HEALTH BENEFITS OF A SAUNA
Regardless of how a sauna is heated, or the humidity level, the effects on the body are similar. When a person sits in a sauna, their heart rate increases and blood vessels widen. This increases circulation, in a similar way to low to moderate exercise depending on the duration of sauna use. Heart rate may increase to 100-150 beats a minute while using a sauna. This may bring some health benefits.
Increased circulation may help reduce muscle soreness, improve joint movement, and ease arthritis pain.
REDUCING STRESS LEVELS
As the heat in a sauna improves circulation, it may also promote relaxation. This can improve feelings of well-being.
IMPROVING CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
The reduction in stress levels when using a sauna may be linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular events. One study, conducted in Finland, followed 2,315 men ages 42 to 60 over the course of 20 years. Findings suggested that people who use a sauna may have a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Of the participants in the study, a total of 878 died from cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease or sudden cardiac death. Participants were categorized by how often they used a sauna, including once a week, two to three times a week, and four to seven times a week. After adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors, increased sauna use was linked with a reduced risk of fatal cardiovascular-related diseases. Participants who used the sauna two to three times a week were 22 percent less likely to experience sudden cardiac death than those who only used it once a week. Those who used a sauna four to seven times a week were 63 percent less likely to experience sudden cardiac death and 50 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those who only used a sauna once a week. Sauna use may also be associated with lower blood pressure and enhanced heart function.
A dry sauna dries the skin during use. Some people with psoriasis may find that their symptoms reduce while using a sauna, but those with atopic dermatitis may find that it worsens.
People with asthma may find relief from some symptoms as a result of using a sauna. A sauna may help open airways, loosen phlegm, and reduce stress.
LOWER RISK OF ALZHEIMER’S
In 2016, researchers from Finland published findings of a 20-year study that linked sauna use with a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease. The study involved 2,315 healthy men aged from 42 to 60 years.
Those who used a sauna 2 to 3 times per week were 22 percent less likely to get dementia and 20 percent less likely to get Alzheimer’s than than those who did not use a sauna. Those who used a sauna four to seven times a week were 66 percent less likely to get dementia and 65 percent less likely to get Alzheimer’s than those who used a sauna once a week.