Sweat It Out for Better Health

3 mins read

Saunas have long been a cornerstone of wellness cultures around the world, offering a tranquil escape for both the mind and body. Often associated with Finnish culture, the practice of sauna bathing has spread globally, evolving as new traditions and technologies emerge. Today we plan to demystify the sauna experience, exploring different types of saunas, their health benefits, potential risks, and best practices for incorporating sauna sessions into your routine.

Different Options

There are three main types of sauna or heat therapies – dry sauna, infrared sauna, and steam rooms – each offering a unique experience.

  • Traditional dry saunas use heated rocks to warm the room, creating a dry heat that typically ranges between 150°F and 195°F.
  • Infrared saunas, on the other hand, use infrared heaters to emit radiant heat, directly warming the body at lower ambient temperatures. This makes them more tolerable for those who find traditional saunas too intense.
  • Steam rooms use a generator to release steam, creating a high-humidity environment at lower temperatures. The choice between these depends on personal preference and tolerance to heat and humidity.

If you’re thinking about using a sauna regularly for health reasons, it’s important to be aware that most research on sauna health benefits has focused on dry saunas.

Health Benefits

Regular sauna use has been linked to a number health benefits, supported by a variety of scientific studies. First and foremost, saunas are known for their ability to promote relaxation and reduce stress, thanks to the heat helping to release endorphins. Research also suggests cardiovascular improvements, with sauna use being associated with lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart diseases. It’s beneficial for muscle recovery too, aiding in soothing muscle soreness and improving joint mobility. Additionally, saunas may enhance lung function, supporting better breathing in individuals with respiratory conditions. The heat can also aid in detoxification, flushing out toxins through increased sweating. Moreover, there’s evidence pointing towards improved skin health, as the heat opens up pores and cleanses the skin. However, it’s important to approach sauna use with caution, staying hydrated and avoiding overexposure, especially for those with certain medical conditions or who are pregnant.

Potential Risks

While saunas are generally safe, there are potential risks involved. Overheating, dehydration, and heat exhaustion are common concerns, especially for beginners or those with preexisting health conditions. It’s important to stay hydrated prior to and immediately after sauna use.

A good rule of thumb is to start small, limit the duration of your first few sauna sessions to five minutes. As you become more attuned to your body and how it responds to the heat, start increasing the duration of sessions.

When to Avoid

Certain individuals should avoid saunas or seek medical advice before use. Pregnant women, young children, and those with conditions such as high or low blood pressure, epilepsy, or cardiovascular diseases should exercise caution. Additionally, it’s advised to avoid sauna use immediately after intense exercise or while under the influence of alcohol, as both scenarios increase the risk of dehydration and heat-related complications.

Personal Experience

It’s been nearly three years since I’ve incorporated regular sauna sessions into my fitness routine, usually following a workout at my local gym. I will normally use the sauna twice per week and it’s become a ritual I genuinely look forward to. I don’t particularly enjoy the experience when I’m in the sauna but the after-effects are delightful; I leave feeling relaxed, cleansed, and in a noticeably better mood.

I always make sure to have a bottle of water with me to rehydrate after the session. More importantly, on days when my workout is particularly intense and I’ve already sweat a lot, I will opt to skip the sauna. You only have so much water in your body and to cause yourself to sweat past a certain point can be dangerous. It certainly took some time but I’ve learned to listen to my body’s needs.

Saunas offer relaxation, health benefits, and immersion in a unique cultural tradition. Whether you prefer the dry heat of a traditional sauna, the gentle warmth of an infrared sauna, or the humid embrace of a steam room, these spaces provide a sanctuary for physical and mental rejuvenation. By understanding the types, benefits, and guidelines for safe use, you can confidently incorporate saunas into your wellness journey, embracing their warmth as a path to better health and relaxation.


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  3. Huhtaniemi IT, Laukkanen JA. Endocrine effects of sauna bath. Curr Opin Endocr Metab Res. 2020;11:15-20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.coemr.2019.12.004
  4. Hussain J, Cohen M. Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018:1857413. Published 2018 Apr 24. doi:10.1155/2018/1857413
  5. Mahlouji M, Alizadeh Vaghasloo M, Dadmehr M, Rezaeizadeh H, Nazem E, Tajadini H. Sweating as a Preventive Care and Treatment Strategy in Traditional Persian Medicine. Galen Med J. 2020;9:e2003. Published 2020 Dec 25. doi:10.31661/gmj.v9i0.2003

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