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Article: 7 Health Benefits of Sweating in a Sauna

7 Health Benefits of Sweating in a Sauna

7 Health Benefits of Sweating in a Sauna

Written by Chris Lang

When it comes to the many forms of relaxation available, the health benefits of sauna bathing are numerous. Sweating it out in a sauna is not just a relaxing experience; it can also have a profound impact on your overall well-being. From heart health to stress reduction, this guide will delve into why incorporating sauna sessions into your routine is worth every drop of sweat.

What Is Sauna Bathing?

Before digging into the big benefits of sweating in a sauna, let’s begin with some basic sauna information every user needs to know.

Definition and History

The word “sauna” has its roots in the Finnish language, and it’s in Finland that saunas are believed to have first originated, thousands of years ago. The classic Finnish sauna bath consists of an enclosed room with a container filled with hot stones. The stones emit radiant heat, warming the space up to very high temperatures. Users can also pour water onto the stones to moisten the air.

The Finnish-style sauna has been used for generations, but other sauna types have been used in different parts of the world as well, including Russia, Turkey, Japan, and beyond. Over the years, the practice of sauna bathing has spread far and wide, developing into a major modern-day wellness trend. Indeed, estimates suggest that the sauna industry is rising in popularity and value, year after year.

Types of Saunas

The traditional or Finnish type of sauna room is just one of several varieties. There are also infrared (IR) saunas, which make use of infrared heaters. This produces a gentler experience than a traditional sauna, with a lower maximum temperature. Steam rooms are also commonly linked with saunas – they fill the space with steam, leading to very high humidity levels.

The Health Benefits of Sauna Bathing

Saunas have long been linked with health and wellness, and there are many scientifically proven traditional sauna health benefits. Let’s take a look at some of the best benefits of sweating in a sauna.

Improved Cardiovascular Health

Reports suggest that using a sauna regularly can offer an array of benefits for a person’s heart health. One study, for example, concluded that those who enjoy regular sauna bathing may have a reduced risk of various heart-related health issues, like cardiovascular disease. In other words, repeated sauna bathing may help people live longer.

Sauna bathing has also been shown to improve and reduce blood pressure in those who suffer from high blood pressure, or hypertension. This is due to how the heat of the sauna bath causes blood vessels to widen. As the vessels widen, more blood cells can flow through them at a faster rate, reducing the overall pressure levels and helping to transport oxygen around the body.

Stress Reduction and Relaxation

One of the first things many people say after trying a sauna session for the first time is how relaxing it is. The soothing warmth of that cozy, enclosed space can make people feel really relaxed, and scientists have even found that frequent sauna bathing may help to reduce a person’s risk of psychotic disorders.

Surveys of frequent sauna users have also demonstrated that “stress relief” is one of the most commonly cited reasons for spending time in a sauna. What’s more, certain studies have shown that a possible effect of sauna bathing is boosting brain health and cognitive function. And, with a healthier mind, people may be more likely to enjoy a happier mental state.

Enhanced Skin Health

Even skin health can enjoy a notable boost from sitting in a sauna for a while. Studies have shown that regular use of a sauna may provide a kind of protective benefit to the skin, aiding with the surface pH levels and water-holding capacities. The report found that those who used the sauna demonstrated more stable epidermal barriers and faster recovery from water loss.

Other studies have shown how the heat of a sauna can help to improve the body’s circulation, with more blood flowing through the widened blood vessels. This, too, may help to improve skin health, as the increase of oxygen and nutrients to be delivered to the skin’s cells may help it look more youthful and radiant.

The Science Behind Sauna Benefits

It’s clear that regular sauna bathing may offer a surprisingly wide array of health benefits for both body and mind. And it can be helpful to understand the scientific explanations behind those benefits. Let’s dig into the physiological effects of heavy sweating for sauna users.

Effect of Sauna Bathing on the Body

The idea of using heat to heal or soothe the body goes back to ancient times, and there are reams of scientific and anecdotal evidence to support the idea that warm temperatures can make people feel better. And that, in a nutshell, is why saunas are so popular and have proven to provide so many potential health benefits.

The high temperatures of these spaces help the blood vessels widen. That leads to improved circulation. And, with more blood, oxygen, and nutrients flowing to key organs and muscles throughout the body, it’s only logical that people tend to experience positive effects. Their muscles recover faster, their lungs feel better, and any inflammation in their body is also eased.

Sauna Bathing and Cardiorespiratory Fitness

Studies have even suggested that sauna bathing may help with respiratory health and well-being, reducing a person’s risk of various respiratory diseases. One very promising review, in particular, found that those who were already suffering from lung disease could experience transient improvement of lung function related to sauna use.

Sauna Bathing and Your Overall Well-Being

Finland is one of the countries where people use saunas the most, and it’s also routinely ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world. Just a coincidence? Perhaps, but there’s also a lot of evidence to suggest that sauna bathing can improve overall well-being and happiness for users. It’s clear the Finns have discovered that time in the sauna can improve overall wellness.

Mental Health Benefits

As touched on earlier in this guide, research has shown that visiting a sauna can promote a happier mental state. There are various potential explanations for this. It could be that the intense heat and relaxing vibe of the sauna bath simply makes people forget their worries and stresses for a while. Or, the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving powers of saunas may help people feel happy and relaxed.

In either case, many sauna users say that they feel calmer while spending time in the sauna and even after they get out. Most (over 80% of respondents in a global sauna survey) say that they also enjoy improved sleep quality after taking a sauna bath. And it’s well-known that getting a good night’s rest can aid with a more positive and peaceful mental state.

