A sauna might seem like a place to relax and then cool down, but using a sauna also comes with a range of benefits that can improve your health considerably.
These benefits have all largely and extensively been studied and researched, resulting in sufficient evidence to say that using a sauna can have such an impact as to extend your lifespan so as to prevent premature aging and death.
Knowing that these benefits are not merely hearsay but are backed by science can make the method of sitting in a sauna regularly a reliable method of improving your health.
Reading up on such research and their results can be particularly useful, which is why we will go through one such qualified researcher to help us understand the benefits and lifespan-extending capabilities of saunas.
This is Dr. Rhonda Patrick, the founder of Found My Fitness which provides important information and research regarding health and has also published a report on “Sauna Use: Implications for Aging and the Brain”.
Through this guide, you can go through what her research has studied, its results and conclusions, its key points that we can keep in mind, the takeaways and how we can benefit from it through household replication.
Dr. Rhonda Patrick has done plenty of research on saunas, especially in Finland, where a majority of households have their own saunas that they tend to use frequently.
According to her observations and studies conducted in Finland, there are benefits that range from improvement in cardiovascular functioning, reduced risk of dementia, lower stress levels and more. According to her study, however, the extent of benefits that you can glean can depend on how often and for how long you use the sauna.
For instance, the more you use the sauna, the more you are likely to glean the benefits. This can then end up improving your lifespan by preventing premature deaths and keeping you healthy and functioning for longer than usual.
Overall, if you use the sauna 4-7 times each week, you can expect to see up to a 40% reduction in risks associated with various kinds of causes and conditions that can affect one’s mortality.
This rate can differ with individual conditions such as heart diseases, strokes, dementia and others, but the overall rate can certainly be promising.
According to Dr. Patrick, Finnish sauna bathing generally includes spending five to 20 minutes per session, with each session having a cooling-off period. Spending closer to 20 minutes can be more beneficial as compared to spending lesser time.
The temperatures inside the sauna in this case usually range from 45°C to 100°C or 113°F to 212°F. Based on her study, Dr. Patrick suggests that repeated exposure to such high temperatures can acclimate the body and prepare it to fight better against harmful cells and substances that might affect it in the future.
By making this kind of sauna usage a regular practice and a part of our lifestyle, she suggests that we can extend our lifespan and improve the length of our healthy years considerably.
Of course, this might not offer protection against natural aging, but it can certainly prove effective against diseases and conditions that threaten to reduce our lifespan.
This method is also generally safe to carry out as long as you are a healthy adult.
What is it about Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s research that we can keep in mind and learn? Let’s take a look at some key points that can help you apply her suggestions to your own life and home.
- You can extend your lifespan through regular sauna use by reducing the risk of conditions such as coronary artery disease, strokes, dementia, chronic heart conditions, fluctuating blood pressure, cancer, thyroid conditions and more.
- By spending minutes at a time and several sessions each time you use the sauna, you can experience mild hyperthermia that increases your body temperature and leads to several functions that come together for thermoregulation and produce homeostasis.
- It is repeated and regular sauna usage that can allow your body to function against future harm. This tends to take place due to the process of hormesis.
- Sauna has similar effects on the body that regular exercise does, which is why it can be so beneficial. For instance, it can increase your body temperature, lead to intense sweating as well as a rise in the heart rate. The post-exercise and post-sauna effects are similar too, which can explain the similar cooling down experience.
- Saunas can also end up affecting the heat shock proteins inside the body that can protect the quality of the proteins inside the body while also reducing the level of inflammation to prevent the risk of certain diseases. By reducing certain proteins like C-reactive protein and increasing others like the IL-6 and IL-10, sauna can lead to several positive effects.
- Your mental health can also improve through sustained sauna usage.
- In case you are pregnant, have issues with fertility, suffer from other conditions or diseases, take regular medication for a disorder or are seeking treatment for anything, you might not be able to glean the benefits and might even suffer harm. This kind of usage can only benefit healthy adults.
Now that you are aware of Dr. Patrick’s research and the key points that you need to keep in mind, it is clear that the benefits of regular sauna usage are plenty. To ensure that this research stays with you, here are some takeaways that can benefit you moving forward.
- It can be beneficial to incorporate regular sauna usage into your routines. Many populations already have this practice in place, resulting in several health benefits for them. Set a routine and undertake short sessions multiple times a week.
- The kind of sauna you use can depend on your requirements and their benefits. While accessing a wood-paneled room might not always be possible or affordable, you can easily buy electric or infrared heaters or even full-blown sauna tents or domes for your house.
- If you have certain comorbidities or conditions, make it a point to avoid this kind of practice. Even if you are a healthy adult, it is best to consult a professional if you plan on using the sauna multiple times a week to confirm that it is safe for your case, especially considering that studies in this area are still ongoing and have so far largely been observational.
- As long as you practice this well (although it might take time for you to get used to it), you will be able to notice improvements in your physical and mental health over time.
Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s research and conclusions have several promising implications when it comes to our health and lifespans. If you can manage to replicate this practice at home with an infrared sauna tent or dome or even a sauna room, you can end up benefiting to a significant extent.
When these benefits come together, your overall lifespan is also likely to increase, with the risk of various conditions reducing depending on how frequently you use the sauna. To understand how you can benefit from regular home-based sauna usage, you can go through the following points.
You can see a marked improvement in your cardiovascular health, which can have several long-term benefits. By reducing the risk of sudden strokes and the development of chronic heart conditions, you can prevent the risk of premature death.
Additionally, this can also work to maintain normal blood pressure levels while also improving circulation in the body. This mainly takes place since your heart’s pump rate increases, making it easier for it to transport blood and oxygen quicker and more efficiently to the rest of the body.
Abnormal blood lipid levels can also reduce considerably through regular sauna usage, not to mention that the endothelium can see considerable protection.
In fact, if you use the sauna 4-7 times a week, you can reduce the risk of cardiac disease and death by as much as 63%.
Stress and anxiety can end up reducing one’s lifespan by quite an extent. Research suggests that heavy stress can reduce one’s life expectancy by as many as 2.8 years.
In particular, chronic and intense stress and anxiety can shorten your lifespan while also increasing the risk of certain associated conditions such as diabetes and heart attacks.
However, by spending a bit of time inside a sauna on a regular basis, you can improve the way your body reacts to stress while also being able to limit the frequency and intensity with which you feel it.
This is mainly because sitting in a sauna can loosen you up a bit, allowing you to unwind. Your parasympathetic nervous system will also kick in, thus regulating the production of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine.
Several chronic conditions can arise due to fatigue and pain. By reducing these in the first instance before they can keep snowballing and becoming worse, you can help ensure that you remain active and healthy for a long time, thus preventing premature aging.
Since saunas can work the heat on your body and increase temperatures, circulation can improve and the tension can be relieved. The tightness that you might feel in certain bones and muscles can loosen up a bit, allowing you to step out of the sauna refreshed.
Further, this can also be a great way to reduce the risk of chronic pain conditions such as arthritis. Your body can additionally become prepared and stronger when it comes to fighting against future injuries and pain.
Inflammation inside the body is often the leading cause of several diseases that reduce one’s lifespan. It can stem from oxidative stress in the body and can lead to harmful conditions of the heart and mind, while also increasing the risk of cancer.
The presence of excessive free radicals inside the body can end up increasing the level of inflammation in the body as well, which is why it is important to find ways to prevent this as much as possible.
Since saunas can improve circulation, blood and oxygen flow and can kill off some harmful cells, the level of inflammation can also reduce. The proteins that get activated during this process can also help with this.
Apart from stress and anxiety, saunas can also help improve your mental health. Conditions like depression and mood disorders can become slightly alleviated due to the reduced levels of inflammation in the body.
Sweat can also factor into this effect since it can regulate the body temperature by helping the body cool down after heating up, especially since conditions like depression can otherwise alter this regulation process.
In the long run, you can also become less likely to develop dementia while retaining a sharp memory, attention span and learning ability.
A sauna can help detoxify the body due to the amount of sweat produced. The toxins in our bodies can come from a variety of internal and (mainly) external sources which can then end up creating several problems, such as the increased risk of diseases, lower metabolism, lower immunity levels and more.
When the pores open as a result of the sweat produced in the sauna, many of these harmful toxins can leave the body and clear it up. Each time you sweat in a sauna, therefore, you can get rid of the toxic chemicals you may have acquired during your day from the environment.
You need a certain temperature level to be able to fall asleep and stay asleep to complete the sleep cycle in a healthy manner. Your body needs to be at a pretty cool temperature to ensure that it can get the rest that it needs.
If you are unable to achieve such temperatures, your sleep cycle can get affected and can lead to several chronic health issues if this becomes a regular occurrence. In a sauna, however, your body temperatures first rise considerably, leading to plenty of sweating.
Just as exercise can tire you out, so too can a sauna session, not to mention that the sweat produced can end up cooling the body down once you are out of the sauna, bringing the body temperature down and tiring you out enough.
Not a health benefit, but replicating the conclusions of the research at home using sauna tents can be quite convenient since you can simply set it up and get going. This can save you time, money and effort of actually having to visit a sauna.
You can also control the temperature and settings through a home sauna.
You can extend your lifespan by up to 40% if you use the sauna around 4-7 times per week in short sessions ranging up to 20 minutes.
Based on Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s research, this kind of usage can have several changes inside our bodies, which can then end up reducing the risk of harmful and fatal conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer as well as cognitive conditions like dementia.
Many cultures already have this kind of practice, but you can easily replicate it at home to glean the benefits. However, make sure you speak to a medical professional beforehand to ensure that you do not have any underlying conditions that can put you at risk.