Nov 29th, 2021, 02:42 PM

The Science of Sauna Bathing

By Linus Larsson
Image credit: Unsplash/HUUM
Studies show increase in overall health benefits, so they may help you!

Have you gotten the flu yet? Have you started to experience seasonal depression as we lose more and more hours of sunlight? Or are you simply looking for a study break to relax your body and mind? Regardless of the reason, saunas may be exactly what you need!

While a critic might only associate the Scandinavians' sauna use with relaxation or heat exposure in their cold lands, it is these days more widely understood that this Nordic ceremony is way more than that.

Traditional Finnish saunas are the most studied to date and generally involve short exposures (5−20 minutes) at temperatures of 80°C–100°C with dry air (relative humidity of 10% to 20%) interspersed with periods of increased humidity created by the throwing of water over heated rocks. In the past decade, infrared sauna cabins have become increasingly popular, and many cultural variations exists, such as the Turkish style Hammam, the Russian Banya, and so on and so forth. 

In a recent study published by the University of Eastern Finland, scientists uncovered how sauna bathing is associated with several health benefits. The physiological mechanisms with its heat exposure and its effects on a person's health was at interest, and they showed through a 100-subject sample how a 30-minute sauna can reduce blood pressure, increase vascular compliance, and also increase heart rates similar to a medium-intensity workout. 

Image credit: Unsplash/HUUM

The same research group previously published their findings in the Journal of Human Hypertension, highlighting a population-based study indicating that regular sauna use is associated with a reduced risk of coronary diseases, sudden cardiac death, hypertension, Alzheimer's disease, and dementia. Frequent sauna use has also been associated with a reduced risk of respiratory diseases and lower CRP levels.

Understanding the basic science behind sauna bathing can help those hesitant to try it out. While most people would find a sauna to simply relax, to get away, or for meditative reasons, it's clear that saunas should be promoted more frequently as a good health choice.

So what are you waiting for? Get in there! 

If you are located in Paris, here is a recommendation for you to start with! 

Sauna in Paris