What Does a Sauna Do: Ease Stress With a Sauna Sesh
With all the things happening in the world today, it’s hard to avoid stress. If you’re experiencing headaches, upset stomach, low energy and insomnia, chances are you are already stressed. Thankfully, there are ways on how to manage stress and that includes a relaxing sauna session. What does a sauna do to ease stress? Read on, and find out how.
First off, What is a Sauna?
Thanks to the health benefits of heat therapies, it has long been used for healing and wellness dating all the way back to ancient Greeks, Mayans and Romans. The earliest known saunas originated in Scandinavia, specifically in Finland.
Simply put, a sauna is a room designed to help people sweat. Saunas are typically heated to temperatures between 150°F and 195°F (65°C to 90°C). They often have unpainted, wood interiors and temperature controls. Saunas may also include rocks as part of their heating element that absorb and give off heat. In addition, water is poured onto these rocks to create steam.
What Happens in the Body During Sauna Sessions?
Whichever type of sauna you choose, and whatever humidity level, the effects on the body are the same. These research-based therapeutic benefits of sauna boils down into releasing “feel good” hormones, which aids stress and improve blood circulation.
Depending on the duration of sauna use, you can feel effects similar to doing a moderate exercise. The heart rate may increase to 100 to 150 beats per minute, while the growth hormone release increases by as much as 200 to 300%. Sauna use can also help improve athletic performance and stamina due to that increase in circulation.
What Saunas Do to the Body: Know these Amazing Therapeutic Benefits
For hundreds of years, Scandinavians have been using saunas for cleansing, relaxation, and weight loss. In Finland, dubbed as the sauna capital, there are roughly 2 million saunas for the country's 5.2 million people. In fact, sauna use in Scandinavian countries starts in early childhood. This maybe the reason why Scandinavians look so good, right?
In a relaxing sauna session, your skin temperature rises, your pulse rate soars, and your blood vessels become even more dilated. This happens as the heart begins to pump more blood and, of course, you also begin to sweat. There are a few benefits to this hot yet relaxing experience:
Sauna use can reduce stress levels
As long as we are alive, stress is inevitable. The question is, how do we effectively manage stress? Saunas might help! As the heat in a sauna improves circulation, it may also promote relaxation. This can improve feelings of well-being.
Regular sauna sessions can improve cardiovascular health
Naturally, the reduction in stress levels when using a sauna may be linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular problems.
According to one study in Finland which followed 2,315 men ages 42 to 60 over the course of 20 years, suggested that people who use a sauna may have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease-related deaths.
Of the participants in the study, a total of 878 died from cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, or sudden cardiac arrest. Participants were categorized by how often they used a sauna, including once a week, two to three times a week, and four to seven times a week.
After adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors, increased sauna use was linked with a reduced risk of fatal heart-related diseases.
Participants who used the sauna two to three times a week were 22 percent less likely to experience sudden cardiac death than those who only used it once a week. Those who used a sauna four to seven times a week were 63 percent less likely to experience sudden cardiac death and 50 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those who only used a sauna once a week.
While studies may be promising, sauna use should not replace an exercise program to keep the heart healthy. There is more evidence to support the benefits of regular exercise.
Regular sauna use can make the skin glow
Sweating from saunas opens up the pores and helps cleanse the outer part of the skin. This process called “warm condensation” will help rinse away dirt and dead skin cells and can potentially treat acne. However, dry sauna dries the skin during use. Some people with psoriasis may find that their symptoms reduce while using a sauna, but those with atopic dermatitis may find that it worsens.
Relief from Symptoms of Asthma
Asthmatic people may find relief from some symptoms as a result of using a sauna. A sauna may help open airways, loosen phlegm, and reduce stress levels.
Sauna use can potentially lower risk of Alzheimer's Disease
The study in Finland published findings that sauna use with a lower risk dementia Alzheimer's disease. Those who used a sauna 2 to 3 times per week were 22 percent less likely to get dementia and 20 percent less likely to get Alzheimer's compared to those who did not use a sauna. Those who used a sauna four to seven times a week were 66 percent less likely to get dementia and 65 percent less likely to get Alzheimer's than those who used a sauna once a week.
However, the results do not prove that a sauna causes the reduction in risk. It may be that people with dementia do not use a sauna. More research is needed to confirm these findings.
Some Precautions Before Using a Sauna
Just any other thing, too much of using a sauna can lead to health risks. To avoid any negative health effects, the following precautions are advised:
Blood pressure risks
Switching between the heat of a sauna and cold water in a swimming pool is not advisable, as it can raise blood pressure.
A sauna use may also cause blood pressure to fall, so people with low blood pressure should talk to their doctor to make sure sauna use is safe.
People who have recently had a heart attack should also talk to their doctor first.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Whatever type of sauna a person uses, it is important to replace the fluids lost from sweating. People should drink about two to four glasses of water after using a sauna. Dehydration can result from fluid loss while sweating. People with certain conditions, such as kidney disease, may be at a higher risk of dehydration.
The increased temperatures can also lead to dizziness and nausea in some people.
Alcohol increases the risk hypotension arrhythmia, and sudden death.
A year-long study of people in Finland who experienced sudden death showed that in 1.8 percent of cases, the person went to the sauna within the last 3 hours, and in 1.7 percent of cases, they had done so in the last 24 hours. Most of the people who died had alcohol.
Limit time spent in a sauna
Remember: do not spend more than 20 minutes at a time in a sauna. For first time users, they should spend a maximum of 5 to 10 minutes per session. As they get used to the heat, they can slowly increase the time to about 20 minutes.
Avoid sauna use if you’re not feeling well
People who are ill should also wait until they recover before using a sauna. Women who are pregnant or those with certain medical conditions, such as those with low blood pressure, should ask their doctor before sauna use.
Supervise children when you're using a sauna
Kids have lower heat tolerance than adults. Children aged 6 and above are safe to use a sauna, but should be supervised when doing so. They should spend no longer than 15 minutes in there at one time.
How to Track Your Sauna Health Benefits
The aged-old saying, “different strokes for different folks” holds true to the benefits of sauna use. Health effects may vary to every person, and it is important to know what works best for you. Also, health benefits don’t happen overnight and with just one sauna session. Regular sauna use can make a difference, but it is also important to include exercise and a healthy diet for more sustainable therapeutic benefits.