Most people think of using a sauna as a luxurious, spa-like experience, where even though lounging amongst other half-naked, sweaty strangers in silence is quite the odd experience, the end result is a blissful full body high and lovely feeling of rejuvenation. For most Americans, a spa, the occasional gym or higher end hotel, is their only encounter with a sauna, and it’s not surprising as they can be expensive and very large. If you polled the average person whether they thought a session in these hot boxes was healthy, they’d probably say, “Sure!”, but wouldn’t be able to tell you why exactly. They’d say something about detox and sweating, and how great they feel afterwards, but that’s about it.
This type of heat therapy isn’t new, from Native American sweat lodges to Scandinavian Sauna culture, but for some reason it hasn’t quite taken hold in the US. But that’s changing! Within the last few years, health experts and scientists from various fields including Fitness, Longevity, Cardiovascular, and Brain health, are championing saunas as not just feel good boxes, but impressive medicinal tools.
From elite athlete’s, like Laird Hamilton and Ben Greenfield, using them to help build aerobic capacity, endurance, and aid in recovery to Wellness experts preaching the benefits of stress and inflammation reduction, we’re just now seeing the hard data bubble to the surface.
Most impressively, however, might be the health benefits Dr. Rhonda Patrick outlines in her recent address at the Heart Summit 2019.
A sample from her website FoundmyFitness.com :
“Several studies have shown that frequent sauna bathing (4-7 times per week, 174°F for 20 min.) is associated with a 50% lower risk for fatal heart disease, 60% lower risk for sudden cardiac death, 51% lower risk for stroke, and 46% lower risk for hypertension. Just a single sauna session has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve heart rate variability, and improve arterial compliance.”
With scientific findings finally coming to the forefront, will Americans embrace the sauna with a passion seen in Scandinavia? With health benefits so similar to those obtained through exercise, will we see saunas popping up in home gyms?
Watch Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s presentation below.