Saunas have been used for thousands of years and are still popular today. Here is everything you need to know about Sauna in 2021. A sauna can help people to unwind and relax, and it may have other health benefits.
Sweating has long been used as a therapy. The Mayans used sweat houses 3,000 years ago, according to Harvard Health Publications. In Finland, saunas have been used for thousands of years, and 1 in 3 Finns still use them. In the United States (U.S.), there are thought to be over a million saunas.
The main benefits proposed for saunas are relaxation and cardiovascular health. However, a sauna may not be suitable for everyone.
Fast facts on saunas:
Here are some key points about saunas.
A sauna is a room in which people aim to relax in dry heat.
It may provide benefits for cardiovascular health that resemble those derived from exercise.
Drinking alcohol before or during a sauna can be dangerous.
Anyone who has a cardiovascular problem or who is pregnant should seek medical advice before
using a sauna.
What is a sauna?
A sauna is typically a room heated to between 70° to 100° Celsius or 158° to 212° Fahrenheit.
Traditional Finnish saunas usually use dry heat, with a relative humidity that is often between 10 and 20 percent. In other sauna types, the moisture is higher. Turkish-style saunas, for example, involve a greater level of humidity.
Sauna use can raise the skin temperature to roughly 40° Celsius or 104° Fahrenheit.
As the skin temperature rises, heavy sweating also occurs. The heart rate rises as the body attempt to keep cool. It is not uncommon to lose about a pint of sweat while spending a short time in a sauna.
Possible health benefits
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
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. 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.
Health risks and precautions
The moderate use of a sauna appears to be safe for most people. However, a person with cardiovascular disease should speak to a doctor first.
Blood pressure risks
Switching between the heat of a sauna and cold water in a swimming pool is not advisable, as it can raise blood pressure. Sauna use may also cause blood pressure to fall, so people with low blood pressure should talk to their doctor to make sure sauna use is safe.
People who have recently had a heart attack should also talk to their doctor first.
Dehydration can result from fluid loss while sweating. People with certain conditions, such as kidney disease may be at a higher risk of dehydration.
The increased temperatures can also lead to dizziness and nausea in some people.
To avoid any negative health effects, the following precautions are also advised:
Avoid alcohol: Alcohol increases the risk of dehydration, hypotension, arrhythmia, and sudden death.
Limit time spent in a sauna: Do not spend more than 20 minutes at a time in a sauna. First-time users should spend a maximum of 5 to 10 minutes. As they get used to the heat, they can slowly increase the time to about 20 minutes.
Drink plenty of water: Whatever type of sauna a person uses, it is important to replace the fluids lost from sweating. People should drink about two to four glasses of water after using a sauna.
Avoid sauna use if ill: People who are ill should also wait until they recover before using a sauna. Women who are pregnant or those with certain medical conditions, such as low blood pressure should ask their doctor before sauna use.
Supervise children: Children aged 6 and above are safe to use a sauna, but should be supervised when doing so. They should spend no longer than 15 minutes in there at one time.