We’re collecting comments from health professionals on the benefits of saunas, and have listed all credible submissions we’ve received so far (if you are qualified to comment on how saunas can be beneficial, please make a submission and we’ll add it to this article). I strongly recommend having a read through these! Already we’ve received some great comments, including from numerous health professionals (see here, here and here), as well as detailed explanations of the benefits that both dry and infrared can bring (see the featured submission by Katie Miils directly below).
On a base level, the health benefits of saunas (and this is true for traditional saunas or Infrared) revolve around the heat inside.
The primary benefits is this hit kicks of a chain reaction of processes in the body. The body believes this heat is its own natural reaction to an infection I.E a fever. The body immediately gets to work on producing white blood cells and antibodies and goes into combat mode increasing blood flow and blood flow capacity to get the blood and 'good cells' to all areas of the body. This has an extremely noticeable effect on easing pain in muscles and joints and is why sauna use is very popular for conditions such as arthritis.
A secondary benefits is that steam cleanses the body. While delivering the good stuff through the blood, sweat takes the bad stuff out. Sweat is a form of excretion and is made up from waste matter the body doesn't want and is happy to expel. The reason sweat smells? Because for the most part, its got all the same elements as urine...... a lovely thought I know :). This sweat also has amazing benefits for the complexion. Cleaning the skins pores from the inside out, there is literally nothing more beneficial for the skin then this all natural deep cleanse
The benefits of using a sauna are time tested - In fact, there are 2 million saunas in Finland to server a population of 5.5 million (source)
Further, a traditional sauna, which is high heat and low humidity, can also get right into the tiny crevices in the lungs and carry away any pollutants which have been pulled in by the respiratory system. This could mean anything from pollen to cigarette smoke
There are also many different types of sauna
If you still don’t fancy the steam, there are infrared saunas which give you the benefits of the heat by penetrating deep into the body via infrared rays. These types of saunas are not a hot or such a 'testing' environment as the traditional saunas as you don't have the room filled fill gulfs of steam. These saunas are know to be more beneficial to health as they have this deeper penetration. However, purest still ensure there is a market for the traditional saunas
Because saunas use high temperatures, you might want to check with a doctor before you use one, especially if you have a history of heart problems, although they are perfectly safe for most healthy adults. If possible make absolutely sure you are using a good-quality sauna, especially in the case you in an infrared sauna, it's important not just for your results but for your safety.
Now for the boring disclaimer. Yes, sports therapists recommend saunas for muscle recovery, its helpful for weight-loss AND great for detoxing, though, it should only be used as part of a complete program of exercise and diet.
Even as a sauna manufacturer I'll be the first to state that, as a tool and weapon in your arsenal, a sauna is a great way to get you the results you desire, you can even add some aromatherapy oils to sooth and relax, get the benefits from a much improved night sleep, but in regards to the weight loss aspect, a sauna is not a magic room you can enter and come out looking 10 years younger dropping 10 lbs in a single visit. Depending on your goals, if you're looking to a sauna as a 'quick fix' to being overweight, it may very well disappoint
However, with a complete fitness program in place and a reasonable diet, a sauna is a great place to recover after the gym or swim and to relax and unwind after a heavy gym session or as an addition to an already healthy lifestyle
--Katie Miils, Poshh
• Saunas flush toxins via sweating
Many of us do not sweat properly, and our body falls for several health issues. Deep sweating, however, is beneficial for our health in proven ways. Saunas help in deep sweating and raise the temperature of the whole body. The blood flow increases with the increase in temperature and signals the sweat glands to produce sweat in excess. Sweating then cools down the body temperature. Along with excess water, toxic chemicals like zinc, copper, nickel, mercury come out of the body and keep the body safe from various health issues. Doctors suggest practicing saunas as one of the best ways to detoxify bodies.
• Saunas deep clean the skin
People suffering from skin problems can look into practicing saunas for bright and fresh skin. Those who have acne problems can get significant benefits out of saunas. Through sweating, many toxic chemicals come out of the body, and along with that, it also replaces dead skin cells. The bacterias that cause acne comes out of the epidermal layer and sweat ducts. The procedure cleans the pores and improves the blood circulation, which gives the skin a softer look.
