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Top 10 health benefits of sauna & steam room use
1. Relieves Stress
This is the number #1 most cited benefit of sauna bathers. Medical studies clearly show stress in our daily lives affects our health. In fact, the vast majority of disease is stress-related. The sauna provides stress relief in a number of ways:
It’s a warm quite space without any distractions.
The heat of the sauna relaxes the body, improves circulation and stimulates the release of endorphins – the body’s natural feel good chemical – providing a wonderful “after sauna glow”.
2. Relaxes Muscles and Soothes Aches and Pains in Muscles and Joints
Under high heat, the body releases endorphins—the body’s naturally produced pain relieving chemical. Endorphins can have a mildand enjoyable tranquilizing effect and the ability to quell the pain of arthritis (and muscle soreness from an intense physical workout).
Body temperature rises from the heat of the sauna, causing blood vessels to dilate and circulation to increase. The increased blood flow accelerates the body’s natural healing process—soothing aches and pains and speeding up of the healing of cuts and bruises.
Following sporting activity, use the heat and steam of a sauna for muscle relaxation by helping to reduce muscle tension and eliminate lactic acid and other toxins.
3. Flushes Toxins
In today’s lifestyles, many of us don’t actively sweat on a daily basis. Deep sweating has multiple health benefits. Regular sauna bathing provides the benefits derived from a deep sweat:
In the heat of a sauna, the cord body temperature begins to rise. The blood vessels dilate, causing increased blood flow. As heat from t he blood moves toward the skin surfaces and the core body temperature rises, the body’s nervous system sends signals to the millions of sweat glands covering the body. As the sweat gland are stimulated they produce sweat. Sweat production is primarily for cooling the body, and is composed of 99% water—but deep sweating in a sauna can help reduce levels of lead, copper, zinc, nickel, mercury and chemicals—all toxins commonly picked up from our environment.
There is no shortage of books from Doctors and practitioners alike touting the benefits of detoxifying our bodies. As many doctors will attest and a big reason for the popularity of saunas in general, saunas are one of the best means to detoxify our bodies.
4. Cleanses Skin
Saunas are one of the oldest and most famous beauty and health treatments for the skin.
When deep sweating occurs, the skin is cleansed and dead skin cells are replaced, keeping your skin in good working condition.
Sweat rinses bacteria out of the epidermal layer and sweat ducts. Cleansing of the pores improves the capillary circulation and gives the skin a soft, beautiful appearance. Dr. Ben H Douglas, a professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and author of “Ageless: Living Younger Longer,” states “Sweating is a way of energizing the skin almost the way exercising a muscle energizes it.” He goes on to explain, when you sweat, the rush of fluid to the skin “bathes skin cells with a liquid rich in nutrients,” which “fills in the spaces around the cells” and even plumps up tiny wrinkles. He says the nutrients and minerals in sweat “are essential to maintaining the collagen structure of the skin.” Thus, bathing your skin in sweat on a regular basis staves off the collagen breakdown that results in wrinkles and sags.
By continually flushing body waste through individual cells, one eventually brings back vitality, tone and a healthy glow to the skin.
Bathing in a sauna is not a cure for acne, but often helps due to the deep cleansing it provides from a deep sweat (cleaning the pores from the inside out).
5. Induces a Deeper sleep
Research shows a deeper sleep can result from sauna use. In addition to the release of endorphins, when body temperature is raises in the late evening, it will fall at bedtime, facilitating sleep. Numerous sauna bathers around the world tout the deep sleep they experience after sauna use.
6. Recreational and Social Benefits
While the social benefit is rarely touted, it should not be trivialized. The sauna can be a private personal retreat or a relaxing environment for socializing with family and friends. The sauna environment is ideal for openness, quite conversation and intimacy.
7. Improves Cardiovascular Performance
In the heat of a sauna, skin heats up and core body temperature rises. In response to the heat, the blood vessels near the skin dilate and cardiac output increases. Medical research shows the heart rate can rise from 60-70/min. to 110-120/min. in the sauna (140-150 with more intensive bathing), and can often sink to below normal after the cooling off stage. With regular sauna use, we not only train our heart muscles and improve the heart rate/cardiac output, but we also positively influence the regulatory system.
Further cardiovascular conditioning occurs when the sauna is taken in multiple “innings”, with sessions in the sauna separated by a cool shower or a dip into a cool pool or lake. Every time you rapidly change temperature (from hot to cool or vice versa), your heart rate increases by as much as 60%–comparable to moderate exercise.
8. Burns Calories
Outlandish claims are often made by some sauna sellers (primarily infrared) to promote saunas as a weight loss tool. While some individuals may experience high amounts of calories burned initially—particularly those individuals in poor shape—over the long term, saunas are simply treated as another tool in our arsenal to burn additional calories.
The sweating process itself takes a lot of energy. That energy is derived from the conversion of fat and carbohydrates in a process that burns up calories. According to the U.S. Army medical research (Ward Dean, M.D.), “A moderately conditioned person can easily sweat off 500 grams in a sauna in a single session, consuming nearly 300 calories in the process.”
The body consumes calories by way of accelerated heart activity (cardiovascular section). As heart activity increases demanding more oxygen, the body converts more calories into energy.
9. Fights Illness
German sauna medical research shows saunas significantly reduced the incidence of colds and influenza. As the body is exposed to a sauna’s heat and steam (traditional), it produces white blood cells more rapidly—which in turn help fight illness and help kill viruses.
Saunas can relieve sinus congestion from colds or allergies—especially when used with steam (add eucalyptus to the water for added benefit and enjoyment). The steam vapor action helps clear up uncomfortable congestion and is a wonderful part of the Finnish sauna experience.
10. Feels Good
A sauna not only feels good, it’s good for you. Whether it’s the physiological changes that occur in the warmth of a sauna, or if it’s simply the time spent in the calm, still retreat of the sauna, all who sauna agree—it feels wonderful! As we go through our daily stressful lives, the sauna provides a pampering retreat—where we can relax and restore body and soul. A sauna truly makes you “Feel Better”, “Look Better” and “Sleep Better”.