Are Saunas Good For You?

Saunas have long been advertised as chambers of paradise that take relaxation to the next level.

As saunas become increasingly used as eras roll by, it’s important to look deep into safety requisites to understand the modern mechanism better. It is, after all, a small room that grows increasingly hot rather quickly. There will be a definite benefit in knowing more about such machinations before stepping into — what could be — your Iron Maiden.

According to Medical News Today, the history of saunas dates back to as far as the Mayan civilization, where iterations of the therapeutic steam room have evolved into today’s relaxation wonders. In the same medical article, it was mentioned that the Finnish have been using saunas for thousands of years and that 1 in 3 Finns are still using them. 

There’s an ongoing prevalence with the use of saunas. The United States, for one, has an estimate of over a million saunas. Such widespread use demands a level of information before using. There have been recorded incidents that involve saunas in various places in the world, and, in many cases, knowing a bit more about protocols and their use could save people from injuries or even death. Prominence demands information.

What Are The Health Benefits of Sauna Use?

For the most part, saunas have been beneficial to the cardiovascular system — the human heart, to be more precise. According to Harvard Medical School, “a sauna benefits your heart health, as long as you practice sauna safety.”

Harvard recognized the health benefits of the sauna as fact. However, it is fictitious to say that saunas are 100% safe.

Is a Dry or Wet Sauna Better?

How a sauna is heated, and the humidity level usually doesn’t affect the sauna’s effects on the body. In any case, generally speaking, the results are similar.

As the body stews inside a sauna, blood vessels expand, and heart rates ascend. These effects are pretty similar to light to medium workouts — the duration of the session being the modifier each time.

As the heart rate spikes to 100-150 beats per minute, the body will likely undergo health benefits.

One of the most common benefits that enthusiasts look forward to is the easing of pain. Studies have proven that increased blood circulation provides muscle relief, enhances joint improvement, and improves overall relaxation. Arthritis pain has also been known to be eased during and after sauna baths. Stress Reduction is another popular benefit from regular sauna sessions.

Saunas also have been reported to open up sinuses and alleviate skin problems. Saunas dry the skin during the session and have been found to work wonders for people with psoriasis. It’s also been found that saunas would relieve those with asthma as it opens airways, loosens phlegm, and reduces stress.

Do Saunas Improve Cardiovascular Health?

Connections have been made between the stress reduction effect saunas have and cardiovascular health improvement.

In a study conducted in Finland, researchers followed 2,315 men of ages 42 to 60 for 20 years. The findings suggest that subjects who frequent saunas may have “a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.”

After recalibrating the study for cardiovascular risk factors, increased sauna use was seemingly connected with “a reduced risk of fatal cardiovascular-related diseases.”

Participants who frequented saunas two or three times a week were found to be 22 percent less likely to experience a sudden cardiac death compared to those who only went once in 7 days.

The researchers, however, did put out a disclaimer that there is still much research to be done before they make a conclusive link between the use of saunas and the decrease in deaths from heart diseases.

Sauna Side Effects

The dry heat coming off these closed rooms can heighten skin temperature to about 104° F in mere minutes. 185° F can potentially have devastating effects on the body. To help visualize, Harvard Medical School stated that “the average person will pour out a pint of sweat during a short stint in a sauna.”

The pulse rate, on the other hand, can jump by 30% or even more. In these circumstances, the heart is pushed to nearly doubling the amount of blood it pumps in every given minute.

The majority of blood our heart produces is directed to the skin. Regular circulation moves blood away from the internal organs. Further, blood pressure is a wildcard, often rising in some people but falling in many others in sporadic instances.

In light of this, it is highly recommended for people with heart diseases or high blood pressure to consult an expert before getting the complete sauna experience.

Safety Precautions

For many occasions, saunas are relatively cases for patrons young and old. However, it is always recommended to follow general precautions. Here is a couple from Harvard Medical School:

  • Cool down gradually afterward.
  • Drink two to four glasses of cool water after each sauna.
  • Avoid alcohol and medications that may impair sweating and produce overheating before and after your sauna.
  • Stay in no more than 15–20 minutes.
  • Don’t take a sauna when you are ill, and if you feel unwell during your sauna, head for the door.

Medical News Today also shared a list of people who should avoid saunas:

Avoid alcohol and medications that may impair sweating and produce overheating before and after your sauna.

  • pregnant women
  • anyone with heart disease
  • those with very low or high blood pressure
  • anyone with epilepsy
  • those taking antibiotics
  • users of mind-altering drugs, such as stimulants, tranquilizers, or alcohol

Healthline, a medical news website, released a list of conditions that should be taken into account if an individual is considering using the sauna.

  • asthma or other breathing conditions
  • heart disease
  • pregnancy
  • epilepsy
  • very high or low blood pressure
  • people under the influence of alcohol
  • those taking stimulants, tranquilizers, or other mind-altering drugs

Saunas, while proven to have positive effects on the body, still need to be studied further. It definitely can work wonders for a fatigued body that needs all the rejuvenation it can get. But it should not be considered an alternative to good old-fashioned exercise and a healthy diet.

Your body is a temple. While trying new things is exciting, people should always be responsible for taking necessary precautions before subjecting their bodies to new and uncharted things.

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