Exploring the Benefits of Sauna Sessions

In this fast moving world of blurred health truths, calorie counting, slim is healthy, strong is a better healthy, medical research politics and pseudo health busters, I am going to ask a simple yes or no question – Do you sweat regularly? Yes, I genuinely want to learn if you have a good sweat! Because regardless of the latest sensationalised headlines, something as simple as sweating will positively impact your life.

How to Sweat, if you’re not sweating regularly

Exercise is the obvious way to activate sweat and in a Perth summer, it’s easy to work up a sweat. However if you are unable to partake in physical activity, perhaps due to an injury or illness. You may find yourself not sweating regularly even with exercise. A hot bath or sauna can help to achieve a nice sweat. While exercise should never be replaced, a sauna can certainly enhance the positives of a workout as well.

Forms of sauna include traditional sauna, far infrared saunas and near infrared.

Sauna Benefits

A few well known benefits of sweating in a sauna include;

Expelling toxins like heavy metals, BPA, pesticides and herbicides.

Sweating toxins through the skin gives the body’s other detoxing organs such as the liver and kidneys a helping hand.

Breaking out in a sweat during a sauna session indicates the blood is flowing and circulation is good. This also leads to a cascade of positive improvements in a person’s overall well being, digestion, transportation of nutrients, blood flow to muscles, sinuses and joint inflammation.

Skin is the largest organ of the body and sweating cleans the skin and clears the pores.

Sweating in a sauna is easy on the sympathetic nervous system, the body’s function for activating the fight or flight response.

The metabolic rate increases and promotes healing.

Stimulates a feeling of deep relaxation and a good night’s sleep.

Raising the body’s temperature assists the body in killing bacteria, fungi and parasites.

A specific sauna program has potential to also encourage the production of human growth hormone and increase insulin sensitivity.

How does the body sweat in a sauna?

Briefly, dry air within a traditional sauna heats the body past the normal body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius, the body responds in an effort to cool down by moving blood to the skin from the internal organs, circulation increases all over.  Sweating begins as a secondary measure to cool the body and intensifies.

Beginning safe sauna sessions

Time in a sauna should always be relaxing and calm and it may takes a few sessions to know how to achieve this because overdoing it can lead to the opposite effect and in some extreme cases be fatal.

For a first time visit here are a few simple tips;

When stepping into a sauna for the first time, observe your body and how it feels in the heated environment. As much as you may be enjoying it, the most important thing is not to go too far for those first sessions.

If you are not feeling that great, leave the sauna immediately and cool down.

The idea is to gradually build up the amount of time spent in the sauna. Before you begin to sweat, quite a bit of activity is underway inside the body, 1 to 5 minutes may be enough, 15 minutes should be the max for any first time sauna visitor.

Timing is key and it depends on each individual, try first thing in the morning or late in the evening.

Seek advice if you have an illness, prone to heart issues or pregnant.

Avoid sauna use after drinking alcohol and eating a heavy meal.

Avoid sauna use with open wounds.

Remember as you sweat out toxins, you may also be sweating out some of the good minerals. If you are congested, weak or low in vital minerals such as Magnesium you may not experience the optimal benefits. A wholesome diet is recommended for supporting sauna sessions.

If you have adrenal fatigue symptoms, 10 – 15 minutes is more than enough.

The body temperature may remain elevated for up to 15 minutes after the session and this is a good time to relax. Cool off in a luke warm shower.

If the next day you’re feeling exhausted and fried, it could be you’ve overdone it and or not supported your body. You may be having a reaction from the healing and need to allow a day or so before returning. It can also be you are simply heat sensitive or activating adrenal fatigue symptoms.

You may not sweat all over initially, some people are congested, just remember it will only get better with regular use.

Gym Sauna Etiquette

Respect others, some enjoy a social chat, others wish to close their eyes and simply meditate.

Bring a small towel to wipe sweat or sit on.

Bring along a bottle of water to prevent dehydration.

