The Benefits of Saunas

Most of us have tried a sauna at one time or another in our lives. We have sat in the hot environment sweating profusely for as long as we felt we could and then jumped into a cold shower or bath.

And then repeat the sauna/cold shower routine again (and again maybe).

The physiological responses we experienced from the sauna can vary, some people feel invigorated and energised whereas others can be drained and lethargic. Regular sauna users comment that "good sweating" offers them the opportunity and the space to think, to be creative and to escape from their everyday lives.


But what are the benefits of saunas?

We will begin by dispelling a myth associated with saunas that it detoxifies the body. There are claims made that the action of heat and sweating in the sauna releases toxins and poisons that may be present beneath the skin. Every day we are exposed to various chemicals either from the atmosphere, physical contact or through the food we eat. Our bodies are actually pretty effective at getting rid of the things that it does not require and the 'toxins' are broken down by the liver into the blood or bile before being filtered by the kidneys (or the intestines). They are then excreted in the urine or feces, but not sweated out of the body.

Sweating is an automatic response of the body to overheating and the primary objective of sweating is to cool the body. The content of sweat is primarily water with some trace of minerals, which does not warrant the use of the phrase detoxification when it comes to using a sauna.

Psychological Advantages of Saunas

Many of the real benefits of saunas stem from the psychological rather than the physiological systems of the body. For example, there are many claims made that saunas relieve stress. By frequenting a sauna on a regular basis then you are allowing yourself the time to be in a quiet space without any external distractions. There are no mobile phones or laptops in saunas so you can cut yourself off from the perennial blasts of electronic communication many of us are constantly faced with. In addition, although saunas are often a private place for contemplation, often they can be quite sociable places to catch up with friends and acquaintances.

A common finding from those who use saunas is that the quality of their sleep can be improved. Studies have indicated that sauna use can lead to more relaxed and effective sleep.

Regardless of your reasons for being in a steam room or the like, one positive aspect is that people just find that they make them feel good. Whether it is the heat of the room, the socialisation or the mental and physical downtime, taking a sauna lifts ones mood.

Physiological Advantages

If you are feeling stiff and sore or tired and lethargic then taking a sauna can help relax and loosen tight muscles. The moist heat feels as though it penetrates the deeper layers of the soft tissues in a similar way to an effective deep tissue massage. Some people believe that it helps them recover from intense exercise so that it may improve the quality of their training.

The superficial blood vessels may dilate which probably leads to an increase in circulation which in itself may aid the natural healing processes of the body.

Another potential physiological reason that some people visit saunas is to improve the quality of their skin. The intensity of the heat and the sweating feels cleansing to the skin (particularly if combined with some kind of skin brushing). Dead skin cells may be replaced and clogged pores or sweat ducts may become unblocked.

Despite the potential advantages of using saunas, there are some precautions and recommendations about the use of saunas and it is advisable to investigate whether there are reasons why you should not use them (or how long you should stay in them). If you are in doubt then it is a good idea to consult your doctor.