Saunas have been around for centuries, and the deeply calming practice of using one continues to be an integral part of many people’s health and wellness routine. Warming your body from the inside out may help you to relax and unwind after a long day, but the benefits of using a sauna go far beyond that. From improved cardiovascular health to reduced stress and improved skin tone, saunas can be incredibly effective in promoting overall wellbeing.
Whether you prefer to relax and unwind in a sauna or steam room, you can enjoy a host of health benefits. Not only are saunas and steam rooms a calming experience, but research has also shown that they may be beneficial for managing a variety of conditions, including rheumatologic and skin diseases such as psoriasis. While more studies are needed to confirm the therapeutic effects of saunas and steam rooms, the evidence is promising.
Recent research has shown that high temperatures can provide numerous health benefits, such as increasing circulation, alleviating chronic pain, reducing joint stiffness, and even boosting the immune system. Different types of saunas can help you achieve these same advantages, so regardless of the type you choose you can expect to see positive results.
Are you interested in learning about the various types of saunas and how to choose the one that’s best for you? Do you want to know the benefits you could gain by heating up your body? Experts break down all the different types of saunas, how to choose the right one for you, and the best way to maximize the potential benefits you may experience. So, get ready to dive into the world of saunas and learn how you can use them to your advantage!
What is a Sauna?
Saunas are a unique way to enjoy a relaxing, therapeutic experience. Using dry heat that is typically heated between 180°F and 195°F with minimal humidity, it’s like sitting in an oven, but with the added benefit of being able to pour water over heated rocks in the sauna room for a bit of added humidity. This helps to improve the sauna experience, allowing for a deeply relaxing and therapeutic session.
What are the Different Types of a Sauna?
1. Traditional Sauna
There are many different types of saunas available, but the most traditional is the wood-burning variety. These saunas generate heat by burning wood, stoves, or hot rocks to generate dry heat.
2. Electric Sauna
For a more convenient option, electric saunas are an increasingly popular choice. These saunas use electricity to generate heat, making them ideal for installing in the home. No matter which type of sauna you choose, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.
3. Infrared Sauna
Infrared saunas use infrared light waves to heat your body directly, without raising the temperature of the air around you. Unlike traditional saunas, infrared saunas allow you to experience the same benefits at a much lower temperature, making them easier to tolerate. Enjoy all the benefits of a traditional sauna without the intense heat associated with it – with an infrared sauna.
4. Steam rooms
Steam rooms are a great way to relax and unwind with the soothing benefits of moist heat. Unlike saunas, the temperature inside a steam room is generally between 100 and 120°F and humidity can reach near 100%. Although steam rooms aren’t as hot as saunas, you will likely feel the heat more intensely due to the extra moisture in the air. So grab a towel and get ready to enjoy a wonderful, steamy experience!
If you suffer from respiratory issues, steam rooms are the best option for keeping your respiratory tract hydrated. Saunas can dry it out even more, so it’s best to avoid them. However, if you don’t have any respiratory issues, then it’s really up to you and your personal preference as both steam rooms and saunas offer similar health benefits.
Can Sauna Help You Burn Fat?
The sauna is thought to be a great way to mimic the effects of a moderate- to high-intensity workout, such as walking, and to boost your metabolism. However, further research is needed to confirm this, as the data on the topic is not consistent. It is important to note that any weight lost in a sauna or steam room is due to water loss and not fat loss.
Saunas are a great way to increase your body temperature and promote sweating. Your body will redistribute your blood to your skin to help cool you down and regulate your temperature. However, this does not mean that sweating will help you lose weight. To reduce excess fat and maintain a healthy weight, you should stick to a balanced diet and exercise. Additionally, you cannot “detox” from a night of drinking by using a steam room. Although you can sweat off products on your skin, like sunscreen, that won’t help your body process alcohol or food you’ve ingested.
Risks to Using a Sauna?
As far as risks go, you’re mainly looking at dehydration and dizziness from the heat. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re well-hydrated before and after your sauna or steam room session. It’s also important to be aware that if you’ve recently had a heart attack or any other cardiovascular issues, like high blood pressure, you should avoid the sauna.
Pregnant women and anyone with autonomic dysfunction, chronic respiratory disease, heart disease, or who is generally frail should consult their doctor before using a sauna or steam room. Remember that everyone handles heat and humidity differently – so if you have any concerns, it’s always a good idea to consult your healthcare provider.
Health Benefits of Sitting in a Sauna?
The effects of heat are the same whether it’s dry or moist, so you’ll get the same benefits with either a sauna or steam room. But steam can offer an extra advantage if you have respiratory issues like asthma or allergies. Medications to treat those conditions can dry out your airways, making it harder to breathe. Steam can help hydrate and open the lungs, and act as a humidifier to clear your nasal passages to make breathing easier.
