The Science of Sauna
Sauna use linked to longer life, mood improvement, enhanced lung function, lowered blood pressure, improved vascular health, and more…
Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland tracked 2,300 middle-aged men for an average of 20 years. They categorized the men into three groups according to how often they used a sauna each week. The men spent an average of 14 minutes per visit baking in 175° F heat. Over the course of the study, 49% of men who went to a sauna once a week died, compared with 38% of those who went two to three times a week and just 31% of those who went four to seven times a week. Frequent visits to a sauna were also associated with lower death rates from cardiovascular disease and stroke.
There is plenty of research now that shows sauna use boosts the production of feel-good hormones and endorphins, possibly leading to stress relief and improved mood. These changes have shown to be semi permanent, so they last for some time after you step out of the sauna. Thermal therapy in general has also been linked with a reduced risk of depression and anxiety overall. Not surprisingly, sauna usage has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol, a body’s most abundant stress hormone.
Research suggests that saunas can improve vascular health in a variety of ways, from lowering blood pressure and risk factors for hypertension to reducing bathers’ likelihood of fatal heart disease, stroke and neurological decline.
Saunas can improve respiratory function
Sauna bathing has been shown to enhance lung capacity and function, potentially resulting in improved breathing for people with respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis, according to the paper. Sauna regulars may also have fewer common colds and flus and a lower risk of pneumonia, the study adds, suggesting that sauna bathing may also boost the body’s immune response.
They promote pain relief
Research has shown that people suffering from musculoskeletal conditions, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, report lessened discomfort after spending time in a sauna. When interspersed with cooling periods, sauna stints may also boost the body’s natural pain-killing response, according to the paper. Similar results have been observed among people with chronic headaches.
Saunas help improve your skin by opening up your pores and allowing built-up wastes and toxins to flush out as you sweat. Lotions, deodorants, and dead skin cells can clog your pores and lead to acne and painful cysts. The dry heat from a sauna helps your skin avoid infection from these built-up wastes. Also, saunas cleanse your skin by getting rid of the dead skin cells, exposing a fresh new layer of skin that looks and feels younger.
According to Harvard Health Publications, you can lose up to a pint of sweat during a sauna session. The sweat flowing from your body will help to leave your skin rejuvenated. Make sure to stay hydrated both before and after spending time in a sauna to maximize this benefit and stay healthy. Sweat also plays a role in regulating your body temperature and may help fight infections. Excessive sweating in a sauna may increase your levels of dermcidin, a protein that fights harmful bacteria.