Sit back, relax, and enjoy all the health benefits sauna bathing can bring outside of just relaxation and pleasure. A recent report published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings found a correlation between sauna bathing and multiple health benefits including vascular disease. The report reviewed epidemiological, experimental, and interventional evidence to study the underlying association of sauna bathing and its health benefits, areas of uncertainty, and implications for clinical practice.
Sauna bathing is a thousand-year-old tradition in Finland but is becoming increasingly popular in other populations. Sauna bathing is a form of heat therapy characterized by exposure to high temperatures of 80 to 100 degrees C with a humidity of 10% to 20%. In Finland, a typical person has at least one sauna bath per week, with a frequency up to 2 to 3 times per week for some individuals. These sauna stays may last between 5 to 20 minutes depending on the individual’s preferences. During a sauna bath, the heart rate may increase up to 120 to 150 beats/min, with increased blood volume to peripheral parts of the body and potentially increased muscle blood flow.
The research team consisted of scientists from the University of Bristol, the University of Eastern Finland, and the University of Jyväskylä. The report looked at observational studies, randomized controlled trials, and non-randomized controlled trials from MEDLINE and EMBASE from inception until February 24, 2018. This study aimed to aggregate data from the past decade on sauna bathing and the potential health benefits, with particular emphasis on the Finnish saunas that are most widely studied to date.
The report found that the benefits of sauna bathing are due to the effects of it on circulatory, respiratory, cardiovascular and immune functions. The responses produced by a sauna bath were found to correspond to the effect produced by moderate to high-intensity physical activity like walking while alleviating conditions such as arthritis and headache. They showed that sauna bathing is associated with lower risk of vascular diseases like high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease as well as nonvascular conditions such as pulmonary disease and mental health disorders. Regular sauna bathing also reduced blood pressure, inflammation, oxidative stress, circulation of bad cholesterol, and vascular resistance while contributing to levels of circulating hormones and critical cardiovascular markers.
The report emphasizes that sauna bathing is linked to an array of health benefits and would be a remedy to add in lifestyle interventions to support health and wellness, particularly in those who have difficulty exercising. Sauna bathing is a safe activity that can even be used in people with stable cardiovascular disease when used sensibly for an appropriate time. Based on this current knowledge and evidence sauna bathing has therapeutic potential to reduce adverse risks in the general population. Overall sauna bathing is a well-tolerated recreational activity with an excellent safety profile, easy to use and enjoyable, while not involve physical exertion.
To learn more about the benefits of Saunas watch the video below!