Sauna health benefits is known from ancient civilizations to our days. As long as you practice sauna safely, sauna bathing will improve your physical and mental health.
A tradition of using different types of saunas for overall health and wellness goes deep into human history. The word sauna originates from the Finnish language since Finland is rightfully considered the country with the major tradition of using hot bathhouse or sauna. With the country's population of a bit over 5 million people, there are over 3 million saunas.
Sauna usage goes long into the Finnish tradition. It is unknown when the first saunas appeared exactly, but this Northern Europe tradition can be dated to 2,000 BC. However, Northern Europeans didn't have a monopoly on using saunas. Similar heat rooms were used by other civilizations for a long time.
The most known example of ancient civilization using hot air for health and wellness would be the thermaes of Ancient Rome where both steam and dry hot rooms were part of the overall bathing experience. Across the globe from Rome and Finland, there are records of Mayans using their own versions of saunas over 3,000 years ago for both health benefits and for religious purposes.
Independently where the tradition originated first, we can experience the same health benefits our ancestors enjoyed in multiple saunas and steam rooms around the world.
There are a lot of types of saunas - traditional, smoke, infrared, dry, and steam room. Different variations depend on the structure and the way it heats. Generally, saunas that offer dry heat revolve around hot stones.
Traditional Finnish Sauna
Traditional Finnish sauna has a wood-lined interior with heated rocks being the source of hot air. Finnish sauna has to have a bucket of water with a ladle to add water on the rocks to increase the humidity level in the sauna.
A dry sauna is similar to a Finnish sauna and often has a similar interior, but you can't add water to the heating element. It can be 100% electric or even have hot rocks similar to the Finnish sauna, but adding more water is either dangerous due to the possible damage to the heating system or just prohibited by the rules of the establishment like at many gyms.
The steam room is not really a sauna, but it can offer similar health benefits. It can be found at many gyms and similar establishments too. It generally has a heat source hidden which releases hot steam through the pipes. The humidity is usually close to 100% in those rooms, but the temperature is lower than in the sauna. Despite the lower temperature, humidity makes the steam room feel hotter than it actually is.
The wet heat created for a steam bath is produced by boiling water that requires a powerful steam generator. Turkish Bath (Hammam), Aroma room, Japanese Salt-Steam Bath, Native American Sweat Lodge, Russian Banya, a steam room, and steam showers are types of steam baths.
Both sauna and steam rooms provide health benefits but there are key differences among them. The main difference is based on the fact that a steam room utilizes 100% humidity while a sauna is basically dry.
Infrared saunas have very little in common with other traditional types of saunas. There is no humidity in the room and the body is heated by the infrared elements directly. Though this type of saunas don't produce so much heat as others, they still provide similar health and wellness benefits.
Sauna Health Benefits
Beyond stress relief and relaxation, regular sauna bathing offers multiple health benefits. The heat will relax your muscles, improve blood circulation, boost the immune system, and gradually increase endorphins release to make you feel good. Heat causes you to sweat profusely in order of detoxification and cleaning the body impurities.
Relaxation and Stress Relief
Heat relaxes your muscles and dilates blood vessels increasing blood flow to tissues delivering nutrients for recovery from a workout, stressful day, or illness. Some studies even showed a significant increase in human growth hormone (HGH) after sauna bathing.
In addition to all of the health benefits of improving overall health, sauna helps the body release endorphins improving mood and overall mental well-being.
Regular exposure to higher temperatures is associated with increasing longevity and reducing mild heart problems. Sauna bathing improves cell regeneration and this way slows down negative processes in the body associated with aging.
Improves Cardiovascular Health & Decreases Blood Pressure
A long-term 20-year study done in Finland showed that having two to three sauna sessions per week decreases a chance of dying of cardiovascular disease by 23%.
Heat is good for your heart as they encourage circulation which in turn strengthens the heart’s muscles. Some experts suggested that a session in the hot room increases heart rate by nearly 60%, a figure close to what happens when you exercise.
According to a cardiologist Dr.Thomas H Lee, "The cardiovascular effects of sauna have been well documented in the past. It lowers blood pressure, and there is every reason to believe that its effects are good for blood vessels"
Sweets Out Toxins
While the main way to detoxify the body is having a healthy liver and kidneys, a sauna helps facilitate the more efficient removal of harmful substances from your body. Increased blood flow helps liver and kidney function better.
Sweating along with drinking plenty of fluids improve lymphatic fluid circulation that helps with muscles and joints relaxation and promotes the elimination of metabolic wastes.
Increase Athletic Performance
Improved recovery and blood flow showed a positive effect in athletes recovering from training session to training session as well as keeping the body function better with the stress of extreme physical demands of their sports.
Sitting in a sauna doesn't burn fat directly, but along with a correct diet and exercise, it offers significant help in a weight loss journey. Increased metabolism and improved organ function help the body utilize fat for fuel more effectively and thus, finally, lead to fat loss.
An occasional sweat in the sauna or steam room is absolutely good for the skin as it washes of bacteria from the epidermis. Deep sweating also removes dead cells and cleanses the pores to leave you with soft and glowing skin. If you have been on a quest to find the secret of youth then you should try the sauna or steam room for vitality and youthful appearance.
Improved Immune System
Improving overall body functions along with heat exposure with the following cool down boosts the immune system and helps fight sicknesses like the common flu.