Detoxification and Weight Loss

Sauna detoxification is another topic of discussion when it comes to the benefits of sweating in a sauna. Many sauna brands and companies claim that sitting in a sauna can help people essentially “sweat out” toxins from their bodies. There is a little truth to this, as reports show that sweat can contain trace amounts of heavy metals, though saunas shouldn’t be relied upon solely for detoxing.

Another often-cited benefit of using a sauna for 15 minutes is the possibility of weight loss, with some users noting that they feel lighter when stepping out of the sauna bath. However, research shows that most weight loss associated with sauna use is only temporary – it’s caused by the water loss of heavy sweating. So, you can’t necessarily count on sauna sessions to hit long-term weight loss goals.

Safety Considerations and Risks

There are clearly many benefits of sauna use. But saunas also pose potential health risks if used irresponsibly or incorrectly. Prospective users therefore need to be aware of the adverse health effects of spending time in a sauna for too long.

Sauna Safety Guidelines

Rule No. 1 when it comes to regular sauna use is to make sure you’re always hydrated. That means drinking water before stepping into the sauna and after you get out, too. Since the heat of the sauna causes people to sweat so much, it’s easy for your body’s hydration levels to drop quite rapidly, even after just 10 or 15 minutes in the sauna.

Another essential safety rule related to sauna use is to avoid spending too long in the sauna or operating it at a temperature with which you’re not comfortable. In pursuit of health benefits, some people go overboard, spending way too long in the sauna or cranking it up to maximum temperatures. It’s much safer and better for you to stick to short sessions and increase the temperature gradually.

Potential Risks and Adverse Effects

As we mentioned, the most common risk associated with spending time in the sauna is dehydration – that’s why staying hydrated is so important. As you sweat, your body loses water, and that can lead to an array of symptoms, like tiredness, lightheadedness, and so on. Always drink before and after each sauna session to avoid this.

Users who have pre-existing health conditions should also be careful before using a sauna. You should consult with your doctor if you have heart problems, respiratory issues, or even a skin condition, for instance, before starting a sauna session. With that said, even if you have a health problem, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t use the sauna – some research has shown that patients with heart failure can experience improvements in their health from using the sauna.

Incorporating Sauna Sessions Into Your Routine

If you’d like to experience the unique benefits of sweating in a sauna, you’ll want to make sauna bathing a part of your lifestyle. Here are some expert tips and tricks to do this in the safest and smartest way.

If you’re just starting with sauna bathing, it’s best to begin slow, with relatively short and low-temperature sessions. That’ll give your body time to adjust to the heat before you build up towards longer and more frequent spells in the sauna.

Frequency and Duration of Sauna Baths

To begin, it’s best to opt for short and infrequent sauna baths. That means you can consider a bath of around 10 minutes, once or twice a week. And avoid turning the temperature up too high. If you feel uncomfortable at all, step out and take a break. Over time, your body will get used to the heat of the sauna and you can work up towards slightly longer and more frequent sessions of 15 minutes a few times per week. Contact the sauna specialist Komowa for advice on the right sauna routine.

Tips for Maximizing Sauna Benefits

To get the most out of every sauna session, keep these tips in mind:

  • Take a shower before and after using the sauna to wash away and dirt, grime, or oils in your pores.

  • Keep your sessions short to avoid overheating.

  • Brush or tap your skin while in the sauna to promote circulation and exfoliation.

  • Always stay hydrated when using the sauna.

  • Stretch out into a comfortable pose and lie down, if possible to spread the heat across your entire body.

Sauna for Different Health Goals

You might have different objectives in mind when using the sauna. Here’s how to get the best results and hit your targets.

Using Saunas for Athletic Performance

Many athletes and exercise enthusiasts step into the sauna after big games and intense workouts. Studies show that it can offer various benefits for recovery, soothing tired and sore muscles to help get you ready for your next event, as well as helping with muscle growth and gains.

To maximize benefits, it’s generally recommended to use the sauna after working out, but make sure you drink some water before stepping in.

Sauna Use for Specific Health Conditions

Scientific research has also shown that sauna use may help to boost immune response and ease inflammation or lower a person’s risk of health conditions like dementia or heart disease. The anti-inflammatory powers of sauna may also help to ease sore joints or muscles caused by arthritis and chronic pain conditions. If you intend to use a sauna to alleviate a specific health issue, speak with your doctor beforehand for expert advice.

Sauna and Holistic Wellness

It’s important to note that, even though there are many benefits of sweating in a sauna, you shouldn’t rely entirely on saunas as your sole source of health and well-being. Instead, sauna sessions should just be one part of a holistic lifestyle, which can also incorporate multiple other elements, like a healthy diet and regular exercise.

When combined with other wellness practices, the benefits of saunas should be much clearer to see, contributing to a happier mental state and a healthier body.

Final Thoughts

As this guide shows, the benefits of sauna bathing are numerous and varied. Those who spend time in saunas on a regular basis can witness a whole host of improvements to their mental and physical state, from a healthier heart to a happier mind. And, when combined with other wellness practices, frequent sauna use can undoubtedly become a crucial cornerstone of a healthy life.

Conclusion: Enjoy the Healing Benefits of a Sauna Bath

In this in-depth exploration of sauna bathing, we’ve uncovered a multitude of health benefits, from improved cardiovascular health to stress reduction and enhanced skin health. Whether you're seeking relaxation, fitness gains, or overall well-being, the sauna may be your secret weapon. Remember to follow safety guidelines and make sauna sessions a regular part of your health routine to reap the proven benefits of sauna use. Contact Komowa to learn more.

 

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