4-Day A Week Sauna Soak
What happens to your body when you soak in a sauna for 4 days a week?
So I was speaking to my husband today and he said that he wasn’t feeling well and wanted to just go to bed tonight after work. I asked him if I warmed up the sauna if he would sit in it before going to bed. He replied with yes, I always sleep better and it seems to always wipe the bug out of me when I do. So this got me thinking… I always feel better after a sauna soak and I know why, but what would happen if I made more of commitment and made an effort to soak 4 days a week. So this is what happens when you soak in a sauna.
What Happens in One Sauna Soak?
1. Saunas improve cardiovascular performance.
Not surprisingly, sauna bathers most frequently cite stress reduction as the number one benefit of sauna use. Medical studies often determine that stress in our daily lives can negatively affect our health. In fact, the vast majority of disease (i.e. heart disease) is at least partially stress-related. Heat bathing in a sauna provides stress relief in a number of ways. It’s a warm, quiet space without any distractions coming from the outside. As we like to say, “Step into a Helo sauna, and close the door on the rest of the world.” The heat from the sauna relaxes the body’s muscles, improves circulation and stimulates the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s all-natural “feel good” chemical, and their release provides a truly wonderful “after sauna glow.”
- Reduced risk of all-cause mortality & fatal cardiac incidents (heart attacks). Using sauna 2-3 times per week at 174 degrees F reduces risk of Fatal Cardiovascular Disease by 27% and 4-7 times per week reduces risk by 50%
- Reduced risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) with regular sauna use. A 3-month study of bi-weekly sauna use showed reduced occurrence of high blood pressure.
- Long-term sauna use and aerobic exercise are associated with improved arterial compliance, which means the arteries are healthier and better able to handle additional stresses.
- Sauna use increases the heart rate similar to aerobic exercise with the heart rate ranging between 120-150 beats per minute.
2. Saunas aid in recovery after intense physical activity. Saunas relax muscles and soothe aches/pains in both muscles and joints.
Under the high heat provided by a sauna, the body releases endorphins (see health and wellness benefit #1). Endorphins can have a mild, enjoyable “tranquilizing effect” and the ability to minimize the pain of arthritis and muscle soreness other from, say, an intense physical workout. Body temperature also rises from the heat of
the sauna.. This causes blood vessels to dilate, therefore increasing blood circulation. This increased blood flow in turn speeds up the body’s natural healing process via soothing aches and pains and/or speeding up of the healing of minor bruises or cuts. After participating in physical sports, use the heat and/or steam of a sauna to promote muscle relaxation by helping to reduce muscle tension and eliminate lactic acid and/or other toxins that may be present.
- Regular sauna use may also benefit strength training through improved recovery & muscle growth through the increased growth hormones.
- Growth hormone increases by 200-300% after a single sauna use, which helps with reducing muscle atrophy. This relates to University of Iowa study.
- Three-weeks of post-exercise sauna bathing increased run time to exhaustion by 32% in male distance runners.
3. Saunas Flush Toxins
Many – if not most – of us do not actively sweat on a daily basis. Deep sweating, however, has multiple proven health benefits. Benefits derived from a deep sweat can be achieved via regular sauna bathing.Due to the heat of a sauna, the core body temperature begins to rise. The blood vessels then dilate, causing increased blood flow (see above). As heat from the blood begins to move toward the skin’s surface, the body’s nervous system then sends signals to the millions of sweat glands that cover the human body. As the sweat glands become stimulated, they produce sweat. Sweat production is primarily designed to cool the body, and is composed of 99% water. However, deep sweating in a sauna can help reduce levels of lead, copper, zinc, nickel, mercury and chemical – which are all toxins commonly absorbed just from interacting with our daily environments.There is no shortage of books from Doctors and practitioners, who describe the benefits of detoxifying our bodies regularly. As many doctors will agree, a big reason for the popularity of saunas is that they are one of the best ways to detoxify our bodies.
4. Reduces incidences of Alzheimer’s by 65%
A 20-year study conducted with more than 2,300 participants at the University of Eastern Finland by Dr. Jari Laukkanen and his colleagues revealed regular sauna use (4-7 times per week) at 176 degrees F for 19 minutes lowered the risk for both Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
The control group for the study seldom, if ever, used sauna (0-1 times per week).
5. Saunas relieve stress.
Sauna use can help the body and mind adapt to stress and reduce the risk of depression and other mental disorders. In addition to the adaption to stress, the improved cardiorespiratory fitness contributes to the therapeutic effects of sauna for depression and anxiety.
6. Saunas Can Induce a Deeper Sleep
Research has shown that a deeper, more relaxed sleep can result from sauna use. In addition to the release of endorphins (see above), body temperatures, which become elevated in the late evening,fall at bedtime. This slow, relaxing decline in endorphins is key in facilitating sleep. Numerous sauna bathers worldwide recall the deep sleep experiences that they feel after bathing the the calming heat of a sauna.
