Although sauna bathing causes various acute, transient cardiovascular and hormonal changes, it is well tolerated by most healthy adults and children. Sauna bathing does not influence fertility and is safe during the uncomplicated pregnancies of healthy women. Some studies have suggested that long-term sauna bathing may help lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension and improve the left ventricular ejection fraction in patients with chronic congestive heart failure, but additional data are needed to confirm these findings. The transient improvements in pulmonary function that occur in the sauna may provide some relief to patients with asthma and chronic bronchitis. Sauna bathing may also alleviate pain and improve joint mobility in patients with rheumatic disease. Although sauna bathing does not cause drying of the skin-and may even benefit patients with psoriasis-sweating may increase itching in patients with atopic dermatitis. Contraindications to sauna bathing include unstable angina pectoris, recent myocardial infarction, and severe aortic stenosis. Sauna bathing is safe, however, for most people with coronary heart disease with stable angina pectoris or old myocardial infarction. Very few acute myocardial infarctions and sudden deaths occur in saunas, but alcohol consumption during sauna bathing increases the risk of hypotension, arrhythmia, and sudden death, and should be avoided.
Sauna baths have gained a lot of popularity all over the world because of their numerous health benefits. It not only rejuvenates the body, but also the mind. Having a sauna bath helps in loosening up the muscles and hence, it is considered as one of the best forms of warm up. Secondly, a regular session of sauna helps in eliminating the wastes out of the body and helps in making the skin smooth and supple. Sauna also boosts up the metabolism which is required for improving the overall health. There are many more benefits of sauna. However, are you aware that there are also possible hazards associated with sauna? Here we will see more on it.
BENIFITS OF SAUNA BATH
1. Saunas relieve stress.
Not surprisingly, sauna bathers most frequently cite stress reduction as the number one benefit of sauna use. Medical studies often determine that stress in our daily lives can negatively affect our health. In fact, the vast majority of disease (i.e. heart disease) is at least partially stress-related. Heat bathing in a sauna provides stress relief in a number of ways. It’s a warm, quiet space without any distractions coming from the outside. As we like to say, “Step into a Finnleo sauna, and close the door on the rest of the world.” The heat from the sauna relaxes the body’s muscles, improves circulation and stimulates the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s all-natural “feel good” chemical, and their release provides a truly wonderful “after sauna glow.”.
2. Saunas relax muscles and soothe aches/pains in both muscles and joints.
Under the high heat provided by a sauna, the body releases endorphins (see health and wellness benefit). Endorphins can have a mild, enjoyable “tranquilizing effect” and the ability to minimize the pain of arthritis and muscle soreness other from, say, an intense physical workout. Body temperature also rises from the heat of the sauna.. This causes blood vessels to dilate, therefore increasing blood circulation. This increased blood flow in turn speeds up the body’s natural healing process via soothing aches and pains and/or speeding up of the healing of minor bruises or cuts. After participating in physical sports, use the heat and/or steam of a sauna to promote muscle relaxation by helping to reduce muscle tension and eliminate lactic acid and/or other toxins that may be present.
3. Saunas flush toxins.
Many – if not most – of us do not actively sweat on a daily basis. Deep sweating, however, has multiple proven health benefits. Benefits derived from a deep sweat can be achieved via regular sauna bathing.Due to the heat of a sauna, the core body temperature begins to rise. The blood vessels then dilate, causing increased blood flow (see above). As heat from the blood begins to move toward the skin’s surface, the body’s nervous system then sends signals to the millions of sweat glands that cover the human body. As the sweat glands become stimulated, they produce sweat. Sweat production is primarily designed to cool the body, and is composed of 99% water. However, deep sweating in a sauna can help reduce levels of lead, copper, zinc, nickel, mercury and chemical – which are all toxins commonly absorbed just from interacting with our daily environments.There is no shortage of books from Doctors and practitioners, who describe the benefits of detoxifying our bodies regularly. As many doctors will agree, a big reason for the popularity of saunas is that they are one of the best ways to detoxify our bodies.
4. Sauna cleanses the skin.
Heat bathing is one of the oldest beauty and/or health strategies in terms of cleansing one’s skin. When the body begins to produce sweat via deep sweating, the skin is then cleansed and dead skin cells are replaced – keeping your skin in good working condition.Sweating rinses bacteria out of the epidermal layer and sweat ducts. Cleansing of the pores has been shown to improve the capillary circulation, while giving the skin a softer-looking quality. Dr. Ben H Douglas, a professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and author of “Ageless: Living Younger Longer,” attests that “Sweating is a way of energizing the skin almost the way exercising a muscle energizes it.” He goes on to explain that, 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 also mentions that the nutrients and minerals in sweat “are essential to maintaining the collagen structure of the skin.” Bathing skin in sweat on a fairly regular basis, therefore deters collagen breakdown that can ultimately result 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. Sauna usage is certainly not a cure for acne, but it can very often help – due to the deep cleansing it provides from a deep sweat (that is, cleaning the pores from the very inside out – instead of just cleaning the top of the skin).
5. Saunas can induce a deeper sleep.
Research has shown that a deeper, more relaxed sleep can result from sauna use. In addition to the release of endorphins (see above), body temperatures, which become elevated in the late evening,fall at bedtime. This slow, relaxing decline in endorphins is key in facilitating sleep. Numerous sauna bathers worldwide recall the deep sleep experiences that they feel after bathing the the calming heat of a sauna.
