The latest trend making waves on social media platforms like TikTok suggests that spending just 20 minutes in a sauna each week can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. This sauna trend has caught the attention of renowned figures such as Zac Efron, Kim Kardashian, and Lady Gaga, who are all reportedly enthusiastic advocates.
While it may seem effortless for celebrities to endorse the wellness benefits of such a luxurious amenity, let’s delve into the scientific foundation behind this popular trend. Do saunas truly offer tangible health advantages, or are the rumors about their rejuvenating powers merely adding to the hype?
According to Dr. Mike Hoaglin, the medical director at Dr House, saunas are not just a passing online fad. He explains that saunas are part of a broader concept known as whole-body thermotherapy, which has been recognized as a traditional therapy in various cultures worldwide for a long time. In essence, the benefits of dry heat exposure are not only real but have been acknowledged and appreciated long before TikTok trends began emphasizing them.
What exactly are the benefits of sauna sessions?
Dr. Hoaglin highlights that traditional saunas expose the body to temperatures ranging from 80°C to 100°C, with humidity levels between 10-20%. These sessions should ideally last between 5 to 20 minutes. Modern infrared saunas, on the other hand, operate at temperatures of 45-60°C.
While most research focuses on traditional saunas, the commonly mentioned benefit revolves around “detoxification.” This implies the belief that you can “sweat out” toxins after a night of indulgence or a prolonged period of unhealthy eating. While this is relevant, Dr. Hoaglin believes that the true advantages of a sauna lie in its ability to enhance “hormesis,” which refers to the body’s capacity to handle short-term stresses, such as exercise. Exposure to heat and reduced oxygen levels in a sauna can stimulate this process, aiding in recovery and boosting overall fitness. Saunas also assist in repairing the structural proteins in our bodies that may become damaged with age. In simpler terms, saunas provide a heated solution to help our bodies combat the daily stresses that contribute to wear and tear. Furthermore, studies suggest that regular sauna exposure can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, improve mental health, and alleviate chronic respiratory conditions.
When is the optimal time for a sauna session?
While much has been said about the health benefits of a hot bath similar to those of a sauna, it’s worth noting that the timing of sauna usage, just like bath time, is a matter of personal preference and individual goals. Some individuals prefer using heat to warm up before a workout, enhancing circulation and loosening muscles. Others appreciate the natural healing processes activated by heat to aid in recovery.
However, it’s worth mentioning that infrared light is believed to increase melatonin production and promote better sleep. Therefore, if you have an infrared sauna, a session before bed may provide additional benefits, while a pre-workout session might leave you feeling drowsy.
Is it possible to overdo sauna sessions?
As with anything else, there are risks associated with excessive heat exposure. Even if you’re an athlete trying to cut weight for a weigh-in, you need to be cautious of dehydration in the sauna. Misuse can have serious consequences, as warned by Dr. Hoaglin. He emphasizes the importance of starting slowly and not exceeding 5-10 minutes initially. Individuals with low blood pressure should be careful as there is an increased risk of fainting spells.
What's the ideal duration of exposure?
If you’re fortunate enough to have access to sauna facilities at your gym, you might feel like you’ve hit the jackpot. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Firstly, Dr. Hoaglin suggests that the optimal number of sauna sessions per week should fall between one to three sessions, or up to 12 sessions per month.
In other words, consistency is key, and TikTok estimates might underestimate the required frequency.
Secondly, using the sauna shouldn’t be an excuse to skip your workout and head straight for the wooden bench. Consider your sauna session as a post-workout treat.
Discover the Perfect Sauna for You
Incorporating regular sauna sessions into your fitness routine can have remarkable benefits for both your physical and mental well-being. Saunas have long been celebrated for their ability to enhance recovery, boost cardiovascular health, and promote overall fitness. If you’re intrigued by the idea of integrating saunas into your lifestyle, Water By Design is your trusted destination. Explore our range of saunas tailored to your specific needs by visiting this page. Take the first step towards a rejuvenating sauna experience and embark on a transformative fitness journey. Your ideal sauna awaits!