the rocks in the sauna, anybody may regulate the humidity. This may raise the humidity and steam levels in the sauna from 20% to 40%. The lower the humidity, the greater the temperature inside the sauna.
- Dry Sauna - A dry sauna is similar to a traditional Finnish sauna in that it contains heated rocks inside but no water to pour on them. This type of sauna is available in a gym and has a lower humidity level. Although many people are unaware that adding water to heated rocks in a dry sauna is possible, you should always be considerate of other sauna users and obey any restrictions if you use a public sauna.
- Steam Bath - The temperature in this sort of sauna is about 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and it is constructed of tiles, glass, or acrylic inside of a sealed area. With 100 percent humidity, a steam bath has a lower temperature. Because of the humidity, it feels hotter than it actually is.
- Infrared Sauna - Because there is no humidity in an infrared sauna, it is distinct from the others. It heats the body directly as opposed to heating the surrounding air.
Health Benefits of Saunas
Short-term intense heat exposure raises skin and core body temperatures and activates thermoregulatory pathways via the hypothalamus and CNS (central nervous system), resulting in autonomic nervous system activation. During this activation individuals experience positive physiological changes that include:
- Increased heart rate - Getting your heart to beat quicker than its resting rate every day trains your body to more efficiently transport oxygen and blood to your muscles. This allows your muscles to utilize that fuel more efficiently, allowing you to move more freely.
- Increased skin blood flow - Blood flow rises in a sauna because the blood vessels relax and widen, and the experience can help alleviate joint stiffness and aching muscles.
- Saunas may also be beneficial to people who suffer from chronic pain or arthritis.
- Sweating - Sweat does not just only keep you cool. It also helps your body detox from heavy metals, eliminate chemicals and cleanse the skin of harmful and body odor causing bacteria.
Whether steam saunas elicit the same physiological reactions as dry saunas is currently unknown, because sweating is greatly reduced. Current research regarding saunas is made up of studies on dry saunas.
We do know that there are many benefits of saunas which create acute whole-body thermotherapy in both wet and dry forms. This causes discrete metabolic changes, including the production of heat shock proteins, the reduction of oxidative stress and inflammation pathway activities, increased NO (nitric oxide) bioavailability, along with a few other functions.
In the bigger picture, at least in males, Finnish sauna bathing is linked to better outcomes such as lower overall mortality and lower rates of cardiovascular events and dementia. Saunas may help those with rheumatic disorders including fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis, as well as those suffering from chronic tiredness and pain syndromes, COPD, and allergic rhinitis.
In addition, sauna bathing is said to have significant psychological benefits in addition to substantial physiological ones, as evidenced by numerous reports of increased well-being, pain tolerance, and other self-assessed symptom-related scores.
Risks of saunas
Most people are safe when they use a sauna in moderation. However, people with cardiovascular illness, who have recently had a heart attack or have low blood pressure should seek medical advice first. Changing from the heat of a sauna to the cold of a swimming pool is not recommended since it might increase blood pressure. Saunas can also cause dehydration, since sweating causes fluid loss which is very hard on the body, even for short periods of time.
Some people may experience dizziness and nausea as a result of the higher temperatures, typically due to dehydration. Avoid using alcohol and a sauna as this can worsen and quicken the process of dehydration. Also limit the amount of time you spend in the sauna, 20 minutes should be the maxim for even an experienced sauna user.
The benefits of saunas are pretty incredible. Being able to heat your body this way helps you to detox and get stronger cardiovascularly without any cardio. If your local gym has a sauna it might be a good thing to use.
Written by Kiana St. Onge