5 Health Benefits of Sauna Use

If you’ve ever been in a sauna then you know first hand how rejuvenating and invigorating a good sweat can be. Sweating is a form of detoxification and there may be no better place to stimulate this process than in the sauna. Sauna therapy developed in the Scandinavian region, specifically Finland, and is used for bathing, improving ailments, and even as a setting for childbirth.To say the sauna is a foundational element of Finnish society would be an understatement, some even view it as a holy place and behave as they would in a church. It’s no wonder, more than just a place to feel good, the sweat inducing heat is also thought to balance many health problems including hypertension, fatigue, discomfort, and even certain cravings.

Many formal studies have set out to determine the health benefits of using a sauna and the outcomes have been very positive.

1. May Offer Fibromyalgia Symptom Support

The Department of Rehabilitation and Physical Medicine at Japan’s Kagoshima University conducted a study comprised of 44 females who had fibromyalgia symptoms. Three days a week, the participants took part in daily sauna sessions combined with twice a week water exercise sessions. Researchers reported the combination of sauna therapy and water exercise improved the participants’ quality of life and fibromyalgia symptoms. [1]

 

2. Supports Your Heart

Some critics have unduly fingered the sauna as potentially being too stressful on the heart but, according to Finland’s UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research, responsible sauna use is highly unlikely to cause any cardiac problems. [2] In fact, research orchestrated by the Cardiovascular and Prevention Centre at Quebec’s Université de Montréal found that exercise and sauna provided a 24 hour window of improvement of symptoms for persons with hypertension. [3] One word of caution, however, is advised before participating in the old tradition of jumping from the sauna into the snowbank as the immediate, extreme cooling can increase the risk of cardiac arrhythmias.

3. May Improve Endurance

A New Zealand study comprised of distance runners found that bathing increased run time to exhaustion by 32%. Additionally, plasma and red-cell volumes after sauna increased by 7.1% and 3.5%. Researchers concluded that the increased blood volume was likely the reason why post-exercise sauna bathing produced a significant enhancement of performance. [4]

4. May Reduce Incidence of the Cold

Austria’s University of Vienna designed an experiment to determine if sauna use impacted the incidence of developing the common cold. Over a 6 month period, a group that included 50 subjects total that were split two ways: 25 persons used the sauna, and 25 did not. At the end of the study, it was observed the sauna group had much less incidence of common cold than the control group and researchers concluded that regular sauna bathing may reduce the incidence of common colds. [5]

5. Assists Detoxification

Research has repeatedly shown that sweating in a sauna can help detoxify the body of the toxic agents, such as lactic acid, sodium, and uric acid, that routinely accumulate in the body. Toxins stored in subcutaneous fat are released through perspiration.  As toxins stored in the fat pass through perspiration, toxins that are stored at deeper levels of tissue throughout the body will move up into this layer of fat and continue to be released through sweat.  Circulation increases when you’re in the sauna and increased blood flow improves blood oxygenation.  Enhanced oxygen levels can assist in the dissolution of hidden toxic agents in the blood. [2]

 

According to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, AZ, sauna can be an effective component of purification and cleansing protocols and very effective for flushing out fat-soluble chemical and toxins. [6]

Unfortunately, law enforcement officers are often at risk for exposure to harmful substances such as methamphetamine and the toxic chemicals used to create it. This exposure can lead to chronic symptoms that may be disabling. To find new ways to combat this issue, 69 officers participated in a study conducted by the Utah Meth Cops Project. Subjects followed a multi faceted detoxification program that included exercise, nutrition, and sauna therapy. Following the detoxification routine, significant health improvements were observed. Researchers concluded that sauna and nutritional therapy may improve some symptoms of methamphetamine-related exposure for affected officers. [7]