What are the Benefits of a Sauna: 11 Things that Might Surprise You

What are the Benefits of a Sauna? Saunas have been used for centuries. From Dry Saunas to Steam Rooms, from Finland to Japan, the whole idea is to make you sweat! Longevity, rejuvenated skin and hair, increased metabolism, reduced risk of stroke, and reduced risk of dementia are just a few things that are claimed as benefits of a sauna.

Finland and the Sauna

Around the world when people hear the word “sauna” they think of Finland. “Sauna” means “bathhouse” in Finnish. Sauna in short, is a sweat bath that heats up your body to make you sweat. The word “sauna” has been borrowed by the English-speaking people and many other languages as well.

The Finnish sauna: Peace of mind, body, and soul: a modern guide to sauna usage, planning, and building for full sauna enjoyment is a book written by John O. Virtanen. It is said that he was born in a sauna, in his native land of Finland.

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Finnish Saunas vs. Turkish or Russian Steam Baths

He writes that it is a “common mistake” to equate the Finnish sauna with Turkish or Russian steam baths. In an authentic Finnish sauna, the heat emanates from special stones and feels velvety soft to the skin. It is more penetrating than the heat in a cloud of steam. It is something that you must experience to fully appreciate the difference.

The Finns practiced slapping their skin with a vihta or vasta– a whisk of twigs and birch leaves – to increase circulation in the blood vessels and tone the skin. Today it is a common practice to use a washcloth, scrub brush, or loofa.

What are the Benefits of a Sauna after a Workout?

Many gyms are equipped with a sauna, yet they are often ignored. The basic idea is to sit and sweat for about 10 minutes.

There are a variety of ways this benefits your health and fitness. The intense heat increases the blood flow to your skin and causes blood vessels to dilate. This increases the heart rate and is similar in effect to a mild cardio exercise like walking.

The heat can reduce muscle and joint pain as you recover from your workout. Drink a large, cool glass of water after sweating out all that fluid. This will replenish the fluids lost in the sauna. I hope you still have plenty of water in your water bottle! A dehydrated body is asking for trouble.


After Your Sauna…

While sitting in a sauna, the sweat is pouring from your pores. After the pores have opened with sweating, you need to encourage the pores to close again by jumping into a cold lake, like the Finns… or a cool shower will do! As your pores tighten, your blood flows back to your organs enhancing your immune system.

If you have a sauna at home, it will be easier for you to relax and unwind without having to drive to a spa or gym. You will save the premium that is necessary to pay to use that facility. It may be worthwhile to have the opportunity for relaxation and pain relief right in your own home, where you can use it on a regular basis.

What are the Benefits of a Sauna?

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Facilities that offer sauna bathing often claim these health benefits:

#1 Increased Metabolism

According to the Harvard Medical School, the heat of a sauna can elevate your pulse rate by 30%, which means that your blood flow almost doubles. A dry sauna will speed up your metabolism. A higher metabolism is more efficient at burning calories.

#2 Weight Loss

The sauna can’t burn fat or melt belly fat, but it does boost your metabolism. Much actual weight loss attributed to the use of a sauna may be from sweating. That weight is regained when you drink more water to keep from dehydrating.

#3 Detoxification 

The lymphatic system serves a very important function. It helps remove toxic substances from the body. With the help of the heart, liver and kidneys, the body is detoxified.

#4 Pain Reduction and Stress Management

Few things are more relaxing or beneficial in pain reduction than heat therapy. Those with arthritis and muscle pain can relax as the heat therapy increases the diameter of the blood vessel and delivers more blood to every part of the body. It can help diminish pain and reduce stress as it promotes feelings of well-being.

#5 Anti-aging

Using the sauna regularly, improves the blood flow to your skin. This will aid in new skin growth. It should be able to remove the dead skin cells and invigorate your skin as it does the rest of your body as well.

#6 Skin and Hair Rejuvenation

Spending time in the sauna activates your “sebaceous glands” which secrete a compound call sebum. This is a natural moisturizer and keeps the skin flexible. The excessive amount of sweating done in the sauna, keeps the pores clean.

#7 Improved Cardiovascular Function

Increased Blood Circulation Some research has shown that high temperatures help the blood vessels to expand. This helps to improve circulation and lower blood pressure. Use the sauna with caution and consult with your doctor first.

#8 Lower Risk of Stroke

A long-range study with more than 1,600 Finnish men and women, over the course of several years, found that frequent sauna bathing (4 – 7 times a week) was connected to reduced risk of stroke.

#9 Reduced Risk of Dementia

A similar study of 2,315 Finnish men  found a lower risk of dementia with a more frequent use of the sauna.

#10 Improved Immune Function

Saunas are good for your immune system. The sauna cannot destroy certain viruses going around, but they can increase your white blood cell count. White blood cells are your defense in fighting infection and sickness.

