You’re hitting the gym, stocking up on all the healthy eats, building in meditation and yoga — what else are you missing when it comes to your wellness routine? Perhaps, basking in the heat of a sauna.
If you haven’t heard, relaxing in an indoor sauna can pack some serious health benefits for both mind and body (assuming you can endure a little — okay, a lot! — of sweat). So, if you’re ready to hear what these are, and see if they are a fit for your lifestyle, scroll on!
Note: Please consult your licensed healthcare professional before starting any new regimen or routine, such as this one.
Sauna Benefits, According To Studies**
Saunas come in all forms, from wet ones to dry ones to wood-burning and infrared. They differ in heat sources, humidity levels and how long you should stay in them. That said, all of them increase your core temperature, which is where the benefits come in.
According to several studies, these cover the following:
- Exercise Alternative: According to a study in Complementary Therapies in Medicine, saunas may mirror the effects of moderate to vigorous-intensity exercise (as measured through your heart rate and blood pressure). When quantified in this research, it suggested that heart rate and blood pressure drop back down to pre-sauna levels after the sauna session.
- Inflammation Effects: It’s well known that decreasing the amount of inflammation in your body is an important part of maintaining your health. And according to the European Journal of Epidemiology, it stated that saunas may play into this by reducing blood levels of C-reactive protein (which are part of the inflammatory response).
- Mental Impact: Saunas can also potentially impact on your mental state. In the International Journal of Hyperthermia, research suggests that saunas can prime the brain for better memory, learning and cognitive function due to heat leading to new neuron formation and plasticity increase.
- Toxin Elimination: When you’re dripping with sweat, you’re actually eliminating toxins from your body. In fact, this article from The Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology claims that heavy metals are excreted through sweating, in addition to other toxins like bisphenol A, polychlorinated biphenyls and phthalate compounds.
Sauna Safety: What To Know Before Using
Of course, as with any new trend or practice, it's important to exercise precaution. In this case, pregnant women, children and individuals who are sick (especially with a fever!) should avoid sauna use. Additionally, those on medication should consult with their doctors before incorporating sauna use into their routines. (But again, please speak with your licensed healthcare professional before starting a new regimen.)