6. Saunas bring about recreational and social benefits.
While the social benefit is rarely talked about, it’s really actually quite important. The sauna can be a private, personal area of relaxation and solitude. However, it can just as easily be a relaxing environment for socializing with family, friends and soon-to-be friends. The sauna room environment is conducive to open, intimate and quiet conversation.
7. Saunas improve cardiovascular performance.
In the high temperatures of a traditional or infrared sauna, skin heats up and core body temperature rises.In response to these increase heat levels, the blood vessels near the skin dilate and “cardiac output” increases. Medical research has told us that the heart rate can rise from 60-70 bpm (beats per minute) to 110-120 bpm in the sauna (140-150 with more intensive bathing), and can often sink to below normal after the cooling off stage. With regular sauna useage, we not only train our heart muscles and improve the heart rate/cardiac output, but we also help the body’s regulatory system.Even more cardiovascular conditioning takes place when the sauna bathing is taken in multiple “innings”, with sessions in the sauna separated by a cool shower or a quick dip into a cool pool or lake. Each time you rapidly change temperature (from hot to cool or vice-versa), your heart rate increases by as much as 60%, which is very comparable to the increase experienced during moderate exercise..
8. Saunas burn calories.
Outlandish claims are often made by some sauna sellers (primarily those who sell infrared saunas) to promote saunas as an end-all weight loss tool. While some individuals may experience high amounts of calorie burn at first – particularly those individuals in poor shape to begin with – over the long term, saunas are simply treated as one of many tools in our arsenal when it comes to burn additional calories.The sweating process itself requires a notable amount of energy. That energy is derived from the conversion of fat and carbohydrates in a bodily process that burns up calories. According to 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 said calories due to the acceleration of heart activity (the cardiovascular section). As heart activity increases and as these processes demand more oxygen, the body begins to convert more calories into usable energy.
9. Saunas can help fight illness.
German sauna medical research shows that saunas were able to significantly reduce the incidences of colds and influenza amongst participants. As the body is exposed to the heat of a sauna and steam (in the case of traditional saunas), it produces white blood cells more rapidly, which in turn helps to fight illnesses and helps to kill viruses.In addition, saunas can relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of sinus congestion from from colds or allergies – especially when used with steam (tip: add eucalyptus to the water for added benefit and overall enjoyment). The steam vapor action helps to clear up unwanted congestion and is a wonderful aspect of the Finnish sauna experience.
10. Saunas just feel good.
A sauna not only feels good, it’s good for your body. Whether it’s the physiological changes that occur during the warmth of a sauna, or if it’s simply the time spent in the calming and still retreat of the sauna, every seasoned sauna bather agrees – it feels wonderful! As we progress through our stressful everyday lives, the sauna provides a pampering retreat – where we can relax and restore body and soul. Sauna bathing truly makes you “Feel Better”, “Look Better” and “Sleep Better”!
DISADVANTAGES OF SAUNA BATH
Now, there are several things that need to be taken into consideration before going for a sauna bath. Apart from the sauna etiquette, it is essential to follow other methods before actually using a sauna bath. For e.g., people are advised to be properly hydrated before going for a sauna bath. This is because, one of the major disadvantages of sauna is that it can cause dehydration. As you tend to sweat a lot in a sauna bath, there are high chances of dehydration to occur. Dehydration can range from mild to severe, and can lead to symptoms like fainting, headache, and dizziness.
As a continuation of the above, dehydration can be really serious in case of people suffering from disorders related to the blood pressure. Dehydration can cause the blood pressure to lower, which can be dangerous in case of people who already suffer from a low blood pressure. This can also be life-threatening to people suffering from heart disorders. On the contrary, if you are aware of the health benefits of sauna bath, you must be knowing that it increases the blood circulation in the body. The
increased circulation puts a pressure on the heart to beat faster. This can also be dangerous for people suffering from disorders related to blood pressure and the heart.
Another sauna bath disadvantage is that it is not recommended for pregnant women. It is believed that the heat and the steam in the sauna, and the increased blood circulation is potentially hazardous for the fetus. Therefore, pregnant women are advised against sauna. Secondly, although sauna bath is recommended for people for treating respiratory disorders; it can cause breathing problems in some people. People experience difficulty in breathing, specially in case of dry sauna.
Last but not the least, problems related to cleanliness and hygiene cannot be ignored when taking about sauna bath problems. Both, the dry as well as wet sauna creates a humid environment which can be a breeding ground for several bacteria and pathogens. Secondly, several types of fungi multiply very quickly in the humid and wet environment. There is no sunlight to get rid of these pathogens. Therefore, there are high chances of infections, specially fungal infections to occur.
There are several claims that having a regular sauna helps in losing weight quickly. It should be noted that although sauna helps in enhancing metabolism which is required for weight loss; it is not alone responsible for losing weight. For an effective and natural weight loss, it is essential to follow a proper and regular diet and exercise program. Although not a disadvantage, sauna claimed to help in weight loss is surely misleading.
However, it is found that the benefits of sauna are greater in number than the disadvantage. But still, it is advisable to consult the doctor before going for a sauna bath on a regular basis. Take care!