17 Science-Based Health Benefits of a Sauna

The sauna was developed in Finland back in 1112, and initially, they were just holes cut into the ground and filled with animal skins. Saunas are rooms or small buildings that are designed for one to experience dry or wet heat sessions. They are known to have many health benefits, which is why they have revolutionized over the centuries. You will most likely find saunas at every gym and health spa visited now and in many homes around the world. Let’s take a closer look at these amazing health benefits. 

1. Increases Muscle Mass 

Muscle mass

A study conducted in 2015 proved that sauna enhanced endurance performance. Heat shock proteins are released when you are in a sauna. These proteins are known to repair some of the damaged or lost proteins in the body, leading to better muscle development.  

It is a well-known fact that you need to warm up your muscles before training. Warming up prepares the muscles for physical activity and exercise. Exercising without warming up increases the risk of injury. The pre-workout sauna and the post-workout sauna have a great impact on muscle function and the course of the workout itself, as well as on physical condition and health.

Saunas are often used to relieve muscle tension and pain after exercise. The high temperature inside relaxes the muscles, shortens the recovery time, and accelerates healing. In turn, fitness or training goals can be achieved faster, regardless of what you are pursuing —weight loss, cardio training, increase in muscle mass, strength, endurance, or a beautiful and textured body.

Exposing the body to higher temperatures is proven to impact your mitochondria positively. The mitochondria’s primary function is to produce the cell’s energy currency, so a positive impact on these will vastly improve the body’s energy output.  

2. Body Detox

Body detox

Saunas are known to help push toxins out of the body. The heat that the body is exposed to produces sweat, which forces toxins out through the skin. Elements eliminated from the use of a sauna include heavy metals and toxic chemicals such as BPA

It has been scientifically proven that regular visits to the Finnish bath, subject to the rules and recommendations, normalizes metabolism, which is important for the elimination of toxins. Of course, in order to get a more powerful effect, you need to adhere to a healthy lifestyle in the broadest sense. After all, stress, poor nutrition, and a sedentary lifestyle can easily nullify the result of even the most useful procedures. Alcohol and sauna are not compatible at all, so try not to forget this. There is an explanation for this effect because, in order to remove toxins from the body, we spend a lot of energy, and if detoxification does not occur for a long time, all body systems fail.

The human body has not yet fully explored resources, our body is capable of self-healing. But this is only if you monitor its condition with due attention. It is important to remember that cleansing of the body plays a special role in health, which is one of the main tasks of the Finnish sauna.

3. Heart Health

Heart health

Studies have shown that heat baths may not only relieve clogging in the arteries but also lower blood pressure. These two combined will give you a far healthier heart. 

Dry saunas are effective in improving vascular and heart health in both diagnosed and otherwise healthy people. The lining of our arteries is made up of a single layer known as the endothelium. The cells in this layer act as a barrier to blood cells and also help prevent narrowing of arteries, blood clots, and plaque formation. 

Sauna therapy has been shown to improve the functioning of these cells as well as promote normal blood flow. A healthy heart allows you to exercise for a longer period of time. With a healthy layer of cells in the endothelium and reduced inflammation, you can go to the gym more often and exercise better. 

4. Anxiety and Depression Relief 

Sauna stress relief

Spending substantial time in a sauna lowers levels of cortisol, thus reducing stress. It also prompts the body to create beta-endorphins, which lead to a state of euphoria. 

Saunas are great helpers in combating stress and depression and without any side effects. How to make them your allies on the path to recovery — in our material. Stress is a huge tension, during which it is imperative to properly relax with all your soul and body. What can help make it better than a sauna or steam bath? 

The positive result of the bath procedures is enhanced by herbal infusions and essential oils, which create a unique atmosphere of complete relaxation, peace of mind, and comfort. Simply put — those that use saunas daily are a lot happier.  

5. Improves Brain Performance 

When in a sauna, the body’s norepinephrine levels significantly improve. The norepinephrine hormone improves the attention span and increases one’s focus. The heat stress that the body experiences during a sauna also increases new brain cell production (neurogenesis), which will improve the ability to learn.  

Regular sauna visits reduce the level of cortisol, the main stress hormone in the human body. And intense sweating allows you to fully relax, which reduces feelings of frustration and anxiety. Besides, being in one stimulates the production of BDNF protein. It is a naturally occurring protein that reduces the risk of mental illness and improves brain function. It does this by protecting, repairing and growing new brain cells.

6. Pain Relief 

Saunas are extremely good at helping to relieve pain. The heat produced by the sauna will increase the release of many anti-inflammatory hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Your body will also release endorphins (natural pain relievers) when exposed to heat therapy. 

7. Improves Skin Health 

The use of a sauna may increase the skin’s hydration, giving you a more balanced pH level to the surface. Saunas are also an excellent treatment for those suffering from acne as they lessen the amount of oil found on the face.  

It has been scientifically proven that the bath and sauna have a positive effect on the activation of metabolic processes, regulate water-salt metabolism, and promote the formation of vitamins and tissue hormones. Thanks to the bath procedures, the supply of protective substances to the skin increases. In addition, the sauna regulates the immune processes in the body.

