A trip into the steam room is one of the most relaxing pauses you can take in your day.
Even though the time spent inside the sauna is typically quite short, --on average between 10 to 15 minutes-- recent studies have surfaced that just a few sauna visits a week can lead to improved heart health and increased disease prevention.
Saunas, Your Heart, and YOU
“Regular sauna bathing is associated with reduced risk of hypertension, which may be a mechanism underlying the decreased cardiovascular risk associated with sauna use” said Francesco Zaccardi and Peter Willeit, members of the team that conducted the study.
“Sauna bathing is associated with reduced cardiovascular risk, but the mechanisms underlying this beneficial effect are not entirely understood. We aimed to assess the relationship between sauna bathing and risk of incident hypertension.”
In the study, over 1,500 middle aged men were divided up into three groups based on how often they frequented a sauna:
The results of the study found that over a long period of time, the men that were part of Group C displayed the lowest signs of hypertension and heart issues.
The moral of the story? Treat yo’self, and don’t skip out on that trip to the sauna and/or steam room this week.
Wait, So How Does Sweating Help My Heart and Body?
As if we needed another reason to spend more time in saunas and steam rooms... but why is it that sweating it out can be such a help in detoxification, aiding our hearts, and overall health boosts?
When we break down the science of sweating, the answers become a little clearer:
Sweating and heat helps improve blood circulation
When the heat goes up around us, our bodies respond by moving blood around your body faster, and that is done by your blood pathways (veins and arteries) dilating and opening. The blood moves around your body faster because there is more room for it to flow, a result of the dilation.
The reason your body wants your blood to start flowing faster and freer is because it wants to cool down, and having it circulate avoids any one area of your body overheating over another –your body is trying to have one consistent temperature, so it spreads around the heat rather than keeps it all focused in one spot.
Your body produces sweat to try and cool its surface down
There are few greater feelings that a strong breeze flowing over your moist skin after a workout. It is this exact feeling that makes sweating so useful.
Your body knows that the air outside your body is colder than the temperature inside. In an attempt to cool down, your body attempts to harness the colder air outside.
Your body produces sweat, which is a mixture of both your body’s natural water and salts, to coat your body so that it can cool down faster. Sweating is most effective when it happens outdoors, as the natural breezes and winds passing over your sweat help drop your body temperature down fast.
Assists in draining toxins
When you sweat, your body pushes out water and salt, and that combination often consists of natural toxins in your body that are trying to leave your system. Besides a defense system designed to help cool you down, sweating is also a method used to expel unwanted toxins.
Your body can push out sweat and toxins any time it needs to. Think back to when you feel sick, or nauseous. You feel a cold sweat, right? That is your body switching into defense mode and trying to expel the toxins in whatever way it can. Your body sweats out toxins both when it feels threatened and when you exercise.
Relaxes your muscles and body, assisting in relieving stress
Especially after a workout, hitting the sauna is great for your body because it relaxes the muscles that have just been exercised. The heat combined with your blood flowing that much more freely (from the dilation) helps your muscles loosen, relax and soften.
This total relaxation of tense points on your body allows you to decompress and let go of a lot of stress, which can lead to less joint and muscles tension pain. That level of relaxation also assists in allowing your mind to slow down and relax as well, leading to an easier time for meditation.
Check with Your Doctor Before Entering
Not everyone can benefit from time in the sauna. If you are not sure if you are healthy enough to spend time in a steam room or sauna due to a heart issue, or any other possible health ailment, be sure to check in with your primary physician.
Zaccardi, Francesco et al. "Sauna Bathing And Incident Hypertension: A Prospective Cohort Study." American Journal of Hypertension 30.11 (2017): 1120-1125. Web. 9 Oct. 2017.
Genuis SJ, et al. "Blood, Urine, And Sweat (BUS) Study: Monitoring And Elimination Of Bioaccumulative Toxic Elements.” Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. 2011.
Sears, Margaret E., Kathleen J. Kerr, and Riina I. Bray. “Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury in Sweat: A Systematic Review.” Journal of Environmental and Public Health 2012 (2012): 184745. PMC. Web. 9 Oct. 2017.
Crinnion, W.. “Sauna as a Valuable Clinical Tool for Cardiovascular, Autoimmune, Toxicant induced and other Chronic Health Problems”. Alternative Medicine Review. 2011.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with questions regarding a medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read here. This article is for general information only.