Are you dreaming of a pampering sauna session after a long day? That hot room unwinds the body and mind like no other! And phew! That is quite an experience to feel relaxed inside out post-session. A sauna session is known to many as a relaxation method. But other benefits of sauna contribute to physical and mental health. Scandinavians are known for using saunas from childhood for cleansing, relaxation, and weight loss.
Saunas use dry heat from a stove or hot rocks to increase the room temperature to 90.5°C with very low humidity. The heart pumps more blood when there is an increase in skin temperature, pulse rate and dilation of the blood vessels. It helps in flushing out toxins from the body by sweating. Let us explore more on the benefits of a sauna to the body.
What are the benefits of a sauna for the body?
If you are looking forward to relaxing post a workout session, check out these benefits of the sauna. They can relax, refresh and charge both mind and body.
- Relaxation after a burnout or post-workout session:
Both men and women often feel burnout after a busy schedule at the office. It causes irritation and lack of focus and negatively impacts their work-life balance.
A sauna session would relax the body as there is improved blood circulation, and heat also relaxes the muscles, including that of the face and neck, which are typically stiff after a long tiring day. It makes one more alert and less perceptive to pain too. It is best to use this for relaxing after a workout session. Practising meditation during this time can help in their mental well-being as well.
In a world where youngsters are too busy with work and real life, they tend to ignore heart health. The death of many celebrities due to cardiac arrest has left people wondering about one’s heart health. The sauna can aid in maintaining one’s heart health by destressing.
High temperatures and induced sweating are beneficial for heart health. A Finnish study investigated the association between the frequency and duration of sauna use and heart disease. The 21-year data collection suggested a lesser risk of heart disease of almost 50%.
Detoxification is essential as many toxins are introduced into the human body through food, water and air pollutants. The liver and kidneys are the organs responsible for removing toxins from the body.
Findings in the 2016 study and 2012 study suggest that toxins were most highly found in sweat when compared to their presence in other bodily fluids like urine and blood. So sweating during a sauna session may release toxins from the body or skin and aid in detoxification.
Binge eating, partying, late-night work hours, and lack of sleep are inevitable in the current lifestyle. Muscle stiffness and joint pains are a companion of a millennial as a result.
The blood vessels relax and dilate due to the heat in a sauna, and blood flow increases as the heart pumps more blood. Thus there is improved blood circulation, and more oxygen reaches the area. It relieves sore muscles and rigid joints. In a study, it is found that saunas help to ease lower back pain.
Everything and everybody are on Instagram these days. As a result, people like to look on point all the time. They also take care of their skin, which helps maintain healthy, youthful-looking skin.
Sweating from sauna bathing can help cleanse skin as the heat draws out the bacteria from the sweat ducts, opens up the pores improves blood circulation. It makes the skin soft and supple and decreases the chances of getting acne.
Sleep issues are common these days. The busy schedules in the fast-paced world often force people to stay wide awake and complete tasks. The human body has a circadian rhythm that enables men to sleep and wake up at a fixed time. Frequent usage of electronic gadgets like computers, mobiles etc., emits blue light and disturbs the regular sleep pattern.
A sauna session just before bedtime increases the chances of a deeper sleep as the body will try to cool down the increased heat. It is relaxing and helps in a calm, deep sleep throughout the night.
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- Reduces chronic pain and inflammation:
Most people suffer from some sort of chronic pain and inflammation conditions arising due to their lifestyle. The work and sedentary lifestyle contribute to the worsening of musculoskeletal disorders like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, as well as chronic headaches.
Such high inflammation levels in the body can be reduced by heat. So, the sauna benefits such people who are otherwise unable to exercise due to the pain experienced.
Saunas have proven benefits in heart health and lowering inflammation, thus contributing to increased lifespan. FOXO3, the longevity gene and its variants are connected to a lower risk for age-related diseases, fewer bone fractures, and a lower incidence of heart disease and cancer. This gene also gets activated by the heat stress in saunas. Cell regeneration slows the ageing process. All these contribute to increasing the lifespan.
- Decreases the Alzheimers and dementia risk:
Alzheimer’s causes the brain to shrink and cells die over time. There still exists no cure for it. In a 2017 study published in the journal Age and Ageing, the researchers collected data for 21 years and found that moderate to high frequency of sauna use decreased the risk of cognitive decline.
Caring about one’s brain health is crucial from a young age. The brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF increases through regular sauna use, boosting brain health, growth of new brain cells, better maintenance of existing cells, and improving neuroplasticity, the brain’s process for forming new neural connections.
- Improved physical fitness:
Many are conscious about physical fitness and workout at the gym, cycle, Zumba etc. Sometimes it causes burnout, increased fatigue, muscle stiffness etc. A sauna bath after a hard workout may help the body recover faster and perform better.
Athletes and fitness freaks can benefit from regular sauna sessions as it releases endorphins and causes blood vessels to dilate, increasing blood circulation and speeding up the healing process. It can also be a great relaxation method that calms the mind. The sauna can thus benefit a person’s physical and mental well-being.
Sauna and weight loss
Contrary to popular belief, saunas aren’t a practical solution for weight loss because the only weight lost is “fluid lost” from the body. The body will replenish the lost fluid as soon as the body takes in food or drinks. Ensure you drink plenty of water to replenish lost fluids after using the sauna. The longer time spent and consumption of alcohol in a sauna should be avoided entirely, as they can be more damaging than good.
Different types of saunas are wood-burning saunas, electrically heated and infrared saunas. Whatever the type of sauna is, its effects on the body are similar. As the heat stress in a sauna improves circulation, it may promote relaxation. This can improve feelings of well-being.
The moderate use of a sauna appears to be safe for most people. However, a person with cardiovascular disease, low blood pressure, kidney disease, and dehydration issues should speak to a doctor first. Also, people with psoriasis should consult their dermatologists before using them, as their symptoms can aggravate.
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