When discussing health splurges, Sauna often comes first in mind. While many people opt for a hot sauna because it is relaxing, sauna provides numerous health benefits to your body.

Sauna is arguably one of the oldest relaxation methods in history. It has been used as sweat houses for religious purposes since 3,000 years ago by the Mayans of Central America. Finnish people had regularly used it for thousands of years before it finally became popular.

What Exactly is Sauna?

Sauna refers to a heated room with a temperature ranging from 70 to 100 degree Celsius or 158 to 210 degree Fahrenheit.

In Finland alone, saunas typically use dry heat, while in other countries, saunas are often high in moisture. There are several types of saunas that are popular in the world today. The most common are:

  • Wood burning sauna – This type of traditional sauna uses wood as the heating instrument that is burned upon sauna rocks. Wood burning sauna is low in humidity with adjustable temperature control.
  • Infrared room – The most modern type of sauna room does not heat the whole room. Instead, infrared room uses radiant heat of light waves that shoot straight to the person’s body.
  • Electrically heated sauna – Has a similar process of heating to the wood-burning sauna. While wood-burning sauna relies on woods and rocks, this type of sauna relies on electric heaters that are installed on the walls or floors for efficiency. Electrically heated sauna remains the most popular sauna type today.
  • Smoke sauna – One of the rarest types of sauna that are still used today. The smoke sauna uses a big wood-burning stove that consists of pounds of rocks. The flame that originates from wood burning will then heat the rock mass and sends the smoke through the stones to the sauna room.

How Does Hot Sauna Benefits The Body?

Stress reliever

Sauna is known to be a natural stress reliever. The sauna heat does not only relax the muscle and improve blood circulation, but it also stimulates endorphin release. Additionally, sauna heat also reduces the body’s level of cortisol, the primary stress hormone in the body.

Improve mental health

The heat from the sauna helps boost the Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a brain protein that can help lower mental diseases such as depression and improve the mood. The BDNF repairs the brain cells and increases the growth of new and refreshed brain cells.

A person who struggles from any mental illnesses is likely to have reduced levels of BDNF. A sauna can come in handy to help boost the protein.

Lowers cholesterol

Typically, to achieve lower cholesterol levels, we have to engage in physical exercises routinely. However, a hot sauna can be utilised to keep cholesterol levels under control.

In a 2014 experiment from the *International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, going for sauna means getting “regular heat exposure that stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and provides psychological effects that resemble those we get from physical exercises.”

However, one still cannot abandon regular workout routine as it still provides other health benefits that are not achieved only by going to a sauna.

A faster weight loss method

Going to a sauna can be a great supplement to lose weight as the heat burns calories. In a regular session of 15 minutes hot sauna, you can burn up to 300 calories. That said, if you aim to lose weight, you still have to do other exercise and keep your diet healthy as sauna cannot be considered as one-stop weight loss method.

Improved cardiovascular performance

When a person enters a heated sauna room, sweating begins immediately. Most people hardly recognise this because it evaporates so quickly. Skin temperature rises quickly while the internal body temperature increases slower.

The heart responses to the heat by increasing the blood pump rate 30% or equals to twice the amount of blood pumped each minute. Therefore, blood pressure may rise or fall but quickly returns after the person cools down. The improved pump rate also improves vascular function with mildly damaged hearts.

Nowadays, going to a sauna can be made anywhere and used anytime. If you are short on space and budget, a portable sauna may help you to improve your health. Bear in mind that a person with cardiovascular abnormalities should consult to their health care provider first before going to a sauna. For more information about the benefits of the hot sauna to your body, visit Okadoc and consult with your healthcare provider online.