Never had I seen such a split opinion then that of the sauna topic. Some love it and some loathe it. Opinion on the sauna isn’t usually formed on the basis of sauna facts and the benefits of enduring the heat, but instead your preference to being exposed to the heat and sweating in a wooden box! If more people were aware of the benefits of jumping into the sauna, then I’m sure the ‘sauna-opposers’ would soon become advocates. I myself used to swerve the sauna, but now I’m fully on board.
Sauna Fact 1 – Flushes Toxins
Sauna’s are a great way to flush out toxins that can build up in the body. Toxins develop as a consequence of eating habits, drug use and other health and environment factors. If toxin build up escalates too much, it can lead to an exhausted immune system and illness. Sweating is an effective method of flushing toxins from the body and the high-temperature in the sauna is a really effective way of inducing a sweat response, which does not involve exercising.
Sauna Fact 2 – Increased Metabolism
A study conducted back in the 80s found that sauna exposure led to a 25%-33% increase in metabolism (1). It’s believed that being exposed to the heat in a sauna can cause slight oxygen deprivation, as such requiring the heart to work slightly harder to meet the oxygen demands that the body has. Therefore, short-term weight loss from sauna exposure is a result of losing water weight, however the sauna can also influence long-term weight loss by boosting metabolism.
Sauna Fact 3 – Boosted Immune System
Pilch et al. conducted a study in 2013 to examine the influence of sauna use on the immune system (2). The study concluded that sauna use increases the number of white blood cells, neutrophil and basophil and lymphocyte, all of which are signals of an immune response. Enhancing the immune system is an effective way to prevent illness and speed up recovery.
Sauna Fact 4– Stay Looking Youthful
When your skin is exposed to the heat in a sauna it aids the removal of dead skin cells and speeds up the rejuvenation of skin. This is not only a beneficial impact on keeping the skin looking youthful, but it’s also a real positive for reducing and preventing acne.
Sauna Fact 5 – Improved Sleep
Having a 15-30 minute sauna, followed by a cold shower to regulate body temperature has a positive impact on getting some deep sleep. The sauna elevates endorphins, which leads to a calming effect, followed by the cold shower which boosts melatonin: ‘the sleep hormone’. Synergistically I’ve found this routine to be very effective!
1. Leppäluoto J et al. Some cardiovascular and metabolic effects of repeated sauna bathing. Acta Physiol Scand. 1986 Sep;128(1):77-81.
2. Pilch et al. Effect of a Single Finnish Sauna Session on White Blood Cell Profile and Cortisol Levels in Athletes and Non-Athletes. J Hum Kinet. 2013 Dec 18; 39: 127–135