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What are the health benefits of sitting in a sauna?-1658375377361189

The effects of heat are the same whether it's dry or moist, says Dr. Parikh. This means you'll still get the same benefits whether you sweat it out in a sauna or steam room.

 

There is, however, one extra benefit to steam rooms for anyone who has respiratory problems like asthma or allergies. “Medications for these kinds of respiratory problems might dry out your breathing passages,” says Dr. Parikh. “Steam will moisturize and open the lungs a little more and hydrate the respiratory tract.” If you struggle with congestion, the steam can also act as a humidifier and help clear your nasal passages for easier breathing.

 

Research on the use of dry saunas has shown that they can provide these benefits.

 

1. Improved circulation

Anything that raises your body temperature will increase your heart rate, which in turn increases your circulation, says Denise Millstine, MD, an internist at Mayo Clinic’s family medicine office in Scottsdale, Arizona.

 

Sitting in a sauna is almost like walking on a treadmill at a regular pace, says Dr. Parikh. Because of the heat, your heart has to pump harder to circulate your blood, which means you’re getting some cardio benefits even though all you’re doing is sitting in the heat. (Keep in mind, though, it's still no replacement for exercise, which has tons of other body-benefits.)

 

2. Lowered blood pressure

Spending time in a sauna can lower your blood pressure, says Dr. Millstine, but you wouldn’t want to go into a sauna if you have uncontrolled blood pressure.

 

“Studies have shown that traditional Finnish sauna bathing is associated with overall lower blood pressure when people are using it regularly, she explains. “So physiologically, much like exercise, your blood pressure would go up initially and then long-term, it would likely result in better management of your blood pressure and a lowering of your blood pressure.”

 

In fact, people can see improved cardiovascular health from sauna use. Research shows that people who regularly use a sauna (at least four times a week for 20 minutes) have a significantly lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and dementia, notes Dr. Parikh.

 

3. Stress relief

Sauna bathing is a regular part of Scandinavian culture, says Dr. Millstine, and is viewed as a way to destress and relax.

 

 

4. Glowy skin

Using a sauna can benefit your overall skin health, as it’s bringing blood flow to the surface of your skin before you start sweating.

“Regular sauna use makes the skin more robust, meaning it sort of firms it up and makes it more elastic, which is good for aesthetic reasons, but also because the skin acts like a general health barrier,” says Dr. Millstine.

 

5. Reduced joint stiffness and muscle soreness

Using a sauna is beneficial for workout recovery, as it's going to result in loosening up any tense muscles after a workout.

“The heat can make your muscles more pliable and elastic, so it would probably help with workout recovery soreness,” says Dr. Milstine. Anecdotally, people with stiff joints and body aches swear by saunas for easing pain. Sauna use can also help with tension-type headaches, likely because it reduces muscle soreness that contributes to them, she adds.

 

6. Stronger immune system

Using a sauna isn’t directly tied to better immunity, but if you associate sauna bathing with relaxation, it can reduce stress, which can impair your immune system's function. Sauna usage has also been shown to decrease circulating levels of inflammatory markers, which mess with your immune system response too.

 

 

7. Better mood

Some studies show that sauna sessions can lift your mood, which could, again, be tied to the relaxation factor. However, men in Finland who regularly used a sauna had a decreased risk of psychosis, according to one study, and sauna usage can reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, another study showed.

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