#11 Relaxation and Improved Sleep

Saunas help you sleep better because their radiant warmth relaxes your muscles. The warmth of the sauna will quiet your mind and release tension in your body.

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Why You Need a Home Sauna

If you have a sauna at home, it will be easier for you to relax and unwind without having to drive to a spa or gym. You will also save the premium that is necessary to pay to use that facility. It may be worthwhile to have the opportunity for relaxation and pain relief right in your own home, where you can use it on a regular basis.

How Long Should You Stay in a Sauna?

It takes a while for your body to adjust to the high temperatures of the sauna.

  • It is advised that for your first session you should not stay in the sauna longer than 5 – 10 minutes at a time.
  • Once leaving the sauna you should cool your body down with a cool shower and a glass of cool water to re-hydrate your body.
  • After exercising, drink a large glass of water and wait at least 10 minutes before entering a sauna.
  • At Maximum, don’t’ use the sauna for more than about 15 minutes at a time.

As with all good things, there are some risk factors involved. Consult with your doctor before heading into the sauna.

Some Risk Factors Are:


The heat in a sauna is intense, which can result in low blood pressure. If you are feeling weak or light-headed, or noticeably uncomfortable in other way, leave the sauna right away and drink plenty of water to re-hydrate your body.

Elevated Body Temperature

To avoid overheating your body do not stay in the sauna for any excessive length of time – about 15 minutes maximum. Cool down with a cool shower and a cool glass of water when exiting the sauna.

What Questions Do You Have?

Is a Sauna Good for Weight Loss?

A sauna may help you burn some calories, but it is not effective as a true weight loss strategy.

Why do I Feel Sick after Using a Sauna?

When you step into a hot sauna, you may become overheated as your body temperature rises rapidly. As a result, you may feel dizzy and nauseous. If you are feeling unwell, leave the sauna and slowly drink a large glass of water. Seek medical attention if the symptoms persist.

Is an Infrared Sauna Good for You?

In general, infrared saunas are considered safe for most people. However, if you have a medical condition or an implanted medical device, you should consult with your doctor first. It is UV that is harmful, not infrared.

Can You Sweat Out Toxins?

While saunas have many benefits, claims that you can sweat out toxins are not backed up by science. Toxins such as mercury, alcohol, and most drugs are eliminated by your liver, kidneys, or intestines.

Sweat is mostly water with a small amount of salt, proteins, carbohydrates, and urea, says Dr. Charles Smith, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, family medicine physician. Sweat does not cleanse your body from toxins, he believes.

Are Saunas Good for Your Lungs?

Saunas can improve respiratory function. It can enhance lung capacity and function. A steam room can help clear out mucus that can make breathing difficult. Many people with asthma find warm air soothing however some people find that heat makes their asthma worse. It is important to know your personal trigger points.

Are Saunas Good for Wrinkles?

Saunas have the potential to temporarily relax the muscles and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Heavy sweating is healthy for your skin to cleanse impurities and make your skin less prone to acne, blackheads, and pimples.

Sauna Dos and Don’ts

  • Drink plenty of water. Drink at least one full glass of water before and after using a sauna to avoid dehydration.
  • Do not drink alcohol or use recreational drugs before, during, or after going in a sauna.
  • Do not use a sauna if you have high blood pressure. Consult with your medical practitioner first.
  • Do not use a sauna if you are ill.

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In Conclusion

Saunas have been used widely in the Finnish population for many centuries and are becoming more popular worldwide. They have many health benefits to enhance a better quality of life. As with anything good, there are some risks involved. If you have any health concerns, please consult with your doctor before using a sauna.

Please Leave a Comment

Do you use the sauna at a gym or other facility? Would you consider having a home sauna?

Disclaimer: If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. No content on this site should be substituted for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner. The information contained here is for informational purposes only. It is from my research and personal experience.

16 thoughts on “What are the Benefits of a Sauna: 11 Things that Might Surprise You”

  1. Haha thanks for the article my guy! Wow, I had no idea that saunas had this many benefits. I think my favorite benefit has to be the last one, a more relaxed and improved sleep. I often have trouble going to sleep, and even when I do, I still wake up in the middle of the night. I might have to try a sauna one of these days! Just one question though.. do you think hot showers have the same benefits? That’s the closest I’m getting to a sauna for a while XD

    • Hi Jongabriel, and thanks for stopping by with a comment. Somehow I don’t think a hot shower will have the benefits of a sauna. The Finnish have been using the sauna for centuries, and it has given them benefits that I think a lot of us in North America miss out on.

      Getting a good night’s sleep is a great idea. There are many health issues associated with being sleep-deprived. Too many electronic gadgets that modern America uses emit blue light which hamper our sleep. A sauna helps you wind down… Just think of the effect of jumping in a cold lake or rolling in the snow would have after 10-15 minutes in the heat of a sauna! All the best!

