Cardiovascular Health – Sauna usage replicates the cardiovascular response to exercise, increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and cardiovascular function.

  • Decreases risk of sudden cardiac death and all-cause mortality
  • Increases heart function (blood flow, elasticity, increased heart size and strength)
  • Improves Lipid Profile (decreases LDL bad cholesterol, increases HDL good cholesterol, decreases triglycerides)

Inflammation – is part of the body’s immune response to stress. Short-term inflammation occurs after injuries (think red and swollen). Chronic inflammation occurs when your body continues sending inflammatory cells even with the removal of stressors. Chronic inflammation plays a major role in chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

  • Saunas reduce some short term inflammation markers that are linked with cardiovascular stress
  • Saunas, when paired with cold showers, have been shown to increase anti-inflammation markers to lower the inflammation in the body

Cognitive & Mental Health – Sauna usage has been liked to enhanced cognitive function.

  • Heat stress from saunas increases the creation of a chemical in the brain called (BDNF). It is linked to the growth of new brain cells (neurons)
  • BDNF also enhances the brain’s ability to learn and mitigates anxiety and depression from early-life stressful events 
  • Heat exposure increase blood flow to the brain, which is linked to decreasing the impact of cognitive decline, and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s
  • Chronic inflammation markers occur in people with depression which promotes depressive systems and induced changes in the brain and brain function
  • Sauna usage has been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression
  • Sauna exposure to exhaustion increases the release 2 hormones in the brain
  • Norepinephrine (enhances focus & attention)
  • Prolactin (makes the brain function faster, and critical in repairing nerve cell damage)


Physical Fitness & Athletic Performance – Heat stress from sauna usage can influence improvement in physical fitness and enhance athletic performance.

  • Increases time to exhaustion of runners by 32 percent compared to baseline
  • Efficiency of the heart
  • Increases in v02max
  • Reduces cardiovascular strain and lowered heart rate at standard workloads.
  • Increases blood flow to working muscles
  • Improves ability to regulate temperature with a lower response to heat (Heat stress can be used like exercise, increase the exposure to heat stress and the body adapts over time, becoming more efficient at managing heat stress. This can be done prior to PCS’ing or deployment to somewhere hot)
  • Post-injury daily sauna exposure reduces muscle loss by 37 percent

 

Detoxification – Sweating helps the body get rid of toxins that accumulate in muscle, fat, and other organs in the body. Sauna usage increases the core temperature, which forces the body to sweat in an attempt to cool off, which will get rid of toxins.

Type of Sauna or heat

Electric Heat Sauna (MCCS Facilities)

Wood Fire (old school)

 

Infrared (emit thermal radiation, which heats the body directly)

 

Steam Room/ Wet Sauna

 

Optimal Temperature

176-194 degrees

 

176-194 degrees

 

113-140 degrees

 

110-115 degrees

Minimum Usage

X1/ week 5 mins

X1/ week 5 mins

X1/ week 5 mins

X1/ week 5 mins

Optimal Time 

X3-7/ week 20 mins

X3-7/ week 20 mins

X3-7/ week 20 mins

X3-7/ week 20 mins

 

- A note on sauna usage and cooling. Going in-between a sauna and cold showers or ice baths will tax the cardiovascular system to a greater degree due to the movement of blood from the skin to cool off, and the organs to heat up.