Going to the sauna every once in a while helps ease stress. Saunas are associated with various health benefits and there are various forms of saunas. Using a sauna not only helps increase circulation and helps relaxation, it has the added benefit of recovery after exercise and aiding in both acute and chronic pain. Through this article, you will have a better understanding of sauna health benefits and the potential risks.
Table of Contents
- What is a Sauna?
- What are the Different Types of Saunas?
- Sauna Health Benefits for the Body
- Clinical Benefits of Infrared Sauna
- Advantages of the Steam-Room
- Tracking Sauna Usage
- Sauna Precautions & Risks
- Hot Tub vs Sauna Health Benefits
- Making Sense of Sauna Health Benefits
- How Often to Use Saunas?
- Sauna Health Solutions
What is a Sauna?
A sauna is typically a room that is heated between 70° to 100° Celsius or 158° to 212° Fahrenheit. This is a type of heat therapy that has been used for healing and wellness, dating all the way back to the ancient Greeks, Romans, and even the Mayans. The sauna is simply a small or large room designed specifically to help you sweat. Science stands behind saunas, and modern medicine has proven 10 clinical health benefits of saunas that will leave you wanting to get your own sweat on soon.
What are the Different Types of Saunas?
There are several types of saunas, based on how the room is heated, these include:
- Wood Burning: Wood is used to heat the sauna room and sauna rocks. Wood-burning saunas are usually low in humidity and high in temperature.
- Electrically Heated: Similar to wood-burning saunas, electrically-heated saunas have high temperatures and low humidity. An electrical heater, attached to the floor, heats the sauna room.
- Infrared Sauna Room: Far-infrared saunas (FIRS) are different from wood-burning and electrically-heated saunas. Special lamps use light waves to heat a person’s body, not the entire room. Temperatures are typically lower than other saunas, but the person sweats similarly. Usually, infrared saunas are about 60° Celsius.
- Steam Room: These are different from saunas. Instead of dry heat, a steam room involves high humidity and moist heat.
Sauna Health Benefits for the Body
Whatever type of sauna therapy a person chooses, and regardless of the humidity level, the effects on the body are similar and create a variety of well-documented sauna health benefits. This includes the release of feel-good endorphins, in addition to widening the blood vessels to improve circulation and blood flow. In order to maintain temperature harmony in your body, your nervous system becomes more active.
The body’s reaction to heat causes the person to be less sensitive to pain, more attentive, and elated. Your muscles, especially those in your face and neck, relax as a result of the heat. One of the most significant advantages of utilizing a sauna is the ability to relax. Meditation is a great way to add to the relaxing effect. When you physically comfort your body, your thoughts and emotions frequently follow suit. The impact is long-lasting, and it may even help you sleep better.
Clinical Benefits of Infrared Sauna
- One of the first benefits of the sauna is that it supercharges a person’s cell power. Heat has been proven to positively impact mitochondria, the ‘powerhouse’ of the cell, helping the body naturally produce more energy and stay fit.
- It slows down father time. In simpler terms, aging so cell regeneration means a slower aging process.
- Sauna detoxifies heavy metals and chemicals. Everyday exposure to potentially toxic heavy metals through a variety of sources means even the most health-conscious people still have toxins in the body. Regular sauna bathing helps excrete toxins such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury.
- Reduces the risk of heart disease. A 2018 study found that sauna bathing four to seven times per week reduces the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by as much as 58% (1).
- Reduces blood pressure. Sauna heat helps widen blood vessels and improve circulation, which reduces blood pressure.
Advantages of the Steam-Room
- Blood flow improvements from hyperthermic conditioning (heat conditioning) send more blood to the heart. This leads to increased plasma and red blood cell volume. That process delivers more oxygen throughout the body, fueling athletic performance.
- The use of a sauna improves muscle function and recovery. As more blood flow and oxygen are delivered throughout the body, muscles increase in size, and muscle breakdown diminishes. One study showed that two, one-hour sauna sessions for seven days straight increase the human growth hormone (HGH) production by two to five times.
- Fuel weight loss. Regular sauna use is shown to regulate the appetite, increase metabolism, and improve oxygen utilization, helping to fuel weight loss along with a reduction in body fat.
- Boost brain function. The brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF increases with regular sauna use. This activates the growth of new brain cells, better maintaining existing cells, and improving neuroplasticity, the brain’s process for forming new neural connections.
- Igniting the immune system. Heat exposure from sauna use increases the heat shock protein, stimulating antigen-presenting cells, along with releasing cytokine, thus stimulating the body’s natural immune system.