• Saunas reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
People who take saunas baths once a week are less likely to fall for cardiovascular diseases, coronary artery disease, or sudden cardiac death. Hence proved that saunas have a similar effect as that of moderate exercises that keeps the man healthy and safe from health issues.
• Saunas reduce fats
Spending 20 minutes at least in saunas helps reduce fats that eventually reduce the weight by losing 500 calories per session. Saunas help speed up the body metabolisms that burn the fats and take them out of the body in sweat.
Saunas appear safe for various patients and also for healthy people. At some, taking a sauna is a national pastime. It is safe in all cases. However, people need to be careful as they should not take alcohol before and after saunas. They should not take it more than 15-20 minutes and should drink 4-5 glasses of water after the sauna session.
--Noah James, Native Compass
There are many types of saunas, but the principle is the same. A small room is heated, and as bathers go in, they start to sweat thanks to the warmth. Finnish researchers have extensively studied the subject, and saunas appear to be very beneficial. Among people who regularly went to saunas, there were fewer cardiovascular deaths and deaths overall than in the general population. That said, you shouldn’t go to a sauna if you already have a condition that makes you feel ill during warm weather (bad cardiac insufficiency, for example). Saunas can also inhibit wound healing, so it’s best to avoid the sauna if you’ve just had stitches.
We have a Finnish sauna at home, so it’s my favorite type. But for connoisseurs, I recommend a smoke sauna. There’s really nothing like sweating in a dark 100-year-old room. You’ll end up smelling like a smoked ham for two days 🙂
--Gert Mikkal, DadProgress
Saunas are very beneficial for health. Research shows that they lower risk of heart disease, especially when used at least 3-4 times a week. They improve circulation, help the body cleanse from toxins by increase sweat production, help with calorie-burning, and even help with symptoms of pain.
If you have orthostatic hypotension, use caution with saunas. Otherwise, enjoy your sauna and make sure to hydrate well before and after. Saunas work best if you aren't hungry, but not overly full.
--Heidi Moretti, MS, RD, The Healthy RD
There are several different types of saunas. One that is very popular in the health industry is the infrared sauna. The infrared sauna uses infrared rays to provide the warm soothing effect. Infrared saunas are theorized to increase the blood flow to the skin. This can help to alleviate pain. Furthermore infrared heating may also improve the amount of time it takes for certain injuries to heal. Many athletes enjoy using infrared sauna as part of their performance and recovery regimen.
For first time users it is best to be conservative with the amount of time you spend in the sauna. Staying in for too long can cause skin irritation. This can be hard to judge for new users and is best avoided by limiting the amount of time in the sauna.
--Dr. Alex Tauberg, Tauberg Chiropractic & Rehabilitation
The human body is like a sponge and it absorbs nutrients and toxins. The main sources of toxins come from the food, water, air, personal care products, cleaning agents, and sick buildings. These toxins need to be detoxified and excreted periodically or else they cause many health challenges and diseases. One of the best ways to detox is through sweating. Sweating also effectively helps get rid of toxins that are on the skin, as the skin is the largest organ of the body. Saunas are one of the best ways to elicit sweating, which is a form of detox. There are many different types of saunas and my recommendation is infrared saunas because infrared light transmits a wavelength of light that increases detoxification and stimulates oxygenation in cells which helps with healing. Those who are sensitive to heat can try infrared saunas as they feel less suffocating. Those who have low blood pressure, hypoglycemic, nausea, dizziness, and a history of vasovagal syncope should consult with their doctor before using a sauna.
--Dr. Calvin Ng, Cohn Health Institute
Saunas can be good for your health overall, but like everything else need to be experienced in moderation. Promoting a healthy sweat can help individuals achieve their weight loss goals, promote a detox or cleansing regimen, or simply reduce stress and help people achieve deep relaxation. Dry and wet saunas alike can help further these and other fitness goals, but can also present certain dangers under different circumstances. Sitting in a sauna excessively can lead to dehydration, lightheadedness, migraines, burns or other medical issues which need to be prevented at all costs. Ultimately a sauna can be helpful, but should be exited whenever any negative effects are experienced or foreshadowed.
--Jamie Bacharach, Acupuncture Jerusalem