Finding a good sauna can be difficult. Once you do, you’ll enjoy the same health benefits that many civilizations have enjoyed for centuries.
The benefits of saunas have been in the news quite a lot recently. A 2015 article in the Huff Po renewed interest in Saunas with its headline “How Regular Sauna Use Can lengthen your life“.
Now, that’s a great article, but there are quite a few other benefits of saunas for you to enjoy.
5 Surprising Benefits Of A Sauna
There are many benefits of a sauna, but this article focuses on 5 kinds that will help improve your health and well-being.
1. Stress and Muscle Ache Relief
You probably know saunas have many benefits for those involved in sports and exercise. We can all benefit from less stress!
Inside a sauna, your body is exposed to consistent levels of high heat, which has been clinically proven to relieve both mental stress and muscle tension. Partially related to the release of endorphins, the heat works wonders on your body, both psychologically and physiologically.
In addition to a sauna providing a space free of noise, chatter, and outside stimulation, the prolonged exposure to heat in a sauna stimulates the body to release endorphins, which are neurotransmitters responsible for a “feel good” sensation. The stress reduction is largely associated with the release of endorphins.
Similarly to the stress-alleviating effects of endorphins that are brought about by a sauna session, muscle pain from both exercise and chronic conditions such as arthritis can be alleviated by stepping into the healing heat.
The muscles respond well to endorphins, which, as stated above, are responsible for pain-relieving feelings. In addition to the pain-relieving effects that saunas have on the body, the constant heat exposure also aids in muscle recovery, especially after strenuous workouts.
The continual heat causes blood vessels to dilate, which increases circulation throughout your body, particularly throughout your muscles. This increased circulation promotes the enhanced absorption of nutrients as well as muscular and dermatological healing.
2. The Ultimate Cleanse
A new “Detox” cure-all seems to hit the market nearly every money. Well, saunas have been used for the cleansing of harmful toxins for centuries.
In our world today, we are exposed to hundreds of different forms of toxins, some through the air, some through the water, and some through the food we eat. In particular, we ingest many forms of metal through the food we eat, such as mercury, lead, and aluminum.
These metals, after building up in excess amounts in the body, can be quite harmful if not flushed out. Sweating is one way that these harsh and toxic metals are flushed out, especially through deep sweating – the type of sweating induced by exposing your body to prolonged levels of intense heat.
This heat exposure is often found in places such as saunas and can be truly beneficial to your body. While mild sweating is a physiological response to strong heat that your body utilized to cool itself off, deep sweating does more than that – it sheds potent toxins from the body and makes it a better and cleaner place.
The cleansing doesn’t just happen from the inside, however; the deep sweating that your body undergoes also benefits the external appearance of your skin.
When you sweat in any form of profuse manner, your body sheds dead skin cells. The sweating from sitting in intensely hot places such as saunas magnifies this skin-cleansing affect.
3. Exercise Benefits
A host of physiological benefits can be seen from sauna usage, and they extend to all parts and organs of your body. Your heart, in particular, can benefit greatly from periodic sauna exposure.
This heart healthy practice can improve your ability to perform well during exercise intensive sports that require cardiovascular stamina, such as running, swimming, and basketball.
The beneficial mechanism is simple, but not quite straightforward. When you step into a sauna, your heart rate, due to the temperature of the sauna, rises considerably. This rise can almost be likened to that of the heart rate of a runner who’s in the midst of a workout.
Through this rise of heart rate, your heart will get a moderate cardiovascular workout, and get better conditioned to adapt to situations that require an elevated heart rate such as intense cardiovascular exercise.
4. Neurological Benefits
Saunas not only reduce stress, but they also help with neuro-degenerative disorders such as Alzheimers Disease.
During a sauna, your body experiences heat stress, which in turn activates Heat Shock Proteins. (HSPs). These HSPs inhibit the production of a protein fragment called “Beta-Amyloid”. A 2013 study found that Beta-Amyloid is strongly correlated to Alzheimers Disease.
Although it hasn’t been proven to the same degree, saunas have also been shown to reduce the damage caused by Multiple Sclerosis (MS). This is due to the elevated production of a hormone called Prolactin. Prolactin is thought to repair damage nerve cells and combat MS.
And finally, a small study found that saunas significantly increased the production of norepinephrine. “Norepi” is a neural transmitter that helps people improve their focus and store memories better.
5. Fight Infections and Sinus Issues
Saunas can also aid your body’s ability to fight off colds and infections. The heat and steam that your body is exposed to in a sauna can do two things. They can clear out your sinuses and stimulate the production of white blood cells.
The steam produced can help clear out your sinuses, which in turn fights the pesky symptoms associated with allergy problems. The heat, which stimulates your body’s production of white blood cells, can help make your immune system less susceptible to nasty bugs.
Who would’ve known that there could be so many benefits of putting your body in a room with a ton of heat and, sometimes, other people? Saunas expose your body to intense amounts of heat for prolonged periods of time.
While this practice may sound uncomfortable and harmful on paper, you can give your body some serious benefits from it. From better immune system function to stress relief, the benefits of saunas can’t be ignored!