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The Lowdown on Saunas

By Paul Rothbart

The word sauna may conjure an image of a group of Scandinavians dashing from a steam-filled room to roll in the snow. Or perhaps a group of older businessmen wrapped in towels while sweating profusely. Using heat as therapy is a practice that dates to ancient times. Medical science has proven the health benefits of saunas. There are three basic types, wet, dry, and the modern infrared. Here are some facts to consider before trying out a sauna.

What They Do to the Body

The high heat of a sauna naturally induces sweating. In a wet sauna, the humidity is also high so the sweat does not evaporate. The pores of the skin open up as do the blood vessels, increasing circulation. The heart rate may rise to 100 to 150 beats per minute, similar to that of vigorous exercise. The release of growth hormone can increase by as much as 300 percent. Endorphins are also released, bringing a feeling of calm and relaxation.  

Health Benefits

Saunas affect quite a change in the body. This state has many benefits to overall health. First, with the increase in circulation, regular sauna use can lower blood pressure. The relaxation experienced also contributes to lower pressure. Saunas are also very good for heart health. A study conducted in 2018 discovered that using a sauna 4-7 times per week reduced the risk of heart disease by as much as 50 percent. Regular sauna use can also stimulate the creation of new brain cells and aid in the formation of new neural pathways. The endorphins produced are a boost to mental health. Saunas allow the body to sweat out any toxic metals that may have been accumulated. Athletic performance has been shown to benefit from taking sauna baths. The increase in blood flow helps muscle build and recover faster. When the heart receives more blood, oxygen gets to the cells faster, increasing endurance. 

People Who Should Avoid Saunas

While most people can handle the heat of a sauna, there are some who should not use them. People with low blood pressure or heart conditions may not be able to handle the extreme heat. It may cause fainting or more serious problems. Likewise, a sauna bath is not a good idea for pregnant women. If you have any doubts, consult a medical expert. 

Heat therapy is tested by time and medical science. There are many health benefits for those who can take the heat. It is certainly at least worth a try. As my people say, "Take a schvitz." 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Lawrenceville, Ga.

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