Think sweating is gross? Well, it’s also an effective way to detox your body AND your mind. In fact, the health benefits of sweating go beyond the body – through improving cognitive functioning, decreasing stress hormones, and even boosting endorphins.
Perhaps the best way to maximize your body’s sweat potential is by using a sauna. A Finnish proverb says, “The sauna is Finland’s medication… and a poor person’s apothecary.” Having originated in Finland, saunas have been used for over 2,000 years. They have now become a widespread means of promoting relaxation in a stress-free environment.
The Benefits of Saunas
Saunas have a variety of health benefits, including:
Enhancing the detoxification process – Sweating in a sauna is one of the simplest strategies at releasing environment toxins and chemicals that build up over the time of one’s lifespan. For example, sweating in a sauna can be the most powerful aid in helping the body release heavy metal toxins (e.g. mercury and cadmium), urea, bisphenol-A and phthalates. In fact, some heavy metals oftentimes come out in higher concentrations in sweat than other excretion pathways like urine or feces.
- Boosting brain health – Saunas may improve brain function by lowering inflammation and blood pressure, thereby improving vascular function and enhancing feelings of relaxation. In fact, research has even shown a link between heat exposure and BDNF – a protein that stimulates and controls the growth of new neurons in the brain. Saunas have also been shown to cause a massive release of beta-endorphins in the brain, helping the body and mind to adapt to stress, subsequently reducing the risk of depression and other mental disorders. In one study, men who sat in a sauna multiple times per week had a 65% lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than those who used them only once a week.
- Improving Chronic Pain – In addition to deeply heating your tissues, saunas also promote changes in the body that lead to profound improvements in chronic pain. Saunas have been linked to an improvement in pain and symptoms associated with musculoskeletal disorders like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. One study showed that 44 patients with fibromyalgia showed a reduction in pain between 33% and 77% after the use of an infrared-ray dry sauna.
- Strengthening the lymphatic system and boost longevity – Given that saunas reduce inflammation and improve circulation, by default they help to strengthen your body’s lymphatic system (which plays an integral role in the immune functions of the body, as it is the first line of defense against disease). Research also shows that you can boost your human growth hormone levels (a biochemical that addresses muscle loss and atrophy that occur with age) two-fold by taking two 20-minute sauna sessions (at 176 degrees F) separated by a 30 minute cooling period.
As someone who enjoys reaping the health benefits of saunas, I personally have attempted to make a 15-20 minute sauna session at the gym part of my workout routine. However, my appreciation for saunas truly soared when I purchased a sauna from Relax Sauna. It’s a powerful, portable, and budget-friendly sauna that has lived up to my expectations. If you use the code WELLNSTRONG, you can get 15% off your purchase. If you don’t have the space for one, another great option is an infrared sauna blanket. I have a zero EMF one from Sun Home Saunas and love it (you can also use the code wellnstrong for $75 off your purchase). I encourage you to check them out!