What is a Sauna: Things You Need to Know

 What is a Sauna: Things You Need to Know and Health Benefits

Thanks to its health benefits of using a sauna, sweating through heat therapy has been used through. The earliest forms of saunas or sweat houses have long been used, initially by the Mayans roughly 3000 years ago to heat up bodies in cold winters. Since then, it has been part of cultural life to this day in almost every country of the world. What is sauna? Here are some important things you need to know. 


What is a sauna?

what is a sauna

 Simply put, a sauna is typically a room heated between 70° to 100° Celsius or 158° to 212° Fahrenheit.

In addition, traditional Finnish saunas use dry heat, with a relative humidity that is often between 10 and 20 percent. Some other sauna types use higher level of moisture. For instance, Turkish-style saunas involve a greater level of humidity.

A sauna use can raise the skin temperature to roughly 40° Celsius or 104° Fahrenheit. Heavy sweating can is caused by the rising of skin temperature. The heart rate also rises as the body attempts to keep it cool. A short time spent in a sauna can lose about a pint of sweat, and this is completely normal. 

Types of Saunas: Which Type of Sauna is Good for You?

Saunas come in several types and this is based on how the room is heated. The following are the common types of sauna. 


 Wood Burning Saunas

This type of sauna uses wood is to heat the sauna room and rocks. In addition, wood-burning saunas are usually low in humidity and high in temperature.

Electrically-heated Saunas

Similar to wood-burning saunas, electrically-heated saunas have high temperatures and low humidity. In this type of sauna, an electrical heater is attached to the floor, which heats the sauna room.

Infrared Saunas

Far-infrared saunas (FIRS) are way different to wood-burning and electrically-heated saunas. Special lamps use infrared-light waves to heat a person's body, not the entire room. Temperatures are typically lower than other saunas, but the person sweats similarly. Infrared saunas can reach up to 60° Celsius.

Steam Rooms

Steam rooms are different from saunas. Instead of dry heat, a steam room involves higher humidity and more moist heat.

Regardless of how a sauna is heated, or the humidity level, the effects on the body are similar.

When a person sits in a sauna, their heart rate increases and blood vessels expand. This increases circulation, similarly to low to moderate exercise, depending on the duration of sauna use.

Heart rate may increase to 100-150 beats a minute while using a sauna. This process may bring some health benefits.


What are the Health Benefits of a Sauna?

A relaxing steam session in a sauna offers a surprising number of health benefits. Get to know how saunas can make a difference in a person’s health. 

sauna health benefits

Sauna Use Can Ease Stress

With all the things happening in the world today, stress is inevitable, but we can control our response. One way to ease stress is through a sauna. The heat triggers the body to release endorphins or “feel good” hormones. This process helps reduce the stress we feel in the body. 

Saunas can also help decrease cortisol levels, the hormone released when we are stressed. When this drops, people feel in control, relaxed, and refreshed.

Improve Blood Circulation and Cardiovascular Health

You may only be sitting in a steam room or sauna, but it has positive effects on the cardiovascular system, especially in older people. A 2012 research found out that moist heat can improve blood circulation by dilating the small blood vessels or capillaries. This means that blood can flow more freely and can transport more oxygen around the body. 

A Steam from the Sauna Promotes Healthier Skin

The good news is, 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.     

Opens Up Sinuses

The heat generated from the sauna opens up and unclogs mucous membranes around the body. This process helps someone breathe easier and deeper. It also breaks up the congestion in the sinuses and lungs and can help treat colds, unblock them and help in breathing properly.

Sauna Use Helps Burn Calories

Eating is good, not until you count the calories. When people are inside steam showers, the heart rate increases. Using it after an exercise can help prolong elevated heart rates. 

In a research done by the University of Wisconsin, the heat and sweating in the steam room can stimulate the body and increase wellness alongside a healthy exercise program.

However, no scientific evidence supports that steam rooms can help people lose weight. The weight loss after a steam room session is just water weight. 

Regular steam shower sessions, alongside a healthy diet and exercise, can help burn calories. 

Relief from Stiff Joints and Sore Muscles

Good news to people who exercise! Using a sauna is beneficial for workout recovery, as it's going to result in loosening up any tense muscles after a workout.

According to Dr. Denise Millstine, an Internist at Mayo Clinic, “The heat can make your muscles more pliable and elastic, so it would probably help with workout recovery soreness,” People with stiff joints and body aches also swear by saunas for easing pain.

Sauna use can also help with tension-type headaches because it reduces muscle soreness that contributes to them, says Dr. Millstine.

Regular Sauna Use Can Strengthen the Immune System and Overall Body Health

Using a sauna isn't directly tied to boosting immunity, but if you associate sauna bathing with relaxation, it will reduce stress, which can impair your immune system's function. Sauna usage has also been shown to decrease circulating levels of inflammatory markers, which mess with your immune system response. 

“There was also a small study that looked at sauna use in some healthy volunteers, and they were able to show reduction in their incidence of the common cold,” says Dr. Millstine. “So it's possible that it can help to improve your immune system or potentially make your tissues better able to fight off a virus that you're exposed to."

A Sauna Bath Can Improve Mood Response

Some studies show that sauna sessions can benefit your mood, which is tied again to the relaxation factor. Men in Finland who regularly used a sauna had a decreased risk of psychosis, found one study, and sauna usage can reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, another study showed.

“It's unclear if those benefits are directly related to sauna use or, again, or if it's simply tied to a healthy lifestyle that involves socialization and relaxation,” says Dr. Millstine. Either way, there seems to be some positive brain and mental health benefits to visiting a sauna.


Are Saunas Worth It?

There you have it, we just answered the question: what is a sauna? Saunas are not only relaxing, but they offer a number of health benefits. To name a few, regular sauna sessions can improve blood circulation, promote healthier skin, open up sinuses, and can help burn calories alongside diet and exercise. 

Compared with the cost of getting sick due to stress, getting any type of sauna is definitely worth it. When you are constantly stressed, there are certain diseases that can stem from it. A relaxing sauna sesh is definitely an escape that can ease the stress from life. 

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