Each time new research is performed on saunas and whole body hyperthermia, good news comes about for our industry and the health of our clients (present, future and past). Recent sauna studies have shown that taking a regular sauna is very good for boosting the health of your immune system, healing pain, assisting in weight loss and preventing the risk of chronic conditions and common diseases.
As you know from reading my book (and this website), bathing in a sauna is passive heat therapy which originates from the Nordic countries. However, forms of saunas have existed for millennia in many cultures worldwide. This could be in the form of heat therapy such as hammams, Turkish baths, steam saunas, infrared saunas (and Waon therapy) and the hot rock sauna. No matter what the form, the goal is the same – raising your core body temperature to produce a sweat. However, because of its age, the traditional Finnish (hot rock) sauna is the most researched to date.
In 2015, researchers from the University of Eastern Finland studied 2,300 male daily sauna users and monitored their health for more than twenty years. They discovered that these men suffered drastically fewer deaths from cardiac-related events (heart attacks and strokes).
In a study by the same group the following year, taking regular sauna sessions were found to significantly reduce the risk of dementia. Additionally, the latest research in 2017 involved recording the habits and health of 1,621 men over 22 years. Taking regular saunas (four to seven times a week) was shown to slash the risk of high blood pressure by almost 50%.
While anecdotal, I have seen this same result myself. My blood pressure dropped from 136/98 to normal levels. This is because when you take an infrared sauna your blood vessels naturally vasodilate (expand) and it takes a lot of pressure off how much effort it takes for your heart to pump blood through your body; thus, lowering blood pressure. This leads to increased blood flow, which improves cardiovascular function and subsequently reduces the risk of heart disease.
Consistent use of an infrared sauna has been shown to produce effects analogous to exercise known to prevent the development of several diseases. Additional studies from the Universities of Bristol and Eastern Finland agree that people combining both exercise and infrared sauna sessions enjoy a reduced risk of dying from any disease when compared to just exercise or sauna bathing alone. Infrared sauna use has also been linked with an improvement in pain management and the many symptoms associated with musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The same researchers from Bristol and Eastern Finland recently studying this group of 2,300 Finnish, middle-aged men found that the men who consistently used saunas were also less likely to develop pneumonia. It is still uncertain how sauna use reduces the risk of respiratory diseases however one theory concludes that the heat from a sauna degrades congestion in the lungs and improves ventilation.
Another viable theory suggests that sauna use downgrades inflammation and oxidative stress. These are factors commonly interwoven in most disease conditions even as infection develops. Evidence from another experimental study revealed that regular sauna bathing substantially reduced the intensity of chronic-tension headaches. Additionally, this evidence includes the reduction in the incidence of common colds. Those suffering from chronic conditions such as asthma and diseases of the lungs also enjoy better lung function and ease of breathing after consistent sauna usage.
There is no better time than the present to begin spending time in a far infrared sauna. As winter progresses flu season is just around the corner. The risk of contracting a common cold or developing any number of respiratory issues substantially increases. Blood pressure also increases in the winter. This can raise the risk of a stroke or heart attack. Clearly, it is evident that consistent use of a far infrared sauna promises many benefits other than protection from several diseases and conditions. It cannot be surpassed as it aids in relaxation and a great deal of pure pleasure.
Far infrared sauna use is truly an enjoyable and relaxing activity. It is easy to incorporate into a busy lifestyle, allows for greater physical and mental health and can be an extremely relaxing experience. If you can stand the heat then get into the sauna!