Winters are cold in Wisconsin, which is where I’m from. You won’t break a sweat easily outdoors, even if you’re wearing lots of layers. It would be a shame to go the whole winter without breaking into a good sweat in a nice warm sauna. Why? Sweating is good for you inside and out. There are massive benefits that you don’t want to miss out on and that make it worth sweating in the sauna. Let’s talk about some of my favorite perks and I bet you’ll agree the benefits of sauna are worth the sweat.
1. Sweating is Great for Skin and Helps You Age Well
I didn’t say reverse aging. It won’t reverse aging because, well, you are already older than when you started reading this article, but a sauna will help you age well. Your skin is your largest organ and you need to take care of it. The heat from a sauna will increase your blood circulation, heart rate, and induce vasodilation. This gets blood out to your skin keeping it looking young and vibrant. Some studies even show infrared sauna sessions minimize the appearance of cellulite. Sauna is also great for acne as it opens up those pores and pushes out all the dirt and debris that get caught up in there. If you want good skin get a good sweat.
2. Sauna Supports Your Detox
Sauna is great for supporting your detox with a good sweat session. Sweating is one of the ways toxins can exit your body. No matter how you get sweating your body is detoxing. A sauna makes that happen easier. Being in the sauna gets blood circulating, which is important for the lymphatic system. With an infrared sauna the heat gets deep into the tissue helping the body to remove toxins.
3. Sauna Keeps Microbes in Check
One of the greatest sauna benefits are the microbial changes that can be amazing for your body. Yeasts, bacteria, and viruses are very sensitive to high heat. That’s why when you are sick you will get a fever. Your body is trying to get rid of those pathogens. If I know I’ve been sniffle-y kids or exposed to an illness while traveling, I hop in that sauna and crank the heat up to 150 degrees to kill those little buggers.
4. Cardiovascular Health
One of the most studied benefits of the sauna are how it’s great for heart health. The sauna gets your heart rate up, increases blood circulation, and boosts your immune function. A sauna affects the body just like a cardiovascular workout. It gets things moving. Studies have shown it normalizes blood pressure, reduces arterial stiffness, and has beneficial effects on some blood markers. (1)
5. Reduce Mental Stress with Sauna
I have heard a lot of anecdotal evidence of how saunas reduce mental stress, especially from women. Stress is such a high factor in what makes us sick so if there is anything that can help reduce your stress you should be doing it. One study took 2 groups of people with major depression and gave one a sauna treatment. The other received a “sham” treatment, which was the same conditions as the first group minus the heat. The sauna treatment reduced depression by 50% over the sham treatment and the effects of just one treatment were evident 6 weeks later. (2)
6. Helps with Sleep
Now this sauna benefit is my opinion and it’s one I love. I don’t know if anyone has done a good study on sauna and sleep. Someone should! I volunteer to be a test subject. It does a tremendous job of helping me sleep. It might be because of the heat and the time to relax but I sleep like a baby after a sauna. That’s why I like to sauna at night.
My Favorite Way to Sauna is Infrared
Sweating has massive benefits no matter how you do it. If you steam up the bathroom, exercise, or go to the sauna or steam room at your local YMCA you are still getting a sweat going. It’s even great to sweat when you’re exercising. It’s great for detoxing, great for lymphatics and great for the skin. Don’t think just because you don’t have a specific kind of sauna you have to miss out.
My favorite way to sweat is the infrared sauna that uses both near and far infrared sauna. These go deeper into the skin and heat you up from the cellular level, which heats you up faster. This makes it easier to tolerate the high heat for a longer time. Infrared saunas are popping up in lots of places so you can probably get a session near you. But even if you don’t have an infrared sauna, or access to one, you can get the benefits no matter how you sweat.
Enjoy the Benefits of Sauna in Winter and Year-round
The nice thing about sauna in Wisconsin winters is I can jump from one very hot extreme right into the other in the snow. The body does great in extremes, especially when you go from high to low temperatures. It has amazing health benefit of inducing shock proteins and is great for your thyroid. Don’t worry if you don’t have cold weather, you can also jump in a cold pool to get to that extreme.
Sauna has benefits year-round so go ahead enjoy the relaxing sauna. Sweat out all the bad stuff and soak in all the benefits.
Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn