Saunas and wellness are inseparable. The full scope of health benefits that your at-home sauna can bring to you is nothing short of amazing. Ready to be amazed? Start right here!
Getting to Know the Different Types of Saunas
Did you know there are two different ways that the sauna experience is delivered? The choice is between a traditional sauna and an infrared sauna. Which one is better?
Well, it’s not about which one is the “better” sauna, it’s about the sauna experience that’s right for you, and the one you’ll enjoy using the most. This distinction should help:
- If you enjoy steam in the sauna, higher temperatures, and a more social environment, then a traditional sauna may be the best sauna for you. These saunas can be indoor or outdoor.
- If you prefer lower temperatures but with body-penetrating heat, an infrared sauna may be your best sauna choice. These saunas are designed only for indoor use.
If you’d like to learn more about the two sauna types, please check out our resource guide here. In the meantime, let’s explore saunas’ many health benefits!
1. Saunas Are Good for Your Cardiovascular Health
In both a traditional and infrared sauna, the skin heats up and the core body temperature increases. The heat also makes the blood vessels near the skin dilate and increases “cardiac output” in a sauna session. Research varies on heart rate numbers, but it’s believed the heart rate can increase from 60-70 bpm (beats per minute) to 110-120 bpm in the sauna (or even 140-150 bpm in a more intense session) and the heart rate post-bathing can go below normal as the body cools down.
What does this all mean for regular sauna usage? We can train our heart muscles and improve the heart rate/cardiac output at the same time helping the body’s regulatory system. For extra “cardiovascular conditioning,” bathers can do multiple sessions in the sauna separated by cool immersion into water. When this quick temperature changeover happens (from hot to cold), your heart rate increases by as much as 60% – pretty comparable to the increase experienced during moderate exercise.
Since elevated blood pressure is one of the biggest risk factors in cardiovascular disease, it’s also important to discuss how frequent sauna use can lead to lower blood pressure. As an example, a University of Eastern Finland study (published by the American Journal of Hypertension) showed “the risk of developing elevated blood pressure was nearly 50% lower among men who had a sauna 4-7 times a week compared to men who had a sauna only once a week.”
Sauna use may also be linked to other cardiovascular benefits including reduced risk of stroke and hypertension and decreased risk of fatal cardiac incidents. It also can help fight depression and anxiety. Saunas also have notable benefits in cold and dark climates where people may be less active and more prone to obesity and heart-health risks.
2. Saunas Are Good for Your Brain and Mental Health
Following up on #1, did you know that the vast majority of disease (like heart disease) is partially linked to stress? Stress and anxiety do more damage to the body than may meet the eye, and saunas are effective in boosting endorphins and making you feel GOOD. It lets you truly exhale away the worries of the real world. Learn more on our 6 Key Benefits of Having A Home Sauna page.
3. Saunas Are Effective for Pain Management
Some magic happens in the sauna when heat releases! First, endorphins release into the body. Not only do endorphins make you feel good, they also have a mild and enjoyable “tranquilizing effect” —helping minimize the feelings of pain, especially in the joints and muscles.
At the same time, your increased body temperature increases blood circulation since your blood vessels dilate from the heat. This increased blood flow speeds up the body’s natural healing process and can help soothe pain and muscle aches, reduce muscle tension, spasms or cramps, eliminate lactic acid and/or other toxins that may be present, and may possibly speed up the healing of minor bruises or cuts.
4. Saunas Release Harmful Toxins from The Body
In everyday life, we come into contact with pesticides, industrial chemicals and other toxins, whether it’s through food, household cleaners, or beauty products. Toxins can collect in your body’s fatty tissue, in your organs (liver, kidneys), fat cells, and in your lymph system. The accumulation of toxins has been linked to things like weight gain, brain fog and fatigue.
How can you get rid of toxins? Deep sweating is key, and there is no better way to do this than a sauna.
Simply put, most of us don’t actively sweat on a daily basis, which is unfortunate since deep sweating has a wealth of health benefits. In a sauna, sweating is profuse and effective due to the heat that makes the core body temperature rise so much. The blood vessels dilate and cause increased blood flow; once it reaches the skin’s surface, the nervous system tells the millions of sweat glands that cover the human body to start working!
Sweat is composed of 99% water and it’s designed to cool the body. In deep sweat, the body may be effective at better reducing toxins like lead, copper, zinc, nickel, mercury, solvents, organic chemicals, PCBs, pharmaceuticals, heavy metal toxins and other chemicals commonly absorbed just from interacting with our daily environment. It’s also believed that sauna sessions can clear out about one-third of the toxic material that your kidneys remove from your bloodstream.
High temperatures also increase the body’s ability to kill bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses.
It’s also important to note the power of infrared saunas more specifically. Regular saunas heat the skin superficially, causing an opening of the sweat glands and allowing excess water to escape. Infrared saunas penetrate to a depth of 5-7 cm or 1.5 inches. At this depth, our fat cells are stimulated to cause a release of toxins to the surface. Compared to other saunas which only heat 20% of the air, 93% of the heat energy emitted from a FIR sauna is absorbed by our body tissues – which may signal a deeper detoxification experience by using infrared saunas.
5. Saunas Help Boost Immunity
Are saunas good for colds? It’s a pretty common question to explore the connection between saunas and colds but taking a step back—saunas can boost immunity before you get a cold.
When you raise your body’s temperature (by inducing an artificial fever), it helps kill bacteria and viruses by increasing white blood cells, antibodies, and other disease fighting agents. As your body works to lower its temperature, your immune system is “exercising” and getting stronger.
More specifically, the number of white blood cells may increase as much as 58 percent with sauna temperatures, and your T cells and antibodies may increase by as much as 2,000 percent. Plus, lots of harmful microbes die off at temperatures of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. All of this is great for immunity.
So, can saunas help with colds? It can help you feel better. In more traditional saunas (that have steam/higher humidity), it can also help open the nasal passages, assist the sinuses to drain, and help relieve minor respiratory discomforts. Do saunas help colds in terms of timing? It’s possible that damaged cells repair themselves quicker in fever conditions due to an increased metabolic rate, so you’ll have to test it out and see!
6. Saunas Help Maintain A Healthy Weight and Fit Lifestyle
If you’ve ever Googled these phrases (“are saunas good for weight loss” or “can saunas help with weight loss”), you already know that the connection between saunas and losing weight exists.
However, saunas are not a magic weight loss tool whereby after a single session, you are down a few permanent pounds. That water weight lost during a sweating session will come back, but saunas are effective pairings for weight maintenance.
Here’s what saunas can do for your weight:
- Torch calories. When the heart rate increases, the body needs more oxygen and the body begins to convert more calories into usable energy. It’s believed that a 20-40-minute infrared sauna session can burn 200-500 calories, as many as rowing a boat for 30 minutes or running several miles.
- Help with overall fitness. It helps you meet your fitness goals with things like improved strength training through boosted growth hormones and improved recovery times.
- Helps burn fat deposits. These fat deposits get removed from the muscles and make room for newly formed muscle cells. By increasing the body’s metabolic process, you burn more calories (including the ones when you worked out). As a bonus detail, fat becomes water-soluble at a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit before it begins to dissolve and enter the bloodstream to be removed from the body.
- Increases fat metabolism. This can help with weight loss.
So, while saunas are not the complete magic solution to weight loss or weight maintenance, they can help you meet your weight goals.
7. Saunas Are Powerful for Youthful Skin and Overall Skin Health
Are saunas good for skin? Research indicates that saunas may indeed be a fountain of youth!
Heat bathing is one of the oldest beauty tricks for skin. Deep sauna sweating cleanses the skin, removes bacteria from the epidermal layer and sweat ducts, clears out pores, and replaces dead skin cells. With boosted capillary circulation, skin looks softer and more youthful. Heat bathing is also believed to be effective in maintaining the collagen structure of the skin, helping fight off wrinkles.
Can saunas help with acne? While a dermatologist is the best source of acne treatment and recommendations, there is some notable research to share.
There are two major types of glands in your skin that secrete substances to help it: Sweat glands and sebaceous glands. Sebaceous glands surround your hair follicles and secrete a waxy substance, called sebum, onto the surface of your skin and help moisturize it and repel water from your skin. When your sebaceous glands get blocked (via dead skin, cosmetics, bacteria, etc.), you can get a blackhead if the blockage is at the surface of your skin. If the blockage is underneath, you get a whitehead, pimple or a boil. In the sauna, the heat makes the sebum more fluid, and helps rid itself of the toxins and helps unclog pores.
How else are saunas good for your skin? In addition to firming and improving skin tone, saunas may also be beneficial help with skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and cellulite, but these are all discussions you should have with your dermatologist.
8. Saunas Are Linked to Effective Prevention/Management of Many Health Conditions and Ailments
As with all health conditions and ailments, people should work directly with their doctor in terms of diagnosis and treatment, but we can share some medical findings around health and sauna use outlined below. It’s important to note that for this particular benefit, research seems to support the use of infrared saunas specifically, as this heat can more deeply penetrate the body.
- Saunas and arthritis: Arthritis causes joint inflammation which often restricts blood flow, and it’s painful. Are saunas good for arthritis? In the infrared heated sauna, pain relief is instantaneous. The sauna also helps dramatically enhance circulation to the joints, relax tense ligaments and tendons, and experience some relief.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are highly variable and fluctuate in severity, and treatment can be complex. Some researchers believe that these sufferers struggle with toxic build-up. Of infrared saunas, Dr. Michael R. Lyon says: “For the chronic fatigue patient, a consistent program of infrared sauna therapy will assist the problem of autonomic dysregulation, which is common to the condition. Symptoms of autonomic dysregulation are muscle pain, digestive problems, visual disturbances, and dizziness. These symptoms are reduced, as regular sauna therapy induces normal autonomic functioning. Through extensive research, it has been shown that saunas greatly assist in the elimination of accumulated toxins.”
- Fibromyalgia: Similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the exact cause of Fibromyalgia is not known, but it’s also believed that these patients may have high toxins (heavy metal poisoning like mercury, lead and arsenic) and their detoxification pathways are often compromised. Infrared saunas are helpful in working to restore normal autonomic nervous system functioning – the part of the body that governs unconscious functions such as muscle tension, sweating, blood pressure, digestion and balance.
- Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Frequent sauna use has been linked to lower risk for these conditions.
- Physical Disabilities: Infrared sauna therapy makes it possible for people in wheelchairs, or those who have a disability that affects their ability to exercise, to achieve a cardiovascular training effect.
9. Saunas Are an Effective Sleep-Booster
Short and sweet, saunas can help you kick insomnia to the curb and get better sleep. As part of your daily routine, a sauna before bed can finally help you get the sleep you need, not to mention better and more restful sleep that impacts all other facets of your life.
10. As Part of Your Regular Routine, A Sauna Can Help You Be Your Healthiest and Most Relaxed Self Whenever You Need It
The more you use your sauna, the more you can experience all these incredible health benefits. These saunas come in both traditional and infrared models across many options, are affordable, easy to maintain, and accessible to you 24/7 for immediate use once you welcome one into your home.
Ready to Take Advantage of a Home Sauna’s Health Benefits?
There are so many sauna options to choose from and Mainely Tubs would love to help work with you on this process! At Mainely Tubs, we are here for you throughout the entire process – from initial consideration, to sauna comparisons, to delivery day. When you are ready, give us a call, email us, or pop by our showrooms in Scarborough, Maine or Rye, New Hampshire. We’re always happy to help you make the first steps to becoming a new sauna owner!
About Mainely Tubs in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts
Mainely Tubs is a 100% Employee Owned premier Hot Spring Spas dealer. We sell and service new hot tubs, used hot tubs, portable spas, swim spas, saunas, gazebos, hot tub accessories, hot tub water treatment, and more. Our Brands Include: Hot Spring Spas, Caldera Spas, Freeflow Spas, Nordic Spas, Endless Pools Swim Spas, Finnleo Saunas, Covana, Pool & Spa Enclosures, Leisure Time, Fresh Water, Silk Balance, and other brands you can trust.
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