By Hilary Sheinbaum
Depending on your lifestyle and locale, getting into a sauna during summer might seem like a waste of time (especially if you reside or vacation in hot and humid temps, like Florida for example). But, even if you’re sweating profusely on a regular basis, saunas produce an immense amount of benefits that can’t be replicated by simply laying, walking or exercising outside.
For the record: saunas are rooms heated between 150 to 195 degrees Fahrenheit where the temperature and humidity of the room can be controlled by sprinkling water on heater or stove rocks. (The humidity ranges from 10 to 60 percent — or more, FYI). And, the traditional Finnish sauna isn’t the only place that’s heating up. These days, hitting the “sauna” is interchangeably referred to by forms of “sweat bathing” — meaning stepping into wood-burning saunas, electrically heated saunas, manufactured sauna rooms, smoke saunas, steam rooms, infrared rooms, and more.
Whatever method is used (your choice, of course!), go for it! You’ll reap incredible perks for spending time inside the heated vessel. Here are some advantages of sweating it out inside a sauna.
While it isn’t the only method for improving arteries and hearts, saunas can help your most important organs. “Published science studies mainly from medical centers in Japan have documented artery and heart benefits in sick patients,” says Dr. Joel Kahn, a holistic cardiologist who recommends the use of at-home Sunlighten Infrared Saunas. He notes that tests done on arteries show better blood flow, hearts beat stronger, and endurance is increased. Blood pressure improves as well. “Infrared saunas lower blood pressure,” he says.
“For the millions struggling with their blood pressure, sessions in the sauna can be very helpful.”
According to Dr. Khan, saunas are also very helpful as we grow older. “Others benefit from the removal of toxins which accumulate with age,” he says. “These can be measured and include heavy metals like mercury, plastics like BPA, and organic chemicals like PCBs. The sweat induced by infrared sauna is more efficient at removing toxins than sweat from exercise alone.” Fewer toxins mean your pores will be less clogged, which in turn results in smoother skin.
Truth be told, you might only shed a few extra calories than if your body was at rest, but the high temps in saunas do, in fact, cause your heart rate to rise. That said, it’s best to pair sauna use with exercise (where weight loss is more likely to stem from) and allow the sauna to help your muscles recover too. The heat enhances muscle recovery via increased blood flow. To boot, it can also ease arthritis pain and improve joint movement. (So no sore bodies or injuries, here!)
Now that you have the scoop on the hottest wellness trend, it’s time to get sweating!