TGIF, lovely people! One more week of Neurology practice complete, and I am spent! Thankfully I'm soon off to a mysterious sauna session with a friend. Mysterious, because it's supposed to be amazingly relaxing, and it involves some sort of full body oil wrap, or pack or something like that. I realize this is incredibly vague, but I honestly don't remember the details of the session, and I'll update you on my experience with the mysterious Sauna later. Bear with me.
I'll make this Friday post quick, so following is a list of the positive effects of regular sauna use:
1. The heart The heart muscle during the stay in the sauna cabin works under optimal conditions, resulting in a strengthened heart muscle which cause an increase in stroke volume (blood pumped out of the heart), increasing aerobic capacity. Sauna sessions also improves the elasticity of blood vessels.
2. The skin Under the influence of hot and cold stimuli of the sauna, the skin practices accelerated opening and closing of the sweat glands and capillaries. This means that through increased speed of sweating, more waste material is removed. The dry heat generated by a sauna can increase circulation. Blood vessels dilate, allowing more blood to circulate through your vessels, bringing nutrients and oxygen to the subcutaneous and surface skin tissue. This can give your skin a natural, healthy glow.
Saunas increase metabolism. Fat deposits are removed from the muscles to make room for newly-formed muscle cells, post work-out for example.
Saunas strengthen the immune system and decrease the susceptibility to infection. German researchers have studied kindergarten children; they took sauna baths every day for two weeks. As a result to sauna therapy, these kids proved to have a stronger immunity to upper respiratory problems, colds and infections. A “feverish” state and an increased metabolic rate is essential for body repair because they stimulate the immune system to produce disease fighting cells and chemicals such as white blood cells, interferons and antibodies. Sauna baths not only increase the immunity, but also allows the person to recuperate from any tissue injury.
The humidity level of most saunas ranges between 15-30%, which causes the body to sweat profusely. Sweating helps to rid the body of toxins that have accumulated and makes the skin more efficient in the process of waste removal.
6. Improved mental health:
Regular sauna bath can also help mental and physical relaxation and release tension. People with sleep disorders such as insomnia and improper sleep conditions can benefit from the sauna as it is very effective in inducing a good long relaxing sleep. Positive mood, especially relaxation and stress relief, is the most frequently cited psychological effect of sweating. In one of the larger studies, researchers Frankva and Franek found that sweating resulted in improvements in mental satisfaction, energy, relaxation, frustration, and anxiety.
7. Weight loss:
Together with and increased basal metabolic rate, saunas induce weight loss as 15-20 minutes of sauna is almost equivalent to 1-2 hours of brisk walk or 1 hour of exercise. However, this effect can vary from person to person based on their physical condition.
8. Pain relief:
Saunas aid in relaxation of strained muscles and relieves pain and stiffness Heat also allows the muscles and other soft tissues to relax; thereby relieving muscle strains, joint stiffness and pain.
9. Reduces respiratory congestion:
The dry steam from a sauna also opens the nasal passages and can relieve head colds and sinus infections.
10. Anti- cellulite:
Many attribute an anti-cellulite effect to the detoxifying and fat-burning result of regular sauna use.
Frankova, E., & Franek, A. (1990). Relaxace v saunove lazni. Ceskoslovenska Psychologie, 34, 229–241.
Benefits and risks of sauna bathing.
Department of Internal Medicine and Biocenter Oulu (MLH), University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland.
Harvard Health Publications;
Sauna Health Benefits : Are saunas healthy or harmful? November 2005