Sauna’s have often just been considered a relaxation tool, or a way to shed a couple quick pounds if you’re a weightlifter or a wrestler and need to weigh-in at a certain weight. And maybe as a way to sweat out the booze after a late night…
Turns out, though, there might be more to saunas than we thought. A recent study from the University of Eastern Finland published in the American Journal of Hypertension discovered some interesting science behind the ancient practice of sauna bathing: Frequent sauna bathing might help reduce coronary diseases, as well as sudden cardiac death, hypertension, and even Alzheimrer’s and dementia.
The study, which looked at more than 1,600 middle-aged men over the course of 22 years, measured the physical changes in the body while spending time in a sauna and discovered that 30 minutes of sauna bathing can decrease blood pressure and arterial stiffness and increase vascular compliance.
Specifically, the study found that men who took two to three saunas a week had a lower chance of developing high blood pressure (24 percent less chance), and men who took four to seven saunas a week had a 46 percent less chance. The researchers believe this is because of the temperature increase that happens in the body in a sauna, which dilates blood vessels and increases resting heart rate to allow for better circulation.
Other sauna benefits:
•Muscle and Blood Vessel Function
Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health suggests sauna bathing after a workout soothes and relaxes muscles and expands or opens blood vessels to optimize blood vessel function.
Sweating profusely helps remove toxins from the body. Saunas do just that!
• Immune System
Sauna sessions help produce white blood cells, which are the body’s way of fighting against infections.
• Endurance Performance
Our body’s all have their own tolerance for heat. Using saunas often increase our heat tolerance, which is especially important if you’re an endurance athlete—it means you’ll feel less fatigued and have more energy for prolonged periods of time, as opposed to overheating during a long race.
•Great Hair Days
We have a gland on our scalps called the sebaceous gland. It releases compounds that condition and moisturize our hair. Saunas activate that gland, meaning good hair days for days!
As we age, more and more dead cells accumulate in our skin’s pores as our skin becomes less elastic. Saunas improve blood flow to our skin, which helps new skin grow and removes dead cells that have been building up. So basically saunas will help you look younger!
If nothing else, it’s a great way to warm up, get a good cleansing sweat going, and a great way to clear your head and relax. You can’t go wrong, right? Hit up a sauna already.