The Benefits of Sauna Bathing

Aside from the relaxation a sauna session can provide, there are evidence-based benefits to sitting in one on a routine basis.

The practice has been used for thousands of years in numerous cultures and is especially popular in Finland.

There are a few different kinds of saunas you may find: a steam sauna which is usually high in humidity with a wet heat; electric and wood saunas, which are a dry heat at high temperatures and an infrared sauna which uses special infrared rays to heat the body instead of the whole room and is usually a dry heat at lower temperatures than traditional wood or electric saunas.

Regardless of the type of sauna you use, the benefits are similar.

When you sit in a sauna, your heart rate increases, blood vessels widen, increasing circulation and working up a sweat. The cardiovascular effects are similar to low or moderate-intensity exercise, but the difference is you are sitting still.

Some of the possible benefits of regular sauna use that have been studied include:

  • Helps boost the immune system
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Supports detoxification of heavy metals and other toxins
  • Reduces chronic pain and inflammation
  • Improves cognitive function
  • Can improve sleep quality
  • Improves skin health
  • Leads to better athletic performance and muscle recovery
  • Increases human growth hormone
  • Can support weight loss (though there is no consensus on how many calories a sauna session may burn)

You should never use a sauna under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. Those with chronic health conditions and on medications should always check with a doctor before using the sauna. Pregnant women should avoid sauna use as the increase in body temperature could pose a risk to the unborn child.

Hydrate well with water and electrolytes before and after sauna use. When using a sauna, start slowly with just a few minutes and work your way up to about 20 mins per session. Always trust your body, and if you feel faint or uncomfortable, exit the sauna immediately.

Most of the benefits seen in the research were achieved by using the sauna several times a week! There are options for in-home saunas, more budget-friendly portable saunas, and many gyms and wellness centers have saunas you may use.

Happy sweating!

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