- Additionally Sauna improves emotional health and mood. When the body and brain are healthy, detoxified, and destressed, and having boosted endorphins, the overall mood and emotional health improve.
Tracking Sauna Usage
CareClinic is an all-in-one application that allows you to manage all health-related concerns in one place. The app comes with a daily check-in feature that includes medicine and supplements, symptoms tracker, measurements, nutrition tracker, activity tracker, sleep tracker, etc. The activity tracker is a very useful function in the app that allows you to keep in check your daily activities. This can include mentioning sauna usage for the span of time you were engaging in the activity. Keeping a log of your physical routine will not only help you recognize any possible symptoms or side effects but will help keep a history of your progress over time.
The therapy tracker on CareClinic allows you to identify any acts that caused, increased, or eased your symptoms. If you regularly use the sauna or are recently started, you might be able to pinpoint which activities assist to alleviate your symptoms and which don’t. Apart from injuries, if you’ve noticed any activity-specific symptoms like exhaustion, examining your activities will help you find them fast. You may go back and check if there are any links between your symptoms and any activities you’ve done in the past.
You can set up a healthcare team that manages your health and physical therapy. Add your physical therapist, coach or trainer along with your physician, registered nurse, and family members to keep them in the loop.
Sauna Precautions & Risks
To avoid any negative health effects, the list below contains all the precautions that you can take:
Avoid Alcohol Prior to Sauna Usage
Because a sauna relaxes your body, it’s possible for someone who is off-balance to sprain or fall while in one. As a result burns on intoxicated sauna users in some traditional saunas or steam rooms are not uncommon. More serious injuries, such as head bruises and heat stroke after passing out in a sauna, can also occur. Because a sauna relaxes and soothes a person, if someone falls asleep or passes out due to dehydration caused by alcohol, they might be in serious difficulty if no one is available to help them (2).
How do you Hydrate before a Sauna?
If you lose fluids from sweating and don’t replace them quickly enough with water, you risk getting dehydrated, which can cause headaches, confusion, and fainting. To restore what was lost through perspiration, drink at least two glasses of water before and two glasses after (not during) a sauna session. To get the best hydration results, keep all beverages at room temperature.
Never eat or drink while in the sauna. The heated air, when mixed with the dry heat, is difficult to digest and can produce bloating. It is advised that you eat two hours before going to the sauna. A pint of fluid is lost on average during each 15-minute sauna session. You can lose up to 5 pounds of water weight in an hour in the sauna. Most of this weight will return as you rehydrate.
The CareClinic platform allows you to track your fluid intake with ease. Use the check-in tab at the bottom to track your water intake. Logging the amount of fluid you consumed will not only benefit you from staying hydrated, but it will also ensure you are consuming the daily required amount!
Sauna Health Benefits with Weight Loss
The sauna’s heated temperatures will cause you to burn calories even after you exit the facility. It accomplishes this by boosting your metabolism. This feeling of well-being will last for several hours after you leave the sauna. The heat also causes your heart to race. To provide you with energy, your body will have to burn more calories. Because heat causes your body’s water weight to decrease, it’s usual to feel lighter after a sauna session. It is, nevertheless, critical to stay hydrated to avoid dehydration and nausea.
Sauna’s Impact on Health Fertility
The temperature of the testes can become excessively hot when exposed to extreme temperatures, such as in hot tubs, hot baths, or saunas. This has the potential to destroy sperm and reduce sperm count. This impact, however, is just brief. Overexposure to heat can be harmful to the body, yet casual use is advised and does not impede function. Once the heat is avoided, the counts will return to normal (1, 3).
Sauna Impact on Children Under 6
Children’s bodies aren’t completely grown, therefore their temperature management isn’t as effective as an adult’s. As a result, at the same temperature, a newborn or young child warms up faster than an adult. The subcutaneous heat tissue of a kid is sparse, they cannot sweat as efficiently, and their water needs are greater than those of an adult.
Children’s blood pressure may drop slowly, resulting in brief dizziness. These symptoms, however, fade rapidly and are not harmful to healthy youngsters. Because children under the age of six might experience a rapid shift in regulation, it is preferable to avoid such activities with younger children. For children who are healthy and can safely participate, adult supervision is essential.
