The sauna was originally invented in Finland and has been around for over 2,000 years. Usually, when something has stood the test of time it has some merit to it. However, I dismissed the sauna, believed it had no health benefits and didn't recommend it to my clients or friends. That all changed two years ago, when I came across an article from Dr. Rhonda Patrick's. The article discussed the health benefits of the sauna, stating  it can raise human growth hormone (HGH) levels, improve recovery time and even improve cognitive function. After reading the article I decided to do my own research. As usual, I fired up pubmed and went digging to find if the sauna is as good as everyone claims.

Cliff notes version: The sauna has plenty of benefits and should be used at least once a week. 

Have a great week everyone and make sure you include a 15 minute sauna session in it!

Two Main Benefits of the Sauna

1. Increases Human Growth Hormone up to 16 times

" Serum GH and prolactin in males exhibited 16- and 2.3-fold increases (P less than 0.01), respectively. In females serum prolactin rose over four-fold "

 Human growth hormone (hgh) has been called the fountain of youth for good reason, it is one of the most powerful hormones in your body. It is responsible for  protein production, fat utilization, and  insulin sensitivity. Basically, having adequate levels of HGH allows your body to build lean muscle and burn fat at a higher rate versus someone with lower levels of hgh. Have you ever wonder why it was so easy to lose weight when you were younger, or why it was so easy to recover from a hard workout?  Hgh is one of the main reasons why at a young age we can exercise for hours at a time and not wake up sore the next day. As you age, hgh slowly decreases over time, slowing down your metabolism and your ability to build lean muscle. Luckily, we can fight the aging process by using interventions like, diet, exercise and the sauna.
In one study, sauna bathing showed a 16 fold increase in male athletes who performed two 1-hour sessions for a week[1]. That same study showed a 2 fold increase in athletes who used the sauna 20 minutes twice a day for a week. 

So if you want to stay sexy for the rest of your life, it would be a good idea to use the sauna to aid in recovery and help your body maintain it's fountain of youth.

2.  Increased Blood Flow In Runners

"Relative to control, sauna bathing increased run time to exhaