Hitting the gym to get fit maybe an outdated practice as many individuals are now in love with the sauna to become fitter and grow healthy. Sweating has been the golden rule since olden days believed to shower good health and used for religious ceremonies too. Many countries have their own way of using heat for relaxation and saunas have been in practice for over thousands of years in Finland. Basically, a Finnish sauna is extremely dry, humidity is low and the dry heat generated by the temperature control has profound effects on the human body. The individual sitting inside the sauna room starts to sweat almost immediately after the session starts, skin temperature soars to about 104˚ in a few minutes. Body temperature too rises (but slowly) but it’s the heart’s response to heat that’s more important. Pulse rate increases by 30% and the amount of blood pumped by the heart almost doubles every minute. Most of the excess blood pumped is directed at the skin and away from the internal organs and everything together causes a rise and fall in blood pressure. Earlier it was believed that sauna sessions cause a fall in BP levels and people with heart problems or BP issues are advised against sauna sessions as much further dips in blood pressure can result in fainting.
One thing that’s important is to understand the difference between the acute effects of a sauna session and the effects that are visible during the rest period after the sauna session. One group of scientists decided to note the immediate effects of sauna use on the cardiovascular system. 19 participants were recruited for the study and all of them were exposed to 25 minutes of sauna session while having their blood pressure and heart rate checked. BP and heart rate rose immediately during the sauna visit and dropped below baseline levels that were seen before the start of the sauna session.
The same participants were also requested to undertake a short exercise program on an exercise bike during which each of their blood pressure and heart rates were measured. Comparing the numbers, the researchers found that the participants’ blood pressure and heart rate levels measured during exercising were almost same to the measurements that were noted down during the sauna session. This made them conclude that sauna sessions did pose a burden to the body of an individual. Hence, saunas can be used by those who can tolerate certain amount of stress without feeling much discomfort and those with blood pressure must be cautious as their blood pressure levels might drop further below the levels that were seen before getting into the sauna.
We do have previous studies showing that sauna sessions do have effective benefits over the body in the form of lower blood pressure, decreased risk of heart disease and better well-being which are all assumed to be due to the increase in blood flow and heart rate that happens during the session. Sauna is indeed physical strain over the body and the sweating too is heavy. But if you think that sitting inside a sauna is going to help you lose weight please don’t come to hasty conclusions. The sweating is healthy but it’s not good enough for weight loss as there is no muscle activity. In fact, it is advisable to rehydrate after a sauna session to replenish lost liquid stores of your body. For more details about sauna, its pros and cons, who can use it, who are the people advised to avoid it and ultimately, what would be the effect on those undergoing the session please visit www.firsteatright.com.
While positive effects are indeed true it is always better to consult a physician before hitting the sauna to ensure that it’s alright for your body to experience the high temperature and the dryness that goes with the session. Also, nothing can substitute the benefits of exercising. Don’t forego physical activity to involve yourself in a sauna tub but only take it alongside exercise to reap benefits.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
+91 7846 800 800
Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.