When it comes to improving your health, some of the simplest strategies can have a tremendous impact.
Sweating in a sauna, for example, has many great health benefits, including expelling of toxins, improving blood circulation, killing disease-causing microbes and improving mitochondrial function.
The Key word here is sweating. Just because you are in the sauna doesn’t mean you get the benefits. The sauna has to heat your core temperature up a few degrees, your heart rate needs to increase and you need to have a river of sweat, otherwise you simply will not get these benefits. This is important as many infrared saunas fail to heat you sufficiently to achieve these benefits.
Research has even shown that regular sauna use correlates with a reduced risk of death from any cause, including lethal cardiovascular events, and may help stave off Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Another long-term study by the same Finnish research team, published in JAMA Internal Medicine in Y 2015, revealed that men who used the Finnish-style, dry heat sauna seven times per week also cut their risk of death from fatal heart problems in half, compared to those who used it only once a week.
This held true even after confounding factors such as smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels were factored in. In regard to time, the greatest benefits were found among those who sweated it out for 19 mins or more each session.
Both the duration and the frequency had dose dependent effects, so the longer the exposure time of each session and the more frequent the sessions, the better the outcome.
One mechanism for this effect is thought to be related to the fact that heat stresses your heart and body similar to that of exercise, thus prompting similar effects. This includes increased blood flow to your heart and muscles, which increases athletic endurance and increased muscle mass due to greater levels of heat-shock proteins and human growth hormone (HGH).
In the video lecture above, Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D., reviews how sauna bathing can be used as an exercise mimetic i.e., an exercise-mimicking tool, to increase your longevity and health span.
As noted by Dr. Patrick:
“Several studies have shown that frequent sauna bathing (4-7 times per week, 174°F for 20 min.) is associated with a 50% lower risk for fatal heart disease, 60% lower risk for sudden cardiac death, 51% lower risk for stroke, and 46% lower risk for hypertension.
Just a single sauna session has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve heart rate variability, and improve arterial compliance. Some of the positive benefits of the sauna on heart health may have to do with similar physiological changes that also occur during physical exercise.
For example, there is a 50-70% redistribution of blood flow away from the core to the skin to facilitate sweating. You start to sweat. Heart rate increases up to 150 beats per minute which correspond to moderate-intensity physical exercise.
Cardiac output (which is a measure of the amount of work the heart performs in response to the body’s need for oxygen) increases by 60-70%. Immediately after sauna use, blood pressure and resting heart rate are lower than baseline similar to physical activity.”
A Sauna Can Be a Great Health Investment
As you can see, sauna bathing can go a long way toward improving your health and increasing your lifespan. Here, we have focused primarily on heart and cardiovascular health, but there are many other health benefits as well, including improved mood, pain reduction, increased metabolism, detoxification, skin rejuvenation, stress reduction and immune support, just to name a few.
To learn more, listen to Dr. Patrick’s lecture.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively