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Try-It Tuesday: The Sauna

Written by: Cindi Lockhart, RD, LD, Weight Loss Coaching Program Manager

Conventional saunas (or Finnish baths) provide up to 185° of dry heat to enhance blood circulation near the skin to stimulate sweating and provide several health benefits. A study in the American Journal of Medicine, confirmed the benefits of sauna bathing for lowering blood pressure, improving airway function in asthma and bronchitis conditions, better joint mobility and reduced pain in those with arthritis, as well as improving psoriatic conditions. [i] 

The rise in body temperature enhances both circulation and release of feel-good chemicals called endorphins, which assist in relieving muscular aches and pain and reducing overall stress.  The detoxification benefits of sauna use cannot be understated — the controlled deep sweating that occurs helps release heavy metals, chemicals, and other toxins via our largest organ — the skin.  Another health benefit from the deep sweating is the cleansing of bacteria from our pores, sloughing off dead skin cells, lending to an invigorating and vibrant skin tone, vitality, and glow.

At all Life Time clubs, you will find a dry sauna on the indoor pool deck or in the locker room.  If you’re not a member of Life Time, there are several companies who sell in-home saunas.

If you’re new to sauna bathing, you should start slow. Check with your physician first if you have high blood pressure, a heart condition or are pregnant. Then, stay in only as long as you feel comfortable, and build to 10-15 minutes duration. Try for three sauna sessions a week to support optimal nervous system function. Be sure to follow your sauna session with a cool shower to rinse away the salt and debris released from your body through sweat. Most importantly, drink water to replenish after so much perspiration.

Try something new — sweat it out in the sauna!

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

[i]  Hannuksela, ML et al. Benefits and risks of sauna bathing.  Am J Med 2001 Feb 1; 110 (2): 118-26.

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Reader Comments (2)

Anyone know if there are benefits (better, worse, or same) from using a steam room vs the sauna?

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterb johnson

The steam room is great at detoxifiying the body as well, however due to the wet heat it is oftentimes more difficult to stay in long enough to make as much of an impact on the detox process. If you prefer that route & can stay 10-15 minutes, great. Just make sure to let the sweat roll off your body then follow up immediately with a shower to rinse the released toxins off your skin vs. rubbing them right back into your body/blood with a towel.

October 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCindi Lockhart, RD

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