When you enter a sauna, your skin temperature rises, your pulse rate soars, and your blood vessels become more dilated. This happens as your heart begins to pump more blood. Of course, you also begin to sweat. There are a few benefits to this experience.
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 widen. This increases circulation, in a similar way 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 may bring some health benefits.
Saunas have been traditionally used to produce a feeling of relaxation. As your heart rate goes up and your blood vessels dilate, there is an increase in blood flow to the skin. Saunas may also improve blood circulation.
Your sympathetic nervous system becomes more active in order to maintain a temperature balance in your body. Your endocrine glands begin to get involved in this response. Your body’s reaction to the heat can make you less perceptive to pain, more alert, and give you a feeling of elation. The heat relaxes your muscles, including those in your face and neck. These muscles are often tense after a long day.
This relaxation effect is one of the biggest benefits of using a sauna. To add to the relaxation effect, practice meditation while in the room. When you soothe your body physically, often the mind and the emotions follow suit. The effect is long-lasting and may even help you get a better night’s sleep.
Using a dry sauna can leave people feeling invigorated. Since the blood vessels relax and dilate in a sauna, blood flow increases and the experience can help reduce tension in the joints and relieve sore muscles.
Saunas might also help those with chronic pain and arthritis. A study in people with chronic musculoskeletal diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis discovered that sauna sessions improved pain, stiffness, and fatigue over the course of four weeks.
While all patients reported some benefits, the improvements were not found to be statistically significant. The authors recommend that patients with these conditions undergo a couple of trial sessions to see whether sauna use improves their symptoms before incorporating it as part of their treatment routine.
Improving cardiovascular health
The reduction in stress levels when using a sauna may be linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular events.
One study, conducted in Finland, followed 2,315 men ages 42 to 60 over the course of 20 years. Findings suggested that people who use a sauna may have a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
Of the participants in the study, a total of 878 died from cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, or sudden cardiac death. 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 cardiovascular-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.
More research is needed to find out if there is a definite link between sauna use and a decrease in deaths from heart disease.
Sauna use may also be associated with lower blood pressure and enhanced heart function.
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.
Help with weight loss
There are all kinds of ways in which you can try and lose weight these days, but have you thought about how a sauna can help? It’s been found that it can actually help you lose weight by using one. Your heart rate increases while you’re in a sauna, thanks to the dry heat. It’s been suggested that spending 20 minutes in a sauna can help you lose up to 500 calories.
This happens because your body’s metabolism speeds up in a similar way as it does when you exercise. Again, this isn’t going to replace exercise in your lifestyle, but it’s a fantastic way to help you keep your weight under control.
Flush toxins from your body
It’s fair to say that most people don’t actively sweat on a daily basis. As many jobs are sedentary, you don’t get the chance to get out there and move as much as you’d like to. That means that you don’t get to sweat as much as you need to.
Yes, you really do need to sweat. You especially need to do so in today’s environment. Just by stepping outside your door, you’re exposed to all kinds of harmful elements that you’re absorbing right into your skin. What’s the solution?
Using a sauna is actually one of the best ways of flushing these toxins from your body. This is because elements such as lead, arsenic, and cadmium are all deep in your skin. By spending time in a sauna, you can actually sweat those elements out. It’s a safe and easy way to counteract the effects of these elements in your body.
A 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.
People with asthma may find relief from some symptoms as a result of using a sauna. A sauna may help open airways, loosen phlegm, and reduce stress.
What Happens in the Body?
Whatever type of sauna therapy you choose, and regardless of the humidity level, the effects on the body are similar and create a variety of well-documented health benefits, such as releasing the ‘feel good’ endorphins, in addition to widening the blood vessels to improve circulation and blood flow.
Depending on the duration of sauna use, you will see circulation improvements that are similar to the effects of moderate exercise. Your 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.