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The Amazing Benefits of Saunas

By Kate Gardner

Which do you like better, the hot tub or the sauna? I'm more of a hot tub person, myself. I find it hard to resist sitting in a spacious, bubbly bathtub. What could a sauna possibly offer that's better than that? As it turns out, a whole lot! According to, visiting saunas is a favorite pastime in Scandinavia because of its purported health benefits and research is starting to support these claims. 

Health Benefits of Visiting a Sauna

When you use a sauna, it may seem like all you're doing is sitting quietly in a really hot, dry room. How could that possibly make you healthier? It seems that the dry heat in saunas gives your heart a bit of a workout. You sweat, your pulse goes up, and your heart reacts as it would to low to moderate intensity exercise -- all while you relax! 

In one 14-year study, using a sauna two to three times per week was linked to a 25 percent reduction in cardiovascular death. For people who went more often (four to seven times per week), that reduction went up to 77 percent! Saunas have also been linked to lowered blood pressure and protection against cognitive disorders. A study published in Age and Aging linked going to the sauna two to three times per week with a decrease in the incidence of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Sauna usage may increase endorphins, thus putting you in a better mood, as well!

How to Get the Benefits of Sauna 

In order to benefit from your sauna visits, try going at least three times per week for five to 20 minutes at a time. Some people also recommend following up your sauna time with a dip in some (really) cold water, though there isn't any research to support this. I imagine it really wakes you up after all that relaxing!

When Not to Use the Sauna 

As wonderful as all these benefits sound, using the sauna is not for everyone. There are certain heart conditions, like unstable angina, that means you should sit this one out. Additionally, doctors have long said that pregnant women should not use saunas (though some research is challenging that stance). And never use a sauna when you've been drinking alcohol. If you'd like to start using the sauna as part of your health regimen but are concerned about any risks, talk to a healthcare provider. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Maple Grove, Minn.

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