If you prefer, wear thongs.

Most public and gym saunas in Australia require bathers to be worn.

It is kind of odd to see people use the sauna as a workout. To hear them groan as they attempt several yoga poses is a tad disruptive in such a tiny space.

Think of the sauna as a time to be thoughtless and without connection to technology, so this means do not bring the phone or ipad in with you.

Never overdo a sauna session

Experimental Results

I began using a sauna when I spent a period of time seeing the naturopath for some health issues I was seeking help with. Having never seen or used a sauna before, it was an unusual activity for me to try out, however that said, these days a sauna session doesn’t seem as foreign anymore.

In combination with lifestyle changes, here are a couple of results and experiences from my own sauna sessions;

I found I sauna best in the evenings before dinner, it’s my mental way of washing the day away and seems to work for me.

I don’t sauna well immediately after exercise, instead on a rest day I’ll go for a sauna and sweat substantially more than I would if I were to sauna after a workout.

My skin was initially congested, so sweating began in my hands, knees and lower back for a couple of months before I began to experience all over sweat.

Sometimes I went a little too far and felt tired the next day. I learnt how to sauna for my body pretty quickly follow these not so good experiences.

I avoid the sauna if I’m anxious or close to the time following consumption of coffee.

My overall emotional well being improved and mental clarity exploded. Sleep improved greatly as a result of being in a relaxed state of mind in the evenings.

Endurance in physical activity improved for the first time.

With health issues I was addressing with the naturopath, I took a hair mineral test before which provided me with a good idea of where I sat in terms of my body’s minerals and toxic elements. I then took a test afterwards and was pleased to see some positive results. Particularly a reduction in toxins like Mercury and Aluminium over the 7 months.

Mercury levels in hair taken in Jan 2015  – 3.67 ppm

Mercury levels in hair taken in Aug 2015 –  0.24 ppm

Aluminium levels in hair taken in Jan 2015 –  10.0 ppm

Aluminium levels in hair taken in Aug 2015 –  4.7 ppm

ppm = parts per million

Medi Scan indicates Mercury levels should be between 0 – 1.0 ppm

While the sauna no doubt aided an improvement in health, I know the considerable shift in my diet by eating more whole foods and less processed as well as lifestyle changes were also very strong contributing factors. Because honestly the less shit you put in the body, the less the body is burdened. That said, sometimes it’s difficult to gauge exactly what’s in food when toxins are hidden and not always tested for in foods.

How do you find the sauna? Have you tried it before?

Photo disclosure

I couldn’t exactly take the camera and shoot photos inside the sauna, so I consulted google for a photo to use.  You know on day time television when you see infomercials of exercise equipment and the lady and man have beautiful bodies and hard rock abs. Somehow they stand on a vibrating platform a couple of days and week and hello perfect summer body!  That is kind of what happened when I typed in sauna picture into google. Anyway the picture is from the Tašmajdan Sports and Recreation Center in Belgrade.

Sources

Sauna Therapy by Lawrence Wilson 2014

Heat Therapy and Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome by Michael Lam

Change in hormones reflecting sympathetic activity in the Finnish sauna. Lammintausta R, Syvälahti E, Pekkarinen A.

Regulation of immune activity by mild (fever-range) whole body hyperthermia: effects on epidermal Langerhans cells J.R. Ostberg,1 R. Patel,1 and E.A. Repasky1,2

Are Saunas the Next Big Performance-Enhancing “Drug”? by Tim Ferris

How Saunas can become lethal

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2 thoughts on “Exploring the Benefits of Sauna Sessions”

  1. Interesting. Sauna does ‘t seem to be as much of a thing here as it does in colder countries. The few times I’ve been to a sauna it’s been during winter and you’d have to run out through the snow into a cool pool.

    1. You are right its not much of thing with the public saunas in Perth being located opposite a heavily chlorinated pool. Sure would be invigorating jumping into snow afterwards!!!

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