A sauna routine might be one of the healthiest habits you can embrace. Besides the incredible pleasure and relaxation you’ll experience soaking up the heat, the all-encompassing warmth of a sauna does wonders for the body. The dry heat (which can reach up to 185 degrees) raises body heat in minutes leading to the average person expelling up to a pint of sweat.
Traditionally known as sauna bathing in Scandinavian countries, saunas significantly improve your skin, body, and even your mood. And it doesn’t matter if you choose to get totally naked or be more conservative, wrapped in a towel or bathrobe, either way works.
What to know before using a sauna
There is accumulating evidence that regular sauna bathing may alleviate and prevent the risk of both acute and chronic disease conditions, as suggested by a 2018 study. While the majority of people can safely use a sauna, it is advised that anyone with high or low blood pressure or with heart disease check with their doctor for their advice before using a sauna.
Before stepping into a sauna, here are some other tips to follow safely enjoying the full experience:
- Avoid staying in a sauna longer than 15-20 minutes.
- On your first visit to a sauna, stay no longer than 10 minutes. It’s best to gradually work up over time.
- Alcohol and medications should be avoided as they can impair sweating leading to overheating either during or after use,
- Gradually cool down afterward.
- After using a sauna, drink at least two to four glasses of cool water to replenish fluids lost from sweating.
- Avoid using a sauna when feeling sick or ill. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded when in a sauna, leave immediately.
- If you start to feel unwell while using a sauna, leave immediately.
- People with eczema or psoriasis should ask their dermatologist prior to using a sauna as the dry heat may aggravate these conditions.
- Public saunas can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold.
- To avoid dehydration, hydrate with water prior to sauna use. Consume water beforehand, during, and after each session.
Benefits of using a sauna
Regular use of a sauna may possibly lead to amazing beneficial health outcomes such as the following:
- Skin health improves
The heat from a sauna is your skin’s best friend. It helps slough off dry skin cells, cleanses pores making your skin appear more clear, and sweating improves better circulation and may enhance collagen production leading to younger-looking skin.
- Eases lower back pain
Saunas make sense for relieving back pain. Heat packs or an Epsom salt bath are well-known for relieving muscle pain or soreness in the back. The results of a 2019 study showed dry sauna therapy might improve quality of life and reduce lower back pain. It even suggested that physicians treating patients with pain recommend dry sauna therapy as an alternative and complementary therapy for people with low back pain.
- Helps you relax and decompress
Stepping into a sauna is like stepping into a warm, quiet place, erasing all distractions in your life. Regular sauna use is perfect for helping your mind and body adapt to stress since we can never eliminate it completely. Sauna’s heat helps relax tired muscles, improves circulation, and stimulates releasing your “feel-good” endorphins.
- May boost the immune system
For healthy individuals, evidence shows that exposure to saunas could boost your immune function. That’s because a sauna session leads to a higher production of white blood cells, necessary for fighting foreign antigens that want to cause havoc in the body. A larger number of white blood cells results in your body fighting infections at a faster rate. This may explain why sauna baths help reduce susceptibility to common colds and infections.
- Deeper sleep
Regular sauna users swear by the deeper, more restful sleep after bathing in the calming heat of a sauna. This simple act of relaxing in a sauna releases endorphins more slowly which is key to helping induce sleep.
- Lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
Emerging evidence suggests that exposure to sauna bathing may protect the brain resulting in less risk of dementia and other neurocognitive disease. A Finnish study suggested men who use a sauna four to seven times weekly compared to men who only used a sauna once a week had a 66% and 65% reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, respectively.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.