Additionally, research has proven that dry saunas can bring plenty of health benefits. Whether you choose dry or moist heat, you can experience the health advantages of both.
1. Improved Circulation
Sitting in a sauna isn’t just a relaxing experience. While the heat may make you feel warm and cozy, it’s also a great way to get some light cardio benefits. Raising your body temperature will naturally increase your heart rate and circulation, which is similar to walking at a moderate pace on a treadmill. However, it’s important to remember that saunas are no substitute for regular exercise, which has a plethora of other health benefits.
2. Stronger Immune System
Using a sauna can be beneficial for your immune system in several ways, even though it is not directly linked to improved immunity. Sauna bathing can induce relaxation, reducing stress levels and dampening the immune system. Studies have also found that sauna usage can reduce circulating levels of inflammatory markers, which can interfere with the immune system’s response. In other words, saunas are an effective way to help boost your body’s natural defenses.
3. Stress Relief
Saunas have been an integral part of Scandinavian culture for centuries and are seen as an effective way to reduce stress and relax. According to a 2018 study published in the journal Medical Principles and Practice, sauna bathing can reduce the stress hormone cortisol by as much as 10 to 40 percent.
Making sauna bathing a part of your regular routine can have a huge impact on your stress levels. If you can find a way to fit in short sauna sessions on your way home from work or even socialize while doing it, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of a calmer and healthier lifestyle.
4. Reduced Joint Stiffness And Muscle Soreness
Saunas can be an effective tool for workout recovery. Not only can the heat make your muscles more flexible and elastic, but it can also help reduce muscle soreness. People with stiff joints and body aches often swear by saunas for easing pain. Additionally, saunas are known to help with tension-type headaches, likely because it helps reduce the muscle soreness that contributes to them. So, why not make saunas part of your post-workout routine?
5. Better Mood
Sauna sessions not only lift your mood, but also have been linked to numerous mental health benefits. A study in Finland found that men who used a sauna regularly had a decreased risk of developing psychosis. Other studies have also shown that sauna use can reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s still unclear if these benefits are directly related to sauna use or if they are simply due to a healthier lifestyle that includes socialization and relaxation. Regardless, sauna sessions appear to offer positive effects for both the brain and mental health.
6. Healthy and Glowing Skin
Using a sauna can do wonders for your skin health! Not only does it bring blood flow to the surface of your skin, getting you ready to sweat, but regular sauna use can also make your skin more robust and elastic. This means not only will your skin look better, it will act as a better barrier against general health threats. So make sure you take advantage of the amazing benefits of sauna use today!
7. Lowered Blood Pressure
Spending time in a sauna can have a positive effect on your blood pressure, as long as you practice it regularly. Research shows that people who use a sauna four times a week for 20 minutes have a significantly lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and dementia. However, it is important to remember that if you have uncontrolled blood pressure, you should not use a sauna. The initial increase in blood pressure may lead to further complications.
By using a sauna regularly, you can help improve your cardiovascular health and lower your blood pressure in the long run. So, make sure to talk to your doctor before you start a sauna routine and follow their advice to ensure your safety.
How long can you sit in a sauna?
Most people’s sessions in saunas and steam rooms typically last five to 30 minutes, but it’s important to ensure you have the correct acclimation and hydration to ensure your safety. If you’re feeling lightheaded or dehydrated, it’s best to avoid the sauna or steam room. On the other hand, if you’re well hydrated and feeling fine, you can stay a bit longer. It’s also important to take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water.
If you’re new to saunas and steam rooms, it’s best to start low and slow. Sit closer to the floor to experience less intense heat, and consider limiting your first few sessions to five or 10 minutes. With regular use (several times a week, if possible), you can gradually increase your time in the sauna or steam room.
Can you use a sauna every day?
Using a sauna on a regular basis can offer a number of benefits. While it is generally considered safe to use it every day, it is not necessarily imperative to keep up with a daily practice to reap all the benefits. Depending on your goals, someone using sauna for relaxation may go less frequently than someone using sauna for therapeutic purposes.
It is important to consult with your doctor to determine the most appropriate frequency and duration for you, especially if you have a chronic condition or take medication. If you ever feel really tired, dehydrated, or generally unwell, consider reducing how often and how long you use a sauna each time.
Saunas offer many health benefits, but they also come with certain risks. When deciding which type of sauna is right for you, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons and find the one that best suits your personal preferences. By taking the time to research and understand the different types of saunas available, you can make an informed decision that will bring you the most health benefits with the least amount of risks.