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Why Sauna Therapy Is Prime Preventive Medicine

By Fitoru | 13 July 2018
lady enjoying dry sauna

Recent data reveal that only 1 in 4 Americans engages in sufficient regular exercise, which is known to improve, if not prolong, life. Regular exercise helps to combat the risks of developing a gamut of diseases and health impairments, including heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. And of those folks who do find time in their busy schedules to rush in and out of the gym every week, even fewer carve out a few more minutes after exercise to reap the amazing health benefits of regular sauna therapy.

There are marvelous perks in that heated chamber just waiting to be unleashed. Repeated sauna therapy sessions can drastically reduce risks for developing complications linked to cardiovascular disease, high stress levels, mental illness, and gastrointestinal disorders. Coupled with a balanced diet, good rest, and proper hydration, sauna therapy can potentially thwart major wellness mishaps before they occur.

Here’s How to Get Started

If you consider yourself a constituent of the three-quarter population that lacks exercise, first determine the type of exercise you want to do, then find a space or commercial facility that can accommodate your fitness needs. Finding a workout location that also houses a sauna is optimal for the sake of time, but medical facilities, spas, and salons may also provide sauna therapy. Since consistent sauna therapy, as with regular exercise, is what furnishes substantive health rewards, it is equally important to select the right type of sauna.

Modern-day saunas include Turkish-style Hammam, Russian Banya, Finnish-style, or some fancy iterations of these classic styles. The infrared sauna, however, has grown in popularity in recent years. Infrared sauna cabins use infrared emitters at various wavelengths without the water or additional humidity typical of Finnish saunas that require throwing water over heated rocks, for example. Infrared saunas usually operate at lower temperatures (from 45-60 degrees Celsius) than temperatures (from 80-100 degrees Celsius) in more classic saunas. And if at-home health regimens are your thing, safe and easy-to-set-up at-home infrared sauna kits are available online or at major hardware stores.

Brace Yourself for These Breathtaking Benefits

Scientific studies that acclaim sauna therapy’s medicinal potentialities involve short exposure times (approximately 5-20 minutes per session) over the course of several months or more. Infrared wavelengths can penetrate deep (up to 1.5 inches) into muscle and connective tissues—which sets infrared saunas apart from other heat therapy treatments, like steam therapy. Infrared wavelengths reach and then loosen tight muscles and joints.

While steam room temperatures may fluctuate during a therapy session, infrared sauna temperatures are more consistent, allowing for more intense short-term heat exposure that elevates your skin and core body temperatures. In response, your body releases relaxation hormones, brain-regulating hormones, and toxin-filled sweat, which promotes temperature homeostasis and detoxification. Under intense heat conditions, your blood vessels dilate, which lowers blood pressure, increases blood circulation (and the presence of the oxygen and nutrients blood carries), and improves lymphatic drainage. These optimal health conditions make way for:

  • Improved mental clarity, and the potential for fewer incidences of depression or anxiety
  • Lower incidences of heart disease complications
  • Faster healing and workout recovery times
  • Higher metabolic rates that give rise to more sustained weight loss
  • Consistent gastrointestinal fecal elimination
  • Lower incidences of skin disorders (e.g., psoriasis)
  • Lower risk of injury when utilized as a pre-workout strategy
  • Better sleep and better relaxation

Know Your Risks

As with any new health regimen, it is best to consult your physician to discuss risks particular to your health circumstances, especially people with compromised immune systems, diabetes, post-operative wounds, coronary heart disease, or old myocardial infarction. Although sauna therapy tends to yield great skincare results, atopic dermatitis sufferers may experience discomfort. There are very few recorded myocardial infarctions and sudden deaths linked to sauna exposure. Never consume alcohol (including wine) when sauna bathing. Alcohol consumption increases the risks of arrhythmia, abnormally low blood pressure, and sudden death.

If you have never before taken on a comprehensive full-body heat therapy regimen, gradually expose yourself to high temperatures in small increments. For example during the first few weeks, try 5 minutes of exposure at a time and observe how your body reacts to the heat. Some doctors recommend no more than 20 minutes per session. Always stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

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