Sauna Health Cautions
Sudden immersion in cold water can cause a heart attack, stroke, or hyperventilation. Even strong swimmers have a risk of drowning because their muscles are immobilized by the cold. The diving reflex occurs after the cold-shock reaction has occurred. The body’s blood vessels contract when exposed to extremely cold water. This helps to keep the body warm on the outside, but also makes it more difficult for the heart to pump blood to the inside organs. For persons who are at risk of a heart attack or heart disease, this can be highly deadly.
Hot Tub vs Sauna Health Benefits
In comparison, hot tubs and saunas offer a similar function: They provide heat to the body for relaxation and therapeutic purposes. Both can offer a feeling of well-being; both can alleviate muscle soreness and body pains. Hot tubs and saunas are both great places to relax, ease tension and spend quality family time. Either can be used as a quiet place to enjoy a peaceful moment or catch up with loved ones on the day’s events.
Sauna is an excellent way to cleanse the body of toxins through perspiration. You will not get this same result in a hot tub because you will not sweat as much, especially around the face. Freeing facial skin of impurities is one of the desired results of a good sweat. There are many benefits of saunas, such as the cleansing of the skin, increased circulation, and improved function of the immune and lymphatic systems.
Another benefit of heat therapy found in saunas and hot tubs is the relief of soreness from exertion or pain from arthritis. A hot tub is better for chronic pain because of the weightless effect of the water and the ability to direct the pressure of water jets where they are most needed. Other benefits from hot tubs are a decrease in blood sugar levels and increased circulation in the case of saunas.
Making Sense of Sauna Health Benefits
When trying new therapy or medicine it’s always important to keep on track with your new symptoms. Not everyone reacts the same way after using the sauna. That’s why you have to track your metric before and after you use it. It’s important to do it over a period of time as well, to understand specifically how sauna use is impacting you.
As a matter of fact, with the symptom tracker and Diary entry provided by the CareClinic platform you can enter the type of sauna you’re using, the room temperature, date, and duration. From there, you can check the status of your wellbeing; such as blood pressure, heart rate, and more. You may even see improvements in the quality of your sleepover time.
Tracking Sauna Health Benefits
Before going to the sauna and starting tracking your journey with the CareClinic platform, you have to the risks of using it and precautions. The moderate use of the sauna is safe. However, a person with cardiovascular disease should speak to the doctor first or report it to your care Team via the CareClinic platform. The risks are a few factors to consider before sauna usage, however, the main goal of sauna usage is to relax.
Sauna comes with a lot of added benefits and relaxation is a big one. Using diary entries is a great way to keep a log of how you feel before and after sauna sessions. This can also include jotting down meditations or practices to do while in/out of the sauna.
You can summarise all of your symptoms and feelings in an endless number of entries every day by using the diary entry tab on the Care Clinic App.
You can post an infinite number of posts every day and type up to 200 words per entry. In addition, you may record all causes and symptoms in the diary feature. The app also has a section where you may add lists, bold, italicize, and highlight crucial statements. In-app users can also add photos to personalize their diaries. The best thing is that diary entries are immediately saved for you to return back and work on the following day.
How Often to Use Saunas?
How often one can use the sauna will depend on a few crucial factors. They include your health condition, age, tolerance to high temperatures and humidity, as well as the type of sauna you use. A visit to the sauna is pleasantly relaxing. However, regular visits can have positive effects like when the immune system is strengthened, the metabolism is activated and the cardiovascular system is trained. Therefore, for this purpose, you should go to the sauna at least once a week. If you are healthy and feel good adjust the number of sauna sessions.
Sauna Health Solutions
In the check-in section of the App, you may add how many times you go to the sauna. The symptoms you feel after every session and what progress have you made. In addition, after reading this article, you will have a better understanding of all the risks, precautions, and health benefits. The CareClinic platform is a great way to ensure that you are staying on track with your symptoms and activity goals.
All in all, CareClinic is the perfect companion for sauna sessions. You are able to log the severity of your symptoms and the physical activities you are engaging in. CareClinic also details trends over time, so you can track your progress. Finally, CareClinic is easily shareable with caregivers, physicians and other healthcare providers. CareClinic will connect you with a support network, who will help you manage this disorder and improve your quality of life.
- Hussain, J., & Cohen, M. (2018, April 24). Clinical effects of regular dry sauna bathing: A systematic review. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine: eCAM. Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5941775/
- Ylikahri, R., Soukas, A., & Heikkonen, E. (n.d.). The sauna and alcohol. Annals of clinical research. Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3218903/
- Making fertility-friendly lifestyle choices. Harvard Health. (2017, March 25). Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/making-fertility-friendly-lifestyle-choices