7. Saunas Can Help Fight Illness
German sauna medical research shows that saunas were able to significantly reduce the incidences of colds and influenza among participants. As the body is exposed to the heat of a sauna and steam (in the case of traditional saunas), it produces white blood cells more rapidly, which in turn helps to fight illnesses and helps to kill viruses. In addition, saunas can relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of sinus congestion from colds or allergies – especially when used with steam (tip: add eucalyptus to the water for added benefit and overall enjoyment). The steam vapor action helps to clear up unwanted congestion and is a wonderful aspect of the Finnish sauna experience.
8. Sauna Cleanses The Skin
Heat bathing is one of the oldest beauty and/or health strategies in terms of cleansing one’s skin. When the body begins to produce sweat via deep sweating, the skin is then cleansed and dead skin cells are replaced – keeping your skin in good working condition. Sweating rinses bacteria out of the epidermal layer and sweat ducts. Cleansing of the pores has been shown to improve the capillary circulation, while giving the skin a softer-looking quality.
9. Saunas Burn Calories
Outlandish claims are often made by some sauna sellers (primarily those who sell infrared saunas) to promote saunas as an end-all weight loss tool. While some individuals may experience high amounts of calorie burn at first – particularly those individuals in poor shape to begin with – over the long term, saunas are simply treated as one of many tools in our arsenal when it comes to burn additional calories.The sweating process itself requires a notable amount of energy. That energy is derived from the conversion of fat and carbohydrates in a bodily process that burns up calories. According to U.S. Army medical research (Ward Dean, M.D.), “A moderately conditioned person can easily sweat off 500 grams in a sauna in a single session, consuming nearly 300 calories in the process.”The body consumes said calories due to the acceleration of heart activity (the cardiovascular section). As heart activity increases and as these processes demand more oxygen, the body begins to convert more calories into usable energy.
10. Saunas Bring Out Recreational and Social Benefits
While the social benefit is rarely talked about, it’s actually quite important. The sauna can be a private, personal area of relaxation and solitude. However, it can just as easily be a relaxing environment for socializing with family, friends and soon-to-be friends. The sauna room environment is conducive to open, intimate and quiet conversation.
11. Saunas Just Feel Good
A sauna not only feels good, it’s good for your body. Whether it’s the physiological changes that occur during the warmth of a sauna, or if it’s simply the time spent in the calming and still retreat of the sauna, every seasoned sauna bather agrees – it feels wonderful! As we progress through our stressful everyday lives, the sauna provides a pampering retreat – where we can relax and restore body and soul. Sauna bathing truly makes you “Feel Better”, “Look Better” and “Sleep Better”!
So after all of these benefits. What happens after 4 Days of Sauna Bathing?
THE FIRST DAY
The sauna was made out of wood and glass and was already warm when I got in. I laid down on the towel, closed my eyes and began to relax. After about 10 minutes, I did notice that I was warm and my heart rate was increasing but I was comfortable and content. The thermostat was set at 140 degrees.
I was beginning to sweat however, so I laid back down on the towel and did some deep breathing. About halfway through the session I had to pop the door open to get some cooler air. I was very warm, but it wasn’t unbearable.
For the remainder of the time, I would pop the door open every 5 minutes or so so I could avoid having to step out (I had a goal of staying in there the whole 40 minutes). That’s how most of my sessions went throughout the week.
THE SIDE EFFECTS OF DETOXING
A few hours after my first session, I began to develop a pretty intense stomach ache. It lasted for a few hours and then went away. I thought it was just a fluke, but everyday over the course of that week after I left my session, I would get one.
On day 3 I asked someone that worked at the studio about it, and she said it can happen because our bodies are detoxifying in a way they aren’t normally used to. This was a bit comforting and all-in-all I wasn’t too concerned, I was just very uncomfortable! By day 4 there was no stomach ache and I found that I started sweating much sooner in the session.
RADIANT AND RENEWED SKIN
By the third day, I noticed that my skin was as soft as a babies you-know-what and was just glowing. Normally I would attribute this to the incredibly expensive line of skin care that I use (wink wink) but it was even more radiant and soft than ever.
My skin felt revived, refreshed and anew.
HEART RATE INCREASE
I did wear my Apple watch into the sauna after day 1 as I did feel like I had put in a major work out. My resting rate was 87 BPM when I started and usually got up to about 120 BPM once I got a really good sweat going. According to Web MD On average, the study found, sauna users saw a drop in blood pressure and artery “stiffness” immediately after their heat bath. They also showed an increase in heart rate that was similar to the effect from moderate exercise.
I definitely noticed a difference in water retention. To keep from getting dehydrated, I was drinking a lot of water with a squeeze of lemon throughout the day and my body took very well to it.
I’m not sure if I lost weight (I don’t really weigh myself), but I did notice a decrease in water retention and a slight increase in muscle definition—win in my book! My jeans fit much loser.
I did notice that my energy levels were higher throughout the day and that I was sleeping much, much harder than normal. Win-win on that account!
All-in-all, I would definitely recommend trying a Sauna for yourself if you are looking to detox or begin making a change to your overall health.
Have you tried the sauna soak challenge. How did you feel after 4 days?