Monday, January 16, 2006

Health Benefits of Saunas

I have been using the sauna at my gym a few times per week after working out for an hour or two. Each time that I have entered the soft red light of the hellishly hot rock pit room, I've wondered what the health benefits were for suffering/staying in there for 10-15 minutes. I finally googled the information today...

During a 10-20 minute sauna session, your heart rate increases by 50-75%. This provides the same metabolic result as physical exercise and the increased cardiac load is the equivalent to a brisk walk. There is a nominal effect on blood pressure because the heat also causes blood vessels in skin to expand to accommodate increased blood flow.

  • Blood vessels become more flexible and there is increased circulation to the extremities. During a sauna, blood flow to the skin increases to as high as 50-70% of cardiac output (compared to the standard 5-10%). This brings nutrients to subcutaneous & surface tissue resulting in glowing healthy skin.
  • Steam baths and saunas induce sweating to provide a comprehensive cleansing of the skin and sweat glands. Skin is the largest organ in the body. 30% of body wastes are passed through the skin. Profuse sweating enhances the detoxifying capacity of the skin by opening pores and flushing impurities from the body.
  • When taking a sauna, skin temperature rises to 40°C (104°F) and internal body temperature rises to about 38°C (100.4°F). Exposure to the high heat creates an artificial fever state. Fever is part of the body’s natural healing process. Fever stimulates the immune system resulting in increased production of disease fighting white blood cells, antibodies and interferon (an anti viral protein with cancer fighting capability).
  • Spas and other such therapeutic facilities utilise saunas and steam baths in conjunction with massage to loosen fatty tissue and assist in the battle against cellulite.
  • Many regular steam and sauna users claim that a “good sweat” at the onset helps relieve and ward off the most severe symptoms of cold or flu.
  • Relief from the pain and stiffness of arthritis.
  • Steam is an excellent treatment for respiratory problems, such as chest congestion, bronchitis, laryngitis and sinusitis.
  • Revives tired and strained muscles after physical exertion.
  • The cleansing effect of profuse perspiration helps provide healthy skin and a clear complexion.

*The main risk of a sauna is staying in too long and fainting from overheating. People who are most susceptible to this are those with heart disease or who have been drinking alcohol. It really isn't a good idea to combine drinking with a sauna.

*Sauna History

*Interesting Sauna Facts

1 comment:

Bud said...

Hmm, haven't been in a sauna in many years. I thought I was all hot and bothered because there were naked chicks in there.Good luck with getting the training job.