Saunas. Small, dry, super-heated rooms, that have been in existence for as long as humans have gathered communally. The leisurely benefits of them are obvious and understandable; Native Americans have been using sweat lodges and forms of this practice for generations. But are there really any particular health benefits to sweating it out?
The dry heat of a sauna, which can reach up to 185 degrees F, has several notable effects on the human body. None of the resulting symptoms are particularly helpful nor hurtful, but can be separated into generally beneficial or not. They are as follows.
- Warmth dilates the blood vessels, increasing circulation throughout the body.
- Dry heat typically produces a calming environment, allowing for stress relief and anxiety reduction.
- Heat causes the muscle fibers to expand slightly, producing soothing effects on pained joints and muscles.
- Increased sweating causes an increased flushing of toxins from the body.
- Dry heat stimulates the sebaceous glands in our hair follicles, which produces oils to keep hair healthy.
- Skin temperature rises to almost 104 degrees F within a few minutes, which can be dangerous to some.
- On average, an adult will release about a pint of sweat during a normal amount of time in a sauna.
- Pulse rate jumps by about 30%, leading to unpredictable rises in blood pressure.
- Increased blood flow redirects blood from internal organs to the skin.
Many studies have shown that sauna’s have neither profound health benefits or consequences, so essentially, they’re best used for the leisure aspect. However, it’s important to take into account warnings and pre-existing conditions prior.
Below, you’ll find a list of things to consider before using a sauna, as provided by the Harvard Health Publications:
“1. Avoid alcohol and medications that may impair sweating and produce overheating before and after your sauna.
2. Stay in no more than 15–20 minutes.
2. Cool down gradually afterward.
3. Drink two to four glasses of cool water after each sauna.
4. Don’t take a sauna when you are ill, and if you feel unwell during your sauna, head for the door.”