Saunas have been around in one form or another for thousands of years. From European steam baths to Indian “sweat lodges,” people have recognized the value of a good sweat through the ages.
According to many health professionals, the benefits of regular sauna use are widespread, and include: strengthened immune system, improved blood circulation, enhanced detoxification processes, deep skin cleansing and rejuvenation and tension and stress relief. During a sauna, blood flow to the skin increases to as high as 50 to70 percent of cardiac output. This figure is usually around 5 to 10 percent. This brings nutrients to subcutaneous and surface tissue resulting in glowing healthy skin. Profuse sweating has been shown to enhance the detoxifying ability of the skin by opening pores and flushing impurities from the body.
When you are exposed to a high heat infrared sauna it creates an artificial fever state within your body. Fever is part of the body’s natural healing process. Fever stimulates the immune system which results in increased production of disease fighting white blood cells and other antibodies.
Perhaps the greatest benefit sauna users can expect is the impact they have on the heart. The heart benefits of regular sauna use have been studied and proven through medical studies. One study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology tested sauna therapy on a group of people with risk factors for coronary disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking. The subjects of the study used a sauna daily, and in only two weeks, doctors noticed improved blood vessel function of 40 percent. The end result of the study was that even people who currently suffered from heart disease or severely blocked arteries realized great benefit from regular sauna therapy.
The ways in which saunas benefit the most important muscle in your body are varied. During a 10-20 minute sauna session, your heart rate increases by 50 to 75 percent. Sitting in a sauna generally gives you the same kind of benefit you would receive from a brisk walk. Through exercise, the blood vessels relax and heart function improves. This process is called vasodilatation and it improves the way the heart pumps blood to the rest of the body. This can have an effect on blood pressure and other coronary risk factors. If you’ve experienced any heart problems or your family has a history of coronary risk, a sauna is definitely a worthwhile investment commonly recommended by doctors and cardiologists.
Effective blood circulation is one of the main elements to healthy heart function. When your blood is circulating well, it helps to transport nutrients throughout your entire body. It also helps purge toxins from your skin and body tissue, improves the function of your liver, kidneys and of course your heart. As your body heats up in a sauna, it increases sweat production in an attempt to keep cool. Your heart ends up working harder, pumping blood at a greater rate, which ends up providing many of the same conditioning benefits of aerobic exercise.
Find a way to add regular saunas to your routine, and your heart will thank you.