Better blood circulation, immune system booster, muscle toning or relief from sleep disorders… the health benefits of the sauna are in the handful! Far beyond leisure and beauty, we review its impact on your physical and mental well-being.
The sauna is the popular steam or sweating bath carried out in an enclosure at very high temperature, which according to the relative humidity within the enclosure is classified into wet -also called Turkish bath- or dry, the most common and imported from Finland, with sacred origin and linked not only to the release of toxins from the body through sweating, but also to the purification of the spirit. In the wet sauna, the temperature does not exceed 70 ° C and the relative humidity is very high, sometimes 100%. Meanwhile, the dry season has temperatures between 80º and 90 ° C and a minimum humidity, never higher than 20%.
The sauna has extremely healthy and therapeutic effects on the body. For these to be effective, there must be temperature contrasts, be fully hydrated with mineral water to compensate for the loss during the session and seek advice from a medical professional, since saunas are not recommended for pregnant women, people with heart problems or other conditions.
Harvard Medical School recommends avoiding alcohol consumption before or during the sauna, or talking or doing physical efforts inside it. On the other hand, depending on your metabolism, you can use it daily if it is slow or once or twice a week if it is fast. We review below all the benefits of this pleasant experience.
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8 key benefits of saunas for your health
- Toned muscles: Sauna sessions help reduce the presence of fat, reduce cellulite and relieve joint pain and fatigue. Spending time on it also helps you lose weight by increasing the intensity and frequency of your metabolic rates.
- Improved blood circulation: Hot saunas make blood vessels more flexible, increasing blood circulation and promoting complete detoxification and oxygenation of body tissues. In this way, they also favor the optimal distribution of nutrients, with beneficial effects on the hair, skin or nails. It is also a proven cure for various respiratory ailments, including chest congestion and bronchitis, as it helps in natural sinus drainage.
- Optimal health for your heart: During a sauna session, most people’s heartbeats increase by more than 50-75%, similar to a physical workout. In a report published by the American College of Cardiology, researchers revealed that saunas also help in the treatment of coronary heart disease.
- Purification through sweating: Sweating is the body’s natural cleansing mechanism, and saunas help to remove waste products through it. It should be remembered that more than 30% of total body waste is expelled through sweat, which is why profuse sweating in the sauna contributes to the detoxification of the body. In addition, the heat expands the vessels and increases blood flow.
- Strengthening the immune system: The temperature of the skin rises to more than 40 degrees, while the internal temperature of the body reaches 38. These triggers “a false state of fever”, which stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies and white blood cells that fight diseases, making you more resistant to them.
- Improved quality of sleep: They are highly recommended for people who suffer from insomnia. In fact, it is estimated that a 15-minute session is equivalent to improving sleep hygiene to an hour of walking or vigorous training.
- Avoid infections: The high temperatures experienced during a sauna session produce an increase in the production of internal cellular energy, which in turn guarantees efficient healing. Many disease-causing pathogens, such as viruses and tumors, are destroyed by this heat, preventing recurrent infections.
- Good for mental health: They are great for reducing your daily stress and experiencing greater levels of relaxation. They are recommended for people suffering from anxiety or depression.
Sauna, watch out for blood pressure
We have all heard of the myriad benefits of the sauna. Some of these benefits are true and some are really exaggerated. There are also contraindications and prohibitions, especially for people who suffer from problems of blood pressure or varicose veins in the acute phase.
The sauna is also an activity for which a protocol must be followed if we want to increase its benefits and ward off possible risks.
Does the sauna eliminate pathogens, protect against colds, help you lose weight, increase longevity, reduce stress, help you gain muscle, is it suitable for everyone…?
Does the sauna eliminate pathogens?
When it comes to the sauna eliminating pathogens “you have to specify”.
For example, it is true that there are studies that demonstrate its effectiveness for the treatment and recovery of processes at the respiratory level, which can be caused by bacteria, but it cannot be generalised.
And it cannot be generalized because there are many bacteria and there are some that are heat resistant, so the sauna would have no effect. Yes, you could say that it helps in the recovery process.
Does it protect against colds?
The issue of protection from colds, we would have to see the cause, because the cold is not a clinical entity as such but you can have a respiratory infection or only an inflammation of the respiratory tract.
The sauna can help, because if pathogens are eliminated from the skin, the person will be less exposed for example to a respiratory infection, it could serve as a preventive disinfectant agent, it could, but not for the condition as such.
Also, if there is a non-viral respiratory process, using it could come in handy to help deflate the airways and can reduce coughing attacks and mucus proliferation.
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