The word's getting out about using saunas for weight loss and health benefits. Do they work? Are they for you?
What is it you can really expect from sitting in a sauna, sweating, and feeling the heat?
What Is A Sauna?
A sauna's typical definition is a room that's heated to between temperatures of 150oF to 195oF. Finnish-style saunas are simply heated. Turkish-style saunas use steam. However, that's a designation that is fading from common use.
Typically, saunas are small rooms heated, humidified, and used for detoxification, sweating, and healing. They're very similar to sweat lodges and some pregnancy houses. Although uncommon in the United States, they are very popular in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
How Sweating and Heat Work To Help You Be Healthy
The original saunas were used for healing purposes. Sweating is a very effective way of helping the body to heal from illness or injury.
It's very popular nowadays to use saunas for weight loss. But, it should not be the only way you try and lose weight.
That's because the primary weight you lose is water weight. You sweat out a lot of water, anywhere from a pint to a quart per session. It might even be more if you are overweight. This is normal and one of the primary reasons for going to a sauna. However, once you drink more water, you will put the weight back on.
But, there is a secondary reason weight loss happens. In many sauna sessions, your metabolism increases upwards of 30%. This burns more energy and sugars throughout your body for the next several hours. So, when combined with exercise, it can significantly increase the amount of weight you lose.
There's also some hidden ways for saunas to increase your ability to lose weight. The first one has to do with your ability to breathe. Being in a sauna can help the mucus in your lungs flow better, allowing more oxygen to reach your blood.
It also helps increase the vasodilator nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps open up fine capillaries in your extremities, helping to reduce the heat of your inner core. It also helps bring oxygen, nutrients, and blood to your extremities. In addition, getting more blood into the fine capillaries of your lungs can help increase the amount of oxygen in your blood.
Many people find saunas to be relaxing. They encourage you to take a few minutes out of your day and completely relax without distraction. This can be similar to meditation, which helps release endorphins and lower the stress hormone cortisol. As cortisol can encourage weight gain, so reducing your cortisol levels regularly helps you lose weight faster.
And finally, there's the detoxification. As your skin is the largest elimination organ of your body, many heavy metals and wastes get expelled through sweat. Using a sauna can help detoxify your body and help you to be healthier.
Where To Find Saunas and How To Use Them
Many places added saunas to their services - spas, salons, doctor's offices, massage centers, holistic centers, and many more. It's becoming trendy.
Most will not come with instructions, however. Typically, it's recommended you use a bathing suit or be fully covered in a towel with appropriate footwear before using the sauna. Because of the warm and usually moist environment, bacteria and fungus grow rapidly. Most places clean regularly and thoroughly, but you should be aware of the possibility of contamination at all times. Most commonly, athlete's foot is the most common problem.
Start slowly, limiting your time to 10 minutes for the first few sessions. Then, as you get used to the heat and how your body reacts to it, you can increase your time. Most sessions are beneficial at 20 to 30 minutes.
Be sure to drink plenty of water. The heat increases your metabolism and causes you to sweat profusely. It's quite easy to lose a pint of water per sauna session. You'll need to increase your regular water intake by at least that much to offset the difference.
People with high blood pressure or other conditions affected by heat and sweating should use caution and speak to their doctor before using a sauna. Additionally, people on medication or who may be pregnant should consult their physician prior.
A sauna can be a great way to lose weight and increase your health. This ancient tool for keeping yourself healthy can be a great addition to your regular self-care regimen.