People who regularly visit sauna establishments improve skin pigmentation, and the skin acquires a healthy appearance. Even non-specialists know that pinkish skin color is a sign of its well-being and health. This color of the skin gives a good blood supply. The sauna improves blood circulation and you can achieve a healthy glow without visiting beauty salons.

8. Weight Loss

In a study conducted to evaluate body mass loss (BML) and body mass index (BMI), it was concluded that the heat produced when in a sauna will cause the breakdown of fat cells. As the body is continuously sweating, the release of toxins and unwanted fluids also reduces one’s weight. Saunas help produce muscle mass, which will replace the fat that is being broken down.  

You need to know a few rules on how to lose weight in the sauna. Do not sit in the steam room for a long time and without getting out. It is better more often and not for long — a maximum of 7-10 minutes. Rest assured; they will have an amazing effect. If you take a steam bath longer, then the weight loss will be greater, but at the same time, the heart will experience a strong load, which is fraught with a breakdown, and not at all an increase in tone.

9. Helps in Fighting Infections 

Sauna bathing stimulates the immune systems, enhancing immunological defense. The temperatures that the body is exposed to in a sauna will help kill bacteria and other viruses that may cause infections. When a person is sick, their body can have a lower temperature, which makes fighting infection extremely difficult.  

The immune system is suppressed by the cold, inhibited, a person becomes an easy prey for bacterial and viral infections. The only way to defeat a cold is to awaken the activity and aggressiveness of leukocytes and lymphocytes — the “warriors of immunity.” A good sauna with a steam room will fully realize this chance. 

With deep heating, the body’s resources are rebuilt, our antimicrobial defenders are given the necessary speed and activity, multiplying their defensive potential and reducing to a minimum the possibilities of aggressors.

Sauna use increases the amount of heat shock proteins being produced in the body. These proteins will naturally stimulate the body’s immune system, making it more resilient and less susceptible to infection.  

10. Enhanced Physical Performance

The use of a sauna can help adjust the body to high temperatures, which will improve the body’s capabilities in cooling itself down. This hyperthermic taming will improve the body’s ability to perform in higher temperatures. Regularly using a sauna will increase the body’s blood cell count, which improves oxygen levels in the body, improving performance during exercise.   

11. Lower Blood Sugar Levels 

Tests show that when exposed to a sauna, the body will have an increase in insulin sensitivity. The reduction in insulin sensitivity substantially reduces blood sugar levels. As a result, sauna use is ideal for people living with diabetes.  

Hot baths and saunas have other benefits besides burning calories and increasing insulin sensitivity. Sweating while exercising, in a hot bath or sauna promotes the release of heavy metals and other toxic elements through the skin like phthalates (often found in personal care products), cadmium, arsenic, lead, and mercury.

12. Deeper Sleep 

The use of an infrared sauna can help release endorphins that aid relaxation. Once the body starts to relax, deeper sleep can be achieved. It ultimately helps the brain to balance out your sleep cycle. Regular use can help relieve chronic stress and symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and improve sleep quality.

13. Longer Life 

Regular use of a sauna is scientifically proven to raise the life expectancy of a person. Spending quality time in it reduces the chances of heart-related disease. It also boosts one’s immune system, lowering the chance of catching any diseases. Regular use of it not only has an effect similar to sports training but also a positive long-term effect, for example, on the cardiovascular system. These effects may increase the lifespan of an individual.

14. Faster Recovery 

In order to recover, the body needs nutrients that are delivered to the damaged area in the blood. The heat produced during a sauna improves blood flow in the body, which increases the rate nutrients are provided and the number of nutrients that the injured area will receive. This, in turn, speeds up recovery time.  

15. Asthma 

Those who have asthma are bound to find relief when using a sauna. The airways will open when inside, allowing for more natural breathing. Heat therapy will also loosen phlegm in the throat. Heat is thought to reduce lung congestion and improve ventilation.

16. Dementia 

After several years of testing in Finland, it was discovered that patients who were put on sauna treatment four to seven times per week were 66% less prone to dementia than those who did not. Research also showed that those who use a sauna regularly are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s.  

17. Cancer 

The treatment of cancer patients by using temperature has been vigorously tested. Results show that exposing the body to higher temperatures can result in the death of cancer cells and halt the progression of tumors. Stimulation of tumor growth is observed at a temperature of 38-40 degrees, but with an increase in the temperature level, the effect on the tumor changes. 

At 40-42 degrees, the sensitivity of the tumor to radiation or chemotherapy increases, therefore this temperature is used to increase the effectiveness of these methods of treatment. And at 43-44 degrees, damage to tumor tissue occurs, which has found application in hyperthermia. This explains the usefulness of the sauna.

Takeaway

As you can see from the numerous science-based health benefits of a sauna, it is a highly recommended activity for all. With all these benefits to one’s health and improvement to physical and mental performance, it comes as a real surprise that saunas aren’t utilized more often. 

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