Sauna Health Benefits

Lately I have been more and more interested in the health benefits of sauna, I have listened to many experts talk about this, in particular Dr Rhonda Patrick and Dr Andrew Huberman who have covered this extensively on their podcasts and websites.


The below information has been taken from the extensive article written by Dr Rhonda Patrick, I will post the link to this article below if you are interested in the full information.


I myself, have been taking the advice and have been sauna bathing 5 times per week for 20 minutes at a time, followed by cold exposure for 3 to 5 minutes after the sauna. I will post more about the cold exposure in another blog.


Sauna use, sometimes referred to as "sauna bathing," is characterized by short-term passive exposure to extreme heat. This exposure elicits mild hyperthermia – an increase in the body's core temperature – that induces a thermoregulatory response involving neuroendocrine, cardiovascular, and cytoprotective mechanisms that work together to restore homeostasis and condition the body for future heat stressors.


In recent decades, sauna bathing has emerged as a means to increase lifespan and improve overall health, based on compelling data from observational, interventional, and mechanistic studies.


Studies that found a dose-dependent reduction in cardiovascular-related mortality, all-cause mortality, and Alzheimer's disease incidence typically involved saunas that were heated to a temperature of at least 78.9°C (174°F) for at least 20 minutes. In fact, these studies found that the amount of time spent in the sauna also affected cardiovascular-related mortalities, with a longer duration of 19 minutes or more having a more robust effect than 11 to 18 minutes on lowering mortality rate.


Exposure to high temperature stresses the body, eliciting a rapid, robust response. The skin and core body temperatures increase markedly, and sweating ensues. The skin heats first, rising to 40°C, and then changes in core body temperature occur, rising slowly from 37°C to 38°C and then rapidly increasing to 39°C.


Cardiac output, a measure of the amount of work the heart performs in response to the body's need for oxygen, increases by 60 to 70 percent, while the heart rate (the number of beats per minute) increases and the stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped) remains unchanged.


During this time, approximately 50 to 70 percent of the body's blood flow is redistributed from the core to the skin to facilitate sweating. The average person loses approximately 0.5 kg of sweat while sauna bathing.


Acute heat exposure also induces a transient increase in overall plasma volume to mitigate the decrease in core blood volume. This increase in plasma volume not only provides a reserve source of fluid for sweating, but it also acts like the water in a car's radiator, cooling the body to prevent rapid increases in core body temperature and promoting heat tolerance.


Repeated sauna use acclimates the body to heat and optimizes the body's response to future exposures, likely due to a biological phenomenon known as hormesis, a compensatory defense response following exposure to a mild stressor that is disproportionate to the magnitude of the stressor. Hormesis triggers a vast array of protective mechanisms that not only repair cell damage but also provide protection from subsequent exposures to more devastating stressors.


The physiological responses to sauna use are remarkably similar to those experienced during moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise. In fact, sauna use has been proposed as an alternative to exercise for people who are unable to engage in physical activity due to chronic disease or physical limitations.


There huge benefits associated with sauna use, below are some of the benefits covered by Dr Rhonda Patrick in her extensive article, if you would like to know about the below, head over to this article: https://www.foundmyfitness.com/topics/sauna


  • Cardiovascular health

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Congestive heart failure

  • Ischemic heart disease

  • Peripheral artery disease

  • Dyslipidemia

  • Hypertension

  • Endothelial dysfunction

  • Left ventricular dysfunction

  • Inflammation

  • Enhanced neurogenesis

  • Cognitive decline

  • Depression

  • Mental focus and attention span

  • Growth hormone

  • Insulin and glucose

  • Increased endurance

  • Heat acclimation

  • Muscle mass maintenance

  • Heavy metals

  • Bisphenol A

  • Polychlorinated biphenyls

  • Phthalate compounds

There are also some concerns and best practices when using the sauna, once again covered by Dr Rhonda Patrick in her extensive article, if you would like to know about the below, head over to this article: https://www.foundmyfitness.com/topics/sauna


  • Male fertility

  • Pregnant women

  • Children

  • People who are ill or taking medications

  • Hydration and electrolytes


Conclusion


Sauna is associated with many health benefits, from cardiovascular and mental health to fertility and athletic endurance. It is generally considered safe for healthy adults and may be safe for special populations with appropriate medical supervision. Heat stress via sauna use elicits hormetic responses driven by molecular mechanisms that protect the body from damage, similar to those elicited by moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise, and may offer a means to forestall the effects of aging.