At AJ’s Sports Centre, we’ve recently refurbished our saunas. Both are now ready for you to enjoy. But what are the benefits of using saunas?
The primary benefit of saunas is that they induce sweating. Although most of us go to great lengths to avoid sweating, perspiration has two essential functions: It cools you down, and it rids the body of waste products.
The body contains two main types of sweat glands:
- Apocrine glands, located mostly in the armpits, pubic area and scalp, secrete sweat that contains fats and other organic compounds. (Bacteria on the skin interacting with these compounds is what causes body odor.)
- Eccrine glands, which number more than 2 million and are scattered all over the body, are the real workhorses when it comes to sweating. Activated by heat as well as stress and emotions, these glands secrete odorless, watery sweat that cools you down as it evaporates on the skin.
Saunas: The Benefits of Sweating
Sweating mobilizes toxins stored in the fat and enhances their elimination. That’s where using a sauna becomes so beneficial. On an average day, your eccrine glands put out about a litre of sweat. But when you hang out in a sauna, they pump out that much in 15 minutes.
Study of 9/11 Rescue Workers
One of the most recent studies of this program is the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project. When the World Trade Center buildings collapsed on September 11, 2001, massive amounts of toxins were released, and the firemen, policemen, and other rescue and cleanup workers bore the brunt of this environmental disaster.
As you might expect, acute respiratory distress was common in this group. However, over the subsequent weeks and months, a significant number of these individuals experienced a wide range of health issues, including gastrointestinal complaints, worsening pulmonary problems, depression, irritability and cognitive disorders.
From September 2002 through September 2005, more than 500 of these rescue workers, the majority of them firefighters between the ages of 35 and 45, completed a sauna detox program, and the results were astounding.
Before Treatment (which averaged 33 days)
- They missed a median of 2.1 days of work per month
- Had 4.4 days of limited activity
- Symptom severity scores—which rated 10 systems, including skin, respiratory, emotional, cognitive and musculoskeletal—were high
- Half of the participants were taking drugs to manage their symptoms.
- The number of days of missed work or limited activity fell to 0.2
- Symptom scores dropped dramatically
- 84 percent of participants had discontinued all their drugs because their symptoms had cleared up
- They also had significant improvements in thyroid function, balance and reaction time
Cardiovascular Benefits of Saunas
The benefits of a sauna extend beyond detoxification; it’s also good for your heart. Sitting in a sauna has effects akin to mild exercise. The heart gets a gentle workout while the heat of the sauna dilates the capillaries and improves blood flow.
In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 15 minutes in a sauna a day for 14 days improved the function of the endothelial cells lining the arteries by 40 percent.
Japanese researchers have found that sitting in a sauna is particularly helpful for congestive heart failure. After taking daily saunas for four weeks, 13 of 15 patients with serious heart failure had significant decreases in blood pressure and improvements in ejection fraction (a measure of the heart’s pumping ability), exercise tolerance and oxygen uptake.
Additional Benefits of Saunas
Other conditions for which sauna is proving to be helpful include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Mild depression
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Musculoskeletal pain
- Skin conditions
While it depends on the state of your health and age, saunas can cleanse your skin, increase circulation, open up your airways and sinuses, ease muscle and rheumatic pain, strengthen your immune system, improve joint movement and act as a great stress release for tension. Sweating opens up your pores, lets out toxins and impurities, increases circulation and is great for stimulating the vessels that aid in the healing process of infections. A sauna can also speed recovery time for injuries such as strains, sprains, arthritis and muscular pain. Another bonus includes being able to stimulate the endocrine glands that are important for regulating mood, tissue function, metabolism, sexual function and the reproductive process.
- One sauna session increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients delivered to your organs – especially the skin.
- Saunas make your body heat up the same way it would if you had a fever, helping your body to heal itself.
- They’re face-friendly! Saunas will relax face muscles, aid in a clearer complexion, and help remove dirt and oil.
- We have a special gland called the sebaceous gland on our scalp, which releases compounds that help condition and moisturize our hair. Spending some time in the sauna activates this gland, which will then release these useful compounds, thereby helping to make hair look great. There’s no need to spend a fortune on risky hair care products.
- One of the significant organs of our body, your skin also needs regular exercise and saunas are a great way to exercise skin. As we grow older, more of the dead cells accumulate onto our skin pores, as the skin becomes less elastic. A few sessions in the sauna improve blood flow to our skin, which aids the growth of new skin and also removes all the dead cells that were building up previously. The oils, which are the natural moisturizers and antibiotics present in our skin are mobilized through saunas. This helps us to look younger in a significant way.
Benefits of Saunas and Your Workouts
Saunas help improve performance during endurance sports.
Our body has a certain level for heat tolerance. Regular use of saunas increases the heat tolerance threshold. This leads to significant improvements in endurance sports as regular sauna users have a higher heat tolerance level and thus, feel less fatigue and can maintain their energy level over a prolonged period of time, improving performance.
Saunas help to recover from workouts.
Saunas are highly effective ways to recover from workouts. The metabolic wastes are eliminated while sweating in a sauna. The blood flow to tired and strained muscles increases through sauna, helping them to recover quickly and feel relaxed much quicker.
Saunas help in weight loss.
Sauna therapy is a great way for weight loss, with minimal effort. Scientific calibrations suggest that a 20-minute session at around 170 degrees Fahrenheit burns over 500 calories. The body’s metabolism speeds up similar to the way it does from physical exercise and is a great method to maintain weight.
Why not check out our saunas now that you know how good they are for you? Use of our saunas are part of our normal membership package, or you can choose a membership that includes the pools and saunas only. Contact us for your tour of our facilities – you won’t be disappointed!