Saunas are not only good for helping you to relax. They could also help you live longer.
Researchers in Finland studied the effect of saunas on more than 2,300 men over a 20-year period. They found that men who used saunas four to seven times per week lived longer than men who only used saunas once a week.
The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, also found that frequent sauna users had:
A 63% lower risk of sudden cardiac death
A 50% lower risk of cardiovascular disease
A 40% overall lower death rate
These remarkable numbers have to do with the fact that sitting in a sauna may have the same effect on the body as aerobic exercise.
You see, performing aerobic exercise raises your body’s core temperature. This induces strain on the body, decreases endurance and accelerates exhaustion.
By itself, you don’t want your body’s temperature to be higher than normal for an extended period of time like when you have a fever.
But during exercise, when your body’s core temperature is raised, the body goes through a natural process called hyperthermic conditioning, or heat adaptation.
Basically, the body is in an abnormal state and will make any changes necessary to survive at this new temperature.
This process optimizes your body for next time you exercise (and raise your body temperature), so the body is put through less metabolic stress.
The more exercise you perform means the better heat-adapted you are.
As the body adapts to functioning at a higher temperature, it makes several changes that can have many lasting benefits — even when the body returns to normal temperature …
According to Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D. of FoundMyFitness.com, these include:
Improved cardiovascular mechanisms and lower heart rate.
Lower core body temperature during workload
Higher sweat rate and sweat sensitivity as a function of increased thermoregulatory control.
Increased blood flow to skeletal muscle (known as muscle perfusion) and other tissues.
Reduced rate of glycogen depletion due to improved muscle perfusion.
Increased red blood cell count
Increased efficiency of oxygen transport to muscles.
This is why exercise is so important to your health and longevity.
And research now shows that sauna use causes the body to go through this same heat adaptation. It causes the body to go through these same physiological adaptions that benefit the body longer term.
Essentially, 30 minutes of relaxing sauna time may have the same cardiovascular and metabolic effects of intense aerobic exercise.
This can help explain the incredible numbers the Finland study found.
In addition to improving the body’s cardiovascular system, heat stress via sauna use has been shown to …
Increase growth hormone
Reduce protein degradation
Increase brain-derived neurotrophic factors, crucial for brain health.
Sauna use can be one of the easiest and most effective ways improve your health and longevity. Plus, many people find it incredibly relaxing and therapeutic.
You may have wellness centers in your neighborhood that have saunas. Many hotel spas and gyms offer saunas as well. You can also buy them for your home.
If you’re interested in trying it out, be sure to speak with the staff or other experts to make sure you spend just the right amount of time in the sauna so you don’t get overheated, which would counteract the benefits.
Generally, you might look to spend 15 to 30 minutes in a sauna, depending on a variety of factors like the temperature and your endurance. And be sure to drink plenty of water if this is something you’re interested in trying.
We’re interested to know how many of our readers already use a sauna and if any of you will now be using them more often. Please feel free to join the discussion in the comments below.
Happy and healthy investing,
Uncommon Wisdom Daily
Your thoughts on “A Half-Hour of Sauna Time Offers Similar Benefits to Exercise”
- Almost Heaven’s Heavenly Saunas
This is a good article, but it neglects to point out that the study to which they are referring was done in a genuine Scandinavian style sauna. FIR “saunas” can’t claim the same health benefits, as they aren’t really saunas. They don’t provide even close to the same environment, and will never provide the same boost to your well being.
Another caution, since I’ve seen it mentioned in the comments, is that a sauna (of any kind) won’t really do anything in the way of weight loss or detoxification.
Any weight lost in a sauna is water weight. You don’t sweat out fat. The perceived weight loss will come right back as soon as you rehydrate yourself. Failure to do so can lead to dangerous dehydration.
As far as detoxification goes, you do most of your detoxification through your liver and kidneys. In a sauna you may clean out your pores of any junk and debris that is physically stuck in them, but that’s it. You’re really not doing much in the way of detoxification as far as sweating is concerned.
We’ve been selling genuine saunas for decades. If any of the claims about weight loss or detoxification were true we’d be the first ones to jump on the bandwagon. Unfortunately they’re just not true, and they’re used by unscrupulous salesmen, especially when they’re trying to sell an infrared “enclosure”, to dupe the public out of their hard earned money.
- Rudy Lucero
For the past 23 years, I am taking anti hypertensive drugs like Amlodiphine, Lisinopril, Metropolol, Hydrochlorothiazide and Aspirin 81 mg. but on average my BP remained high at 150/85. Last May 2015 I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and my doctor prescribed once daily Januvia plus diet and exercise. Since then I do 25 minutes of treadmill, 10 minutes weights and 10 minutes steam bath everyday. Since one month ago, my BP normalized to average of 118/68, my diabetes became normal from 8 to 5.8 and lost about 18 pounds from 212 down to 194 lbs. I don’t know if my progress is due to steam bath, diet, exercise or medication, but I am surely motivated to continue what I am doing. Instead of coffee I drink 1 cup cinnamon in the morning. I am 78 years old. Try it and share if you get positive results.
