Sweating It Out: The Health Benefits of Saunas

August 10, 2018
Amanda Carrozza

Amanda Carrozza is a freelance writer and editor in New Jersey.

August is National Wellness Month—and the perfect opportunity to explore activities that boost physical and mental well-being.

It’s important for all of us to carve out time to improve our personal well-being. And although mental health is finally getting the attention it deserves in the veterinary profession, it’s up to individuals to make time to focus on relieving stress, engaging in hobbies, and establishing a healthier lifestyle.

If you haven’t yet pinpointed exactly what it is that will help you reduce stress and boost your immune system, you may be interested in new research that highlights the benefits of using a sauna.

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Investigators from Finland and the United Kingdom recently reviewed 70 studies related to sauna use and found that regular users reported feelings of relaxation and promotion of mental health. The full study, available through Mayo Clinic Proceedings, focused specifically on Finnish saunas, which are dry and characterized by temperatures from 80°C to 100°C.

Through their analysis, the investigators found that the physiologic responses produced by an ordinary sauna bath correspond to those produced by moderate- or high-intensity physical activity. In fact, some of the reported studies suggested that physical activity paired with a sauna session might be better than either activity alone.

“Emerging evidence suggests that beyond its use for pleasure, sauna bathing may be linked to several health benefits,” the authors wrote. These benefits “include a reduction in the risk of vascular diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and neurocognitive diseases; nonvascular conditions such as pulmonary diseases; mortality; as well as amelioration of conditions such as arthritis, headache, and flu.”