The scientific health benefits of saunas

Sweat for your Health!

You may have heard that stepping into a sauna after a workout or at the spa can be a great way to relax and sooth aching muscles. While this is very true there are several additional health benefits which can come from regular sauna use. For hundreds of years Scandinavian countries have been using saunas for their alleged health benefits, and now scientists are paying close attention.

Many studies are showing that regular sauna use has a strong correlation with life longevity. We are also starting to understand the biological mechanisms by which saunas act upon the body in order detox the body, improve immunity, aid in weight loss, and much more…. This article will outline and examine 8 scientifically proven health benefits of saunas.

Sauna Health Emerald Wellness Edmonton.jpg

8 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Saunas


1 - Boost your Immune System

Stepping into a hot sauna when you have a cold might seem counterintuitive but it may actually help you get better faster. A study conducted by the Journal of Human Kinetics examined the effects of sauna use on the immune system of both athletes and non-athletes.

After using a sauna the subjects were tested for a number of immune system markers. It was discovered that sauna use was correlated with an increased number of white blood cells, lymphocyte, neutrophil, and basophil counts, showing that sauna use is able to stimulate the immune system. Interestingly, the athletic subjects in the study actually received greater immune system benefits than the non-athletic subjects. This indicates that exercise combined with sauna could be a great lifestyle combination for jacking up your immune system.

Sauna Medical Research done in Germany and Finland has also shown that regular sauna use can reduce the chance of getting a cold or influenza by 30 percent.

2 - Improve Sleep Quality

If you are struggling with a bout of insomnia engaging in sauna use a few hours before bed can be a great way to induce higher quality sleep. Researchers have discovered that sauna use helps provide individuals with deeper, more restorative sleep, and can also relieve chronic tension and chronic fatigue issues which are often linked to poor sleep quality. This is most likely a result of the beneficial endorphins which are released into the body during a sauna. Endorphins can work to soothe aching muscles, promote a feeling of tranquility, minimize chronic pain conditions, and help with relaxation and sleep.

3 - Positively Affect Heart Health and Longevity

A new study conducted by JAMA Internal Medicine has shown that regular sauna use may be an excellent way to keep your heart healthy and extend life-span. Researchers examined the lives of 2,300 men for an average of 20 years, and found that the more sessions per week an individual spent in a sauna, the lower their risk of fatal coronary disease and sudden cardiac death. Regular sauna use was also a great indicator for extending the life of participants with other illnesses, such as cancer.

The men who averaged 4-7 sauna sessions per week, each session at least 20 minutes long, achieved the greatest health benefits and greatest reduction in chances of heart disease. This benefit to cardiovascular health is likely due to sauna use decreasing an individual’s blood pressure and increasing blood vessel diameter.

4 - Detox the Body of Chemicals and Heavy Metals

When it comes to detoxification processes in the body one usually envisions the liver. This being said our skin is also an excellent detoxification organ, and the way by which it can detox is through sweating. Unfortunately, many of us do not sweat enough to make use of this excellent detoxification process. Sweating allows us to expel nasty toxins and heavy metals stored in fat cells, and essentially purify the body from the inside out. Jumping in a sauna is one of the most efficient ways to get a good sweat going. Just be careful to stay hydrated.

5 - Rejuvenate your Skin

When your body produces sweat in a sauna this increases the rate at which dead skin cells are replaced and also helps to eliminate bacteria in the skin and sweat ducts. When you sweat, this movement of fluids to the skin acts to deliver mineral-rich liquids to the cells, which increases firmness and reduces the appearance of wrinkles.. The cleansing of pores is also able to increase capillary circulation which can lead to softer skin and a more youthful appearance. Getting your sweat on in sauna can help your skin glow.

6 - Improved Resilience to Stress

Putting your body under short durations of environmental stress actually works to strengthen your body and its ability to handle different stressors. Similar to how working out, which puts stress on your muscles and heart, is beneficial to your health, engaging in the high temperatures of a sauna is another form of a beneficial stressor which makes you more resilient. Several research studies have shown that sauna use can prevent muscle loss by producing heat-shock proteins, which can also be used by our cells to better counteract potentially harmful things to our bodies such pollutants, toxins, stress, and more.

Essentially the high temperature experienced in a sauna triggers a hormetic response in our bodies which is crucial for improving our ability to handle many health stressors.

7 - Arthritic and Muscular Pain Relief

Studies have shown that sauna use is able to increase the release of anti-inflammatory compounds such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol, growth hormones, and natural pain-killing endorphins. The result of this often leads to local and systemic pain relief as well as improved mobility for individuals suffering from muscular and arthritic pain.

8 - Fat Loss, Muscle Gain, and Athletic Recovery

It sounds strange that you could lose weight and build muscle by simple sitting in a sauna, but it is possible. Sauna therapy is able to promote muscle growth and fat loss by improving our insulin sensitivity and reducing muscle protein catabolism. Both of these biological mechanisms are important for muscle growth and weight control.

Furthermore, the beneficial heat shock proteins which are increased by sustained sauna use are extremely important for healthy muscle growth. Studies have shown that individuals who weight train, but due to injury have to stop for a period of time, are able to substantially offset muscle loss by simply engaging in regular sauna sessions.

You can derive many important health benefits by implementing regular sauna use in your life. Likely you can gain access to a high quality sauna at your local gym. You can also purchase an infrared sauna to enjoy sauna therapy in the comfort of your own home. Remember that more frequent use is correlated with greater health benefits, but always be careful. Certain medical conditions may be negatively affected by high temperatures and it is always important to stay hydrated and replace your electrolytes when using a sauna.