There is a select number of countries in the world where sauna bathing and wellness are an essential part of their cultural identity and habits. Immersing yourself in a hot bath or relaxing inside a heated structure has immense advantages for your health and well-being. Awareness of the different health benefits of sauna bathing is spreading around the world. As a result, the practice is becoming more and more popular. During the last decade, there has been a considerable amount of study and data on the different health benefits of sauna bathing from various countries. The health benefits mentioned in this posting are based on research on Finnish sauna. This is because it is the most extensively studied heat treatment.

The sauna is a poor man’s pharmacy

an old finnish saying

Well-being for the mind and memory

There is nothing quite like sauna bathing to make you feel relaxed and at ease. Relaxing in the heat provides an escape from the worries and stresses of everyday life. When taking a sauna the body releases the pleasure hormone Beta-Endorphin into the system. Pleasure hormones support the healing of the body and relieve stress. These factors can be a benefactor behind many health benefits of sauna bathing.

Taking a sauna boosts the function of the blood- and circulatory systems which are essential in sustaining the functions of the brain. This might be the answer to sauna bathing’s protective influence on the mind. Taking a sauna regularly reduces the risk of getting Apoplexy, Alzheimers or Dementia. It is not yet fully clear whether this is due to a physical influence. It is also possible that the positive effects of enjoyable activity in life, prevent the development of memory illness.

In addition, BDNF or Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor increases the growth of new brain cells and is vital for memory recollection. Exposure to high temperature combined with exercise has been shown to increase BDNF and thus support learning.

Positive effects for the heart and blood pressure

Sauna affects the heart the same as low- to mid-intensity training. It raises the heart rate to up to 150 beats per minute. Treating yourself to heat also increases blood circulation and lowers blood pressure.

Sauna and skin

According to research, those who regularly sauna bathe have lower pH levels in the skin, resulting in a stronger skin barrier. A stronger skin barrier protects the skin from drying. The heat activates the skin and increases circulation which for most has a positive effect. The intense heat moisturizes dry and atopic skin because water from lower levels of the skin rises up. Sweating opens up the pores and cleanses the skin thoroughly.

a woman enjoying the sauna and swim in Southern-Finland

After the sauna, the skin is very receptive. In order to take full advantage of the effects of sauna bathing on the skin, it is a good idea to put on a face mask and then moisturize.

For those who have rosacea or couperosa skin and want to use the sauna, it is better to be careful with the heat. Especially very hot steam can worsen the condition so it’s better to take very soft steam at a not-too-high temperature.

Sauna boosts the immune system and wellbeing

Research led by Jari Laukkanen PhD from the University of Eastern Finland concluded that people who enjoy a sauna regularly actually have lower inflammatory values and suffer less flu-like symptoms. The research specified that those to enjoy the greatest benefits enjoy the heat 4-7 times per week.

Sauna is also known to improve the quality of sleep. A good night’s sleep is essential for our physical and mental well-being as well as naturally boosting the immune system. The positive effect on our sleep is at least partially due to the heat relieving tension and muscle pains in the body. As the heat relieves tensions in the body, it can also help to prevent headaches and pains.