Here’s Another Reason Saunas Are so Good for You

If you needed another reason to try out a sauna — or keep enjoying one — new research shows that regular sauna baths were associated with a significant reduction in a person’s risk of having a stroke. Not only that, the findings were “very strong” for multiple sauna bathing in a week. According to Time, scientists who conducted the study said taking a sauna four to seven times a week resulted in a 60 percent less risk of having a stroke, as compared to taking only one a week.

I love to talk about the benefits of regular sauna use, as it has a number of health benefits, from detoxification to improved cardiovascular and brain health, to improved mitochondrial function, lowered inflammation and a reduction in pain. Not to mention the pure relaxation of it, science has also found that men who used the sauna for about 20 minutes four to seven times a week had nearly half the risk of hypertension compared to those who used the sauna just once a week — even increasing the number of sessions from one to two or three times a week cut the risk of hypertension by 24 percent.

Just like high-intensity exercises, sauna bathing also increases nitric oxide (NO). In addition to being a potent vasodilator, NO also stimulates your brain, kills bacteria, defends against tumor growth, and helps boost muscle growth and strength, the latter of which is one of the explanations for how sauna bathing helps improve fitness and athletic performance.

There are several types of saunas to choose from and they all work in different ways:

  • Finnish wet sauna, in which water is tossed on hot coals, generating ample amounts of steam and humidity
  • Finnish dry sauna, oftentimes electric, which prevents the use of water
  • Far-infrared saunas
  • Near-infrared saunas (emitters and lamps)

The difference between an infrared sauna and the traditional Finnish-style saunas (whether wet or dry) is that the far-infrared sauna is able to heat you from the inside out. Compared to traditional saunas, athletes using infrared saunas also report greater recovery from strength and endurance training sessions.

If you've never taken a sauna before, start out by spending only four or five minutes in there and work your way up to somewhere between 15 to 30 minutes. You will lose important body electrolytes when you do a sauna so it is important to make sure you supplement with extra salt. Either salt your food more, or put a half-teaspoon of Himalayan salt in 2 ounces of water and flavor it with lemon or lime juice and use it as salt shot.

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