A home sauna is not only a great way to relax at the end of the day, it also has a variety of health benefits.
I love saunas as a way to sweat out colds, relax, and enjoy some warmth in the colder months. Find out more about the different kinds of saunas and their benefits in this helpful article.
What is a Sauna?
A sauna is a small room or free-standing, hut-like structure heated to temperatures ranging from 100 to 140 degrees F. T
he purpose of a sauna is to generate sweat through a combination of steam and heat. In the case of “wet” steam saunas, that means moist, heated air.
There are three kinds of personal saunas that fall under one of two categories, dry saunas and wet saunas.
A wet sauna consists of a room with a tiled floor with a water boiler that emits hot, moist steam.
While many sauna devotees prefer this experience, steam saunas are more challenging for home installation, in part because of the set up and space required for the boiler system.
A dry sauna can be built in two ways; a traditional dry sauna or an infrared dry sauna. These are the kinds of saunas most commonly installed and used within the home.
Traditionally, a dry sauna consists of a wood-paneled room that contains a stove filled with stones. Users pour water over the stones to add moisture to the extremely dry air with the amount of water poured controlling the amount of steam released.
The other kind of dry sauna is an infrared sauna. These also use dry heat but without a stove or stones, making them very well-suited to home installation.
In an infrared sauna, heat is emitted from infrared lamps that warm the user’s body and induce perspiration without heating up the air in the sauna chamber itself.
Benefits of Home Saunas
Having access to a personal sauna in your home can provide a wide array of health benefits with regular use, such as:
Heart Health and Longevity
JAMA Internal Medicine shows that regularly spending time in a sauna may help keep the heart healthy. Researchers from Finland tracked 2,300 men for an average of 20 years.
They found that the more sessions per week men spent in the sauna, the lower their risk of sudden cardiac death and fatal coronary heart disease.
Detoxification of Chemicals and Heavy Metals
The skin is a major detox organ, and sweating through skin is a critical human detox function, yet most people don’t sweat enough. Because of this, we miss out on a major source of toxin elimination: the skin.
To combat these effects, saunas help purify the body from the inside out, eliminating compounds such as PCBs, metals and toxins that are stored in fat cells, which can undergo lipolysis and release toxins upon exposure to heat.
Growth hormones are crucial for the repair and recovery of muscles. Research has shown that two 20-minute sauna sessions elevated growth hormone levels two-fold over baseline.
Additionally, saunas also increase blood flow to the skeletal muscles, which helps to keep them fueled with glucose, amino acids, fatty acids, and oxygen, while removing by-products of the metabolic processes such as lactic acid.
Arthritic and Muscular Pain Relief
The heat and steam from saunas can also be beneficial for pain relief. More than 50% of participants in some surveys reported substantial pain relief and increased mobility.
Muscle Gain and Fat Loss
Saunas can promote muscle growth and fat loss. It has also been shown that a 30-minute intermittent sauna treatment can cause a significant expression of something called ‘heat shock proteins’ in muscle, which is correlated with 30% more muscle regrowth after a week of immobilization.
In other words, if you don’t exercise but you sauna instead, you can still maintain muscle!
Immune System Boost
Research on the effect of sauna on the immune system, specifically white blood cell profile, cortisol levels and selected physiological indices in athletes and non-athletes showed an increased number of white blood cells, lymphocyte, neutrophil and basophil counts in the white blood cell profile, showing that sauna use stimulates the immune system.
When your body produces sweat in a sauna, the rate at which dead skin cells are replaced can be increased. At the same time, heavy sweating helps remove bacteria from the epidermal layer of the skin and sweat ducts. This also causes increased capillary circulation, which can give the skin a softer-looking, younger appearance by increasing firmness and reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
Relaxation and Better Sleep
Researchers have found that a sauna can help provide a deeper, more relaxed sleep, relief of chronic tension, and relief of chronic fatigue issues, most likely due to a release of endorphins from the sauna.
As endorphins are released into your body, they create a soothing, tranquilizing effect that not only helps to minimize chronic arthritic pain and other muscle soreness, but can also help with relaxation and sleep.
Increased Cardiovascular Performance
Research has shown 30 minutes of sauna treatment after exercise can cause an increase in oxygen consumption and red blood cell production.
In a sauna, your skin heats up and your core body temperature rises. Then, in response to these increased heat levels, the blood vessels near your skin dilate and cause an increase in cardiac output. So with regular sauna use, you are training your heart muscles and improving your cardiac output.
Increased Stress Resilience
Multiple research studies have shown that the use of a sauna can prevent protein degradation and muscle loss by triggering the production of heat shock proteins.
Heat shock proteins are then used by your cells to counteract potentially harmful stimuli, including environmental stress from pollutants, toxins, exercise stress and much more.
Maybe now you can see why I love saunas? Try out a personal sauna of your own at home!