Sitting back and relaxing in a hot sauna may sound appealing after a hard workout or a trying day at work – but did you know that regularly using a sauna could also have many other health benefits? There are different types of saunas – some use steam and heat (known as “steam rooms”), while others use a dry heat with low humidity. There is also an infrared light therapy sauna available, which has the same healing heat properties as a traditional sauna. Sauna therapy is an age old tradition in Scandinavian countries, where people use “sweat lodges” to convene together and relax while enjoying the health-inducing properties. Fifteen to thirty minutes in a sauna three or four times a week, when combined with a healthy diet and exercise, can increase your overall wellness. Sauna use will raise your heart rate like exercise, yet put you in a relaxed state of mind. Using a sauna will cause you to sweat more profusely than a traditional exercise session.
People with health conditions such as kidney disease or cardiac conditions may not be able to use sauna therapy – talk to your doctor before starting any new treatments if you have any serious medical conditions. A typical session in the sauna can cause a person to lose approximately one full pound of sweat! Novices should start out with a lower temperature, use the sauna with a buddy, start with shorter sessions, and stay hydrated during use. Read on for the possible health benefits of regular sauna use!
Improve Cardiovascular Health
An observational study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association studied more than 2,000 men in Eastern Finland over a period of 20 years to see how heart health was affected by frequent dry sauna use. The study compared different frequencies of dry sauna use (once a week versus two to three times a week or even four to seven times per week) and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Results showed that those subjects who used the dry sauna more often were 22% less likely to suffer from a heart attack than those who used it once per week. Men who used the dry sauna four to seven times per week were 63% less likely to experience sudden cardiac death than those who used it once per week. It was also observed that those who spent more time in the sauna (19 minutes on average versus 11 minutes) were 52% less likely to suffer from sudden cardiac death. In general, those who used the sauna more often and for longer had a lower risk of heart disease even with other risk factors like hypertension, diabetes, old age, and smoking. It is thought that dry saunas lower the risk of heart disease because relaxation is important for overall health and it decreases blood pressure. The sauna’s stimulation of heart rate is also beneficial because it imitates the increase in heart rate instigated by exercise, which is well known to be essential for a healthy heart.
More healthy ways to reduce stress.
Regular sauna use has been shown to improve pain levels in chronic tension headache syndrome, which is characterized by frequent tension headaches that occur for more than 15 days per month. A study published last year in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine examined the use of regular sauna use for 8 weeks in patients with chronic tension headaches and found that the intensity of pain levels in patients was significantly improved by regular sauna bathing when compared to control groups.
Improve Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is an often debilitating condition that has unknown etiology and no preferred therapy. One study examined the effects of Waon therapy (far-infrared dry sauna) on patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and found positive results. Regular sauna therapy improved the patients’ self-assessed ratings of fatigue, mood, anxiety, and depression – making sauna use an innovative and useful tool in treating this condition.
Next time that you want to relax in a sauna, remember it may also have great health benefits!
Bunch, T. Jared, MD. “The Amazing Heart-Health Benefits of Saunas – Rhythm of Life.” Everyday Health. Everyday Health, 8 May 2015. Web. 03 Jan. 2016.
Laukkanen, Tanjaniina, Et Al. “Association Between Sauna Bathing and Fatal Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Events.” JAMA Internal Medicine JAMA Intern Med 175.4 (2015): 542. Web.
Kanji, Giresh, Et Al. “Efficacy of Regular Sauna Bathing for Chronic Tension-Type Headache: A Randomized Controlled Study.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 21.2 (2015): 103-09. Web.
Soejima, Yuji. “Effects of Waon Therapy on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Pilot Study.” Intern. Med. Internal Medicine 54.3 (2015): 333-38. Web.
“Sauna-Induced Sweating Offers Many Health Benefits.” UW School of Medicine and Public Health. UW School of Medicine and Public Health, 3 Jan. 2011. Web. 03 Jan. 2016.