  2. Thanks a lot for sharing this amazing article, it is a really resourceful one and I’ve been able to gain a lot of things from it. If is a good thing to always take good care of your health, sauna is a very nice one and I’ve been able to experience it for a while. It’s nice of you to share this

    • Hi Uncle Bolt, and thanks for stopping by for a comment! There are many benefits to our health by using a sauna. In North America they are not so plentiful. Perhaps in time that will change, as people realize their benefits.

      All the best!

  3. Hello there, thank you so much for sharing this. this is a very awesome piece and a very detailed one. I’m really happy I came across this.  Reading about this article what are the benefits of a sauna 11 things that might surprise you sounds really interesting. I enjoyed reading this article. It was indeed informative and helpful 

    • Hi Charity and thanks for stopping by with a comment! I am glad you enjoyed the post. If we lived in Scandinavia we would be quite familiar with a sauna. Otherwise they are more limited to Spas and Gyms. Occasionally someone has a sauna in their own home. They have many health benefits that we should be more aware of!

      All the best!


  4. Wow, I truly am surprised after reading this post. I didn’t know that with saunas, I could get good improved sleep quality and I can also sweat out all the toxins in my body. I just saw it as a simple way to get relaxed. This is something that I should really get into. Do you think I’ll need am instructor??

    • Hi Aug, and thanks for stopping by with a comment! I am glad you enjoyed the post about saunas, and no, I don’t think you need an instructor to use one! 🙂

      Just a few things to keep in mind, Don’t use one when you are feeling ill or have a medical condition without first checking in with your doctor, and secondly: Only stay in one for 10 to at most 20 minutes than go out and cool off. Jump in a cold lake! lol or a cold shower! and drink plenty of water to replace the fluids you lost during your sweat.

      That’s it, and you are good to go! All the best as you enjoy the sauna!!   Zzzzzzz……   🙂

  5. Hi, I’ve just gone through this helpful article you’ve shared with us here about the benefits of Sauna: 11 things that might surprise you. Honestly, I didn’t know anything about Sauna and it’s even my first time to come across it. But, from the explanation you’ve clearly given here, I fully understand what you’re talking about and how important Sauna is. Anything that helps in keeping our bodies fit and healthy is always very important but I think I need to get this book about building for full Sauna enjoyment by John O. Virtanen. I guess there’s a lot to learn about Sauna. Thanks for sharing this helpful post, I’ll also be sharing it too.

    • Hi Kokontala, thanks for stopping by with a comment. The Finnish have this practice to increase and maintain their health. Living in a colder climate may have influenced them in using this as well. But the practice has gone world-wide and is found many places, especially in gyms and fitness centers. There are many benefits to your health when you use a sauna.

  6. Carolyn,

    I loved your post! I remember, quite a few years ago, going with a group of friends to the gym and sauna. We sat on wooden slats with heated stones. It was very hot, but wonderful. I didn’t know some of the benefits/cautions of using the sauna. For instance, lowering the risk of developing dementia/Alzheimer’s disease. I work with older adults living with dementia. Do you know if regular sauna use in middle age or later helps reduce dementia symptoms? 

    I’d absolutely love a home sauna setup for better immunity, lower risk of dementia, and skin health. 



    • Hi Tamara, Thanks for stopping by with a comment. Different cultures, like the Finnish, have used these things for so many lifespans that it is hard to say if they, themselves understood all the benefits. Since we can not change the past, we can only go forward and use the things we have available for our better health. We can live life to the fullest and enjoy the things available to us, like the sauna.

  7. Hi there?

    This is an exciting article. I never knew that a Sauna offered these amazing benefits to our bodies. Do you know I used to pass that sauna in the gym every day I visited the gym. This article has made me want to drive there and have a sauna treatment. If my skin, organs, and especially the heart and body processes benefit this much by visiting the sauna, I will make it a regular spot. I have found this article a great eye-opener, and I am grateful you shared it. I will forward it to my friends and let them appreciate the sauna too.

    Thank you for sharing,


    • Thanks, Sergej, I am glad you enjoyed the article and got valuable information from it. Feel free to share the info with others as well! All the best.


  8. I have used Sauna before and I love it. I try to used it as often as possible. I am aware of some of the benefits but you brought to my attention some new ones. 

    I believe there is so many unproven benefits affiliated with using a Sauna but Its about personal belief. What the mind thinks will be reality.

    Thank you for sharing this Educational post.

    • Thanks, Brian, for stopping by. There are a variety of countries that have used the sauna for many years and it has become part of their culture. Not everyone enjoys the heat of the sauna, and not everyone would like to jump into a cold lake afterwards.However, I know many who do enjoy this. Some medical doctors have used the contrast of heat and cold in promoting good health. All the best.


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