There was a time when saunas were only found in the fanciest of gyms and health clubs. But now, they are more prevalent in other businesses as well such as the spa, anti-aging clinics, and salons. In fact, it is not uncommon at all to see private residents have their own sauna nowadays in their homes.
There are two main types of saunas to choose from. Infrared saunas are more home-friendly than dry heat saunas, but on the other hand, dry heat saunas can usually get up to a much higher temperature. It all depends on your preference. In an infrared sauna, the body is warmed up by electromagnetic radiation. Dry saunas raise the temperature through a heavy-duty heater. Adding a dry sauna to your home could cost about $5,000. An infrared sauna can be purchased for around $1,000.
We had our own infrared sauna built into the house about a year ago, but there are portable models you can add to your extra bedroom that don’t require any venting and simply plug right into a normal outlet without any special wiring needed! I have used my infrared sauna consistently three or four times a week ever since I got it because of the benefits associated with using an infrared sauna listed below.
Release Stress and Lift Mood
There is nothing better than getting my sauna up to about 120 to 140 degrees and relaxing in there for 20 minutes. All the stresses of the day melt away as I read my book or lay down and listen to music. Sauna use also helps with depression because it massively improves mood. If you ever have insomnia, use the sauna right before going to bed and you will sleep like a baby.
Clearer and Younger Looking Skin
Dermatologists know how well a sauna can improve the appearance of your skin. Once the temperature gets hot enough, the pores open up and the sweating detoxifies the skin by removing the impurities. This will restore the glow to your skin and reduce future breakouts. Plus, the extra circulation as your blood starts to pump away will make your skin look much younger and healthier as the nutrients are being delivered more efficiently.
Inflammation in the body can bring on serious soreness and pain. There have been studies conducted on both animals and humans that show both types of saunas can reduce inflammation and restore mobility to those suffering from occasional pain to even chronic pain like arthritis. There is a reason why professional athletes will sweat away in a sauna after a tough workout. It relieves the soreness associated with hard work. Being able to combat pain without the use of medication is definitely a positive.
There is a differing of opinions when you read what experts have to say about weight loss and saunas. Some experts will say the weight loss is just temporary. However, there was a study conducted by Binghamton University in New York that showed after four months, those using an infrared sauna three times per week for 45 minutes had dropped four percent body fat.
This also falls into the weight loss and diet category, but after sweating like a turned-on faucet for half an hour, the last thing I feel like doing is sitting down and having a meal. In fact, I will either have a nice cold smoothie or protein shake and won’t be hungry again for many hours later. On the days I don’t use the sauna, I probably eat 500 more calories than on the days I do.
Slowed Aging and Increased Lifespan
A study conducted in Finland (1) followed 2,315 men (ages 42-60) for 20 years and discovered that those men who used a sauna 2-3 times per week were 24% less likely to die from all causes. Furthermore, they found that the effects continued to increase with additional sauna use. Those using the sauna 4-7 times per week were 40% less likely to die from all causes. One of the reasons for this may be the activation of heat shock proteins (HSPs) which can repair cell damage to the body caused by aging and prevent future damage by protecting the body against free radicals and increasing anti-oxidant capacity. Higher levels of HSPs have been linked to longevity. Sauna use has also been known to lower blood pressure, help fight diabetes, and reduce rates of heart and cardiovascular disease.
There Are No Negatives
As long as you make certain you are staying hydrated after using the sauna, there really are only positives associated with using it. Everyone has 20 to 30 minutes they can take out of their day to reap these benefits if they plan accordingly. Plus, the infrared saunas have been dropping in price the last couple of years so they can be affordable to most people. Before long, it will be one of your favorite places to go in the house!
(1) Laukkanen T, Khan H, Zaccardi F, Laukkanen JA. Association between sauna bathing and fatal cardiovascular and all-cause mortality events. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(4):542-548. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8187.
Singh R, Kolvraa S, Rattan SIS. Genetics of human longevity with emphasis on the relevance of HSP70 as candidate genes. Front Biosci. 2007;12:4504-4513.
Selsby JT, Rother S, Tsuda S, Pracash O, Quindry J, Dodd SL. Intermittent hyperthermia enhances skeletal muscle regrowth and attenuates oxidative damage following reloading. J Appl Physiol. 2007;102(4):1702-1707. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00722.2006.
Naito H, Powers SK, Demirel HA, Sugiura T, Dodd SL, Aoki J. Heat stress attenuates skeletal muscle atrophy in hindlimb-unweighted rats. J Appl Physiol. 2000;88(1):359-363. doi:10.1152/jappl.2000.88.1.359.