Saunas are cool. Wow, that was an unintentional wordplay. Okay, so how do you feel about them? They might help more than we give them credit.
These hot, steamy rooms have been going in and out of fashion for ages, it seems. The health benefits of spending some time in a sauna are immense; no wonder it has been a staple in so many cultures. However, there has been a certain air of controversy around them, too. Some have claimed that spending time in saunas can do more damage than good. But, how much of it is really true? Let’s see how and if we can benefit from “sweating it out” in a hot room.
Reduce Blood Pressure & Improves Heart Health
Science Daily has published several studies done at the University of Eastern Finland (sources: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170929093346.htm https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150223122602.htm), which have shown significant results on men. The ones who have been going to a sauna 4-5 times a week had a 50% less chance of having issues with elevated blood pressure compared to those who went once a week. Also, frequent visits to a steam room have shown links to less risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases.
Improves Muscle Recovery
If your muscles feel “destroyed” after some heavy lifting, sweating in the sauna might alleviate the pain. Springerplus study has shown that spending time in a “sweat room” can improve recovery after exercise. Especially, infrared saunas have proven to be effective at helping muscles recover. That sounds like great motivation to smash that leg day, doesn’t it?
Sweating Helps With Alzheimer’s?
Those Finnish people went all-in with their sauna studies. They really love sweating in steamy rooms! Turns out it’s for a good reason since one study (source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27932366/) has proven that middle-aged men who “sweat it out” more often (4-5 times per week) are less likely to get Alzheimer’s or dementia than the ones who are less frequent in their sweaty sessions. Since this is a result of one study, we can’t be completely sure, but it does sound promising.
Similar to muscle soreness after a hard workout, spending time in a sauna can alleviate pain such as the one in your joints or knees, or arthritis pain. Your pain reduces because of the increased blood flow due to the sauna.
Myths About Saunas
Saunas can benefit us in more ways than one, but we have heard some of the misconceptions about how helpful saunas can be. Here are a couple of them:
- They can “detoxify” the body – Have you noticed how people enjoy throwing around the word “detox” these days? Yup, we have detox teas, detox nutrition, and freaking detox saunas, as well. Hate to burst that bubble, but it isn’t true. The true “detox” happens in our kidneys and liver, and it has nothing to do with excessive sweating.
- Saunas improve everyone’s skin – There haven’t been any studies that have shown significant link between any forms of steaming and skin health (even though many people love to claim how steaming “opens” our pores – it really doesn’t). However, if you have dry and sensitive skin, especially eczema, saunas can make the situation even worse.
- They cure colds – Not only is that untrue, but everyone will hate you for getting into a steam room with flu symptoms. Exposing yourself to such high temperatures and sweating can make your symptoms worse. So, don’t jeopardize your health nor be inconsiderate by going there with cold symptoms.
Are Saunas Safe During COVID-19?
According to International IHRSA (Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association), using saunas can be safe. (source: https://www.ihrsa.org/improve-your-club/pool-hot-tub-sauna-safety-during-covid-19/#).
Wood furniture in saunas amid very high temperatures (158-212°F) can make it difficult, almost impossible for any virus to survive that long. However, social distancing is strongly advised for several reasons. It also depends on the size of the saunas. Also, if you feel any worrying symptoms of a cold (or COVID-19) it is strongly advised that you avoid going to saunas. Or socializing in general. Just don’t.
We hope this steamy article (pun most certainly intended) helped you in liking saunas a bit more. Let us know how you feel about saunas. Does it match your beliefs or culture? Let’s see.
Article inspo source: https://www.dmarge.com/2018/10/health-benefits-saunas.html
Saunas are actually quite nice to sit in for a while, but when it comes to the size and space offered by the average sauna it’s wise to be safe about sitting in one with too many people. Plus, if you’re not a big lover of the heat like I’m not, then a sauna might not be for you anyway. Try a hot tub.