If you’re looking for ways to improve your health and well-being, sauna sessions and the sweating they enable could be the answer. The solution is not new, as sweating has been used as a health-boosting practice for approximately three millennia. The first ones to adopt it were the Mayans in Central America, who used sweat houses to improve their health and during religious ceremonies.
Most cultures have their own traditions of using heat as a mean of relaxation, therapy, and during various rituals. Romans had their ancient baths. Turks have their steam baths, and hot tubs are the go-to solution for most Americans.
Benefits of sauna
Saunas are the most effective and beneficial techniques of using heat for health and relaxation purposes. They have been used for centuries in Finland, where over 30% of the adult population enjoys sauna sessions regularly. In the U.S., statistics mention over one million saunas, but we have reason to suspect their number is far greater.
A sauna is basically an unpainted room with walls and floors covered in wood and an electric heater filled with rocks. The temperatures start at 900F at floor level and go up to 185, even 2000F towards the ceiling. Humidity varies from one country and type of sauna to another.
Finnish saunas, for example, are very dry. Turkish baths, on the other hand, rely on steam. High-end sauna rooms have effective floor water draining systems and efficient ventilation systems that exchange the air in the room up to eight times an hour.
Why would people sweat their heart out in such a room? The reasons are numerous but can be easily summarized in one phrase: to improve and maintain their health and well-being. Throughout time, sauna-use has been proven to bring valuable health benefits. We will review the ones supported by scientific evidence in the following lines.
1. Boosts cardiovascular health and reduces disease risks
Research shows that repeated sauna therapy improves cardiac function and vascular function, especially in chronic heart failure patients and coronary risk factor patients. Several studies confirm that Waon therapy, a sauna-like form of therapy improves peripheral arterial disease and benefits cardiovascular function. A systematic review of the available research published in August 2018 concluded that sauna therapy is an excellent option to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases.
2. Relieves rheumatological and immune-mediated disease Symptoms
Sauna therapy has been shown to provide relief to patients diagnosed with rheumatological and immune-mediated diseases. In one study, 34 patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis experienced significant pain and stiffness relief during four weeks of infra-red sauna therapy.
In another study, 44 patients suffering from fibromyalgia (some of them in combination with another rheumatological disease) experienced reduced pain and symptoms and an improvement in their quality of life after 12 weeks of therapy based on far-infrared sauna and underwater exercises. Research shows that Waon therapy is a powerful adjuvant for treating chronic fatigue syndrome as well. It decreases fatigue and improves mood, anxiety, and depression in patients without causing adverse effects. It also increases blood flow to specific regions of the brain.