- A Finn
Most of this article is just rubbish and the advice on how to take a sauna has nothing to do with how it is actually done and how the Finnish men in the research do it. You are not supposed to time yourself for one thing! Also there are hardly any proper saunas in USA, anyway, so it doesn’t really matter. It has nothing to do with “detoxing”, either.
I will be
using the sauna at my gym from now on at 15 minutes at a time. I am
pre-diabetic and helping my insulin resistance is enough inducement for me.
I live in a bloody sauna…..it’s called Kuala Lumpur!
I have a sauna and find that when I use it, it clears toxins from the body just as Dean describes. In fact I occasionally must work with some harsh chemicals such as lacquer thinner and acetone. When I hop in the sauna withing a day or two of doing so I can actually smell this stuff coming out in my sweat. What Dean says about drinking lots of liquid while saunaing is very important because otherwise one can become dehydrated. Salt, potassium, mineral tablets and extra vitamins can also be a good idea depending on how long you stay in there because all that good stuff gets sweated out along with the bad stuff.
A factual article by Brad but I would encourage people to google the benefits of infrared saunas and you will find many outstanding articles based on research done primarily in Japan and China. The benefits are derived because this technology stimulates deeper tissues in the body tan other saunas.
For those sensitive to steam heat but want the benefit of a sauna, try Near Infrared Sauna treatments. Yes, NEAR Infrared saunas. Dr. Lawrence Wilson, MD discusses the benefits of Near Infrared saunas vs Far Infrared & steam saunas. If you search “Dr. L Wilson, MD, Near Infrared Saunas”, you’ll find a wealth of information.
- Eddie Gorniak Jr
difference between steam saunas and infra saunas?
Which is better?
What are the differences between dry, steam, far infrared, near infrared in terms of health effects?
Since this article focuses on the heat does this count for the use of jacuzzis as well?
I use the sauna four to five times per week. It’s amazing!
- Chuck Jones
This sounds too easy to be true. I have heard that the steam is bad for lungs. I don’t know if that is fact either.
I have and use a sauna. I’m not a medico, but I think you missed one of the most important benefits – and that is the offloading of toxins and waste through the sweat glands. Exercise offloads junk in the body as a matter of course via the lymph system. A sauna can aid with this poison eradication as well, although my experience has been that accumulated garbage breaks loose more readily with impact and motion. Once every 3 or 4 years I’ll get a flu that doesn’t want to go away. The sauna takes care of it – but in these cases, I’ll spend 5 or 6 hours with short breaks and plenty of fluids – flu goes.
What health-effect differences are there between regular saunas (dry and steam), far infrared and near infrared saunas?
I have a
portable sauna at home. My husband and I have been using it since last Winter.
It helps takes off the bone-chilling effect of the Northeast winter. It makes Winter more enjoyable. It relaxes and help to get a good night sleep. Hence, we’re in a better mood most of the day!
This article confirms my appreciation for saunas.
- Kari Laakso
I go to an ordinary wet Finnish Sauna having a temperature of ca. 80 centigrades twice a week in our house or nearby swimming hall. And I go to my own “dry” infrared sauna having a temperature of about 65 centigrades every second evening before going to sleep. This relaxes me well for a better sleep and reduces the different rather tolerable muscular inflammations which I suffer from in the age of retirement.
What is Suanas? Can you please explain in details to me and how can I get one and for how much? Thanks
does this work for hot baths and / or hot tubes ? And at what temp ?
- Dr. Alexander Schuster
for a great article on the health benefits of saunas! Another mechanism how
saunas likely lead to the stated health benefits is through detoxification –
especially when using far-infrared saunas (FIR). FIR saunas are safer for
people with heart conditions, and still allow for the removal of toxins via the
Because saunas’ health benefits are partially due to their detoxifying effects, it is important to choose a sauna made out of “clean” wood. Most saunas sold in the US are made out of wood coming from overseas (mostly China), and any imported wood has to be fumigated with toxins. When heated, this wood will release toxins, which is counter-productive. So, it may be best to find a sauna made in the US or Canada. Also, look for a sauna that is screwed together, rather than glued together – for the same reason.
I just moved from Florida to Kentucky, and made my wife promise that we would get a sauna (especially for the winter)… I did my research, and the one I am considering comes from http://www.heavenlyheatsaunas.com/. I have no financial ties or other reasons to recommend this company besides their quality.
Brad good article. Did the study mention steam rooms as having similar results ?
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