What are the health benefits of saunas?


What is a sauna and how does it work? A sauna is a small room that is heated to very high temperatures. In the traditional Finnish sauna, temperatures can reach up to 90 degrees Celsius. The heat causes intense sweating, which helps to cleanse the body of toxins. But that’s not all. The sauna has many other benefits, which we will discuss in the next part of this article.

Benefits of Sauna Use


An important benefit of visiting a sauna is detoxification. The heat in the sauna stimulates sweat production, which is a natural mechanism by which our body removes toxins.

Sweating in a sauna can assist in the elimination of many substances, such as heavy metals, BPA, and phthalates, which can accumulate in our bodies over time. As a result, regular use of a sauna can improve overall well-being and health.

However, it is important to remember to properly hydrate before, during, and after using the sauna to prevent dehydration, which can result from intense sweating.

Improvement of Blood Circulation and Heart Function

A sauna is a real therapy for our circulatory system, which has a beneficial effect on heart health. The heat causes blood vessels to dilate, improving blood flow and oxygenation of the body. This, in turn, speeds up muscle recovery and helps combat aches and tension.

Regular use of a sauna may also help improve heart health. A study conducted by Laukkanen and colleagues (2015) showed that regular sauna use was associated with a lower risk of coronary artery disease and sudden cardiac death.

In addition, there are studies confirming that regular sauna use can help lower blood pressure in people with hypertension, as published in the “Journal of Human Hypertension”.

These results suggest that regular sauna use can have many benefits for heart and circulatory health.

Support for the immune system

A sauna is also a natural way to strengthen our immune system. High temperatures raise our body temperature, mimicking a fever state – a natural defense mechanism of our body. This stimulates the immune system to produce more white blood cells and antibodies.

In this case, too, science confirms these benefits. A study published in the “Journal of Athletic Training” showed that regular sauna use can reduce the risk of colds and flu.

Improvement of the respiratory system

Using a sauna has the potential to improve respiratory system health. The heat and humidity in the sauna can alleviate symptoms associated with the respiratory tract, such as a runny nose and cough.

Studies have shown that regular sauna use can provide relief for patients with asthma and chronic bronchitis, reducing the frequency and intensity of symptoms (Kunutsor et al., 2020). This is associated with the action of heat, which helps relax the bronchial muscles, making breathing easier.

What are the health benefits of saunas?

Support in Weight Loss

Although the sauna itself does not burn fat, it can support weight loss in several ways. First, intense sweating helps eliminate toxins from the body, which can support overall health and well-being. Second, during a sauna session, the body has to work harder to maintain its normal temperature, increasing caloric burn and potentially speeding up metabolism.

However, it should be noted that most of the weight lost in the sauna is water, which can easily be regained after rehydrating the body. Therefore, the sauna should not be the only weight loss strategy, but can be a valuable supplement to a healthy diet and regular physical activity.

Help in the Fight Against Cellulite

The sauna can be an effective tool in the fight against cellulite. The heat of the sauna leads to the expansion of blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the skin, and can help in reducing cellulite.

Improving blood circulation in the skin can help reduce cellulite by increasing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to skin cells. This is important as poor blood circulation is one of the factors contributing to the formation of cellulite.

However, it’s important to remember that using a sauna should not replace a healthy diet and regular physical activity as the main strategies for combating cellulite.

Improvement of Skin Health

The sauna is known for its beneficial effect on the skin. Heat and steam open the pores, facilitating the elimination of toxins and impurities. The sauna also stimulates the production of collagen, which can help maintain the firmness and elasticity of the skin.

Many studies confirm these benefits. For example, a study published in the “Journal of Dermatology” showed that regular sauna use can help in treating skin problems such as acne, psoriasis, or eczema.

More information was written in the article about whether one can use a sauna with skin diseases.

Muscle Relaxation

Muscle relaxation is a key benefit of sauna use. The heat generated by the sauna helps to relax tense muscles, providing relief from muscle pain.

However, studies show that using a sauna directly before or after intense exercise may be inappropriate as it can lead to overheating and dehydration of the body.

It is recommended to use the sauna an hour after finishing your workout, allowing the body to cool down and hydrate properly. More information about sauna use in the context of sports training can be found in our article about sauna and training.

Support for Mental Health

The last but not least benefit of using a sauna is support for mental health. The sauna is a place of relaxation and rest, which allows you to disconnect from everyday problems for a moment. The high temperatures help to relax the muscles and reduce tension, which can bring relief in stress and anxiety.

Studies confirm that regular sauna use can help manage stress and improve mood. For example, a study conducted by the University of Eastern Finland showed that men who regularly use the sauna had significantly lower rates of depression and anxiety.

Better Sleep

The sauna can contribute to improving sleep quality, which is extremely important for the overall state of health and well-being.

It appears that regular sauna use helps regulate the circadian rhythm, leading to deeper and more restorative sleep. Studies suggest that the heat of the sauna helps increase the production of endorphins, which are the body’s natural “painkillers”, and also can promote relaxation and facilitate falling asleep.

However, it’s important to avoid using a sauna directly before sleep as the elevated body temperature can make falling asleep more difficult. It’s recommended to use the sauna a few hours before sleep.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often do I use the sauna?

The frequency of sauna use depends on individual preference and health. Some experts recommend using the sauna 1-2 times a week, but it is important to always listen to your body and adjust the frequency according to your wellbeing and needs.

Is the sauna safe for older people?

Yes, the sauna is safe for people of all ages, provided they are generally healthy and have no contraindications to sauna use, such as severe heart disease. However, it is always advisable to consult your doctor before using a sauna.

Can I use the sauna if I am ill?

If you are ill, especially if you have a fever, it is advisable to avoid the sauna. High temperatures can put a strain on your body and worsen your condition. Always consult your doctor if you are unsure.

Does using a sauna help you relax?

Yes, sauna use is a well-known way to reduce stress and improve mood. The heat helps to relax your muscles, and the peace and tranquillity of the sauna can help you relax and take your mind off everyday worries.

Safety and Contraindications

Sauna use is safe for most people, but there are certain conditions and situations that require extra caution. People with heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney failure, or other serious health conditions should consult a doctor before using a sauna, as the intense heat and temperature spikes can put additional strain on the body.

Pregnant women should also avoid saunas, especially during the first trimester, when there is an increased risk of hyperthermia, which can affect fetal development.

People who have recently consumed alcohol should also avoid saunas. Alcohol dilates blood vessels, which increases the risk of dehydration and a drop in blood pressure, which can lead to unconsciousness in the hot sauna environment.

In addition, sauna use can lead to dehydration. Therefore, it is important to stay hydrated before and after your sauna visit by drinking plenty of water, herbal tea or other non-alcoholic beverages.

For those who have never used a sauna before, a gradual introduction to the sauna routine is recommended, starting with shorter sessions and less intense heat, so that the body can adapt to the new conditions.

The sauna is not only a place to relax, but also a real oasis of health. Regular sauna use can provide many health benefits, such as improving blood circulation, supporting the immune system, aiding weight loss, improving skin health and supporting mental health.

We encourage you to use the sauna, following the safety recommendations. Remember that everyone’s body is different, so listen to your body and adjust the time and frequency of sauna use to suit your individual needs.

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Since 2011 I have had my own business selling sauna building materials, sauna cookers and sauna accessories. I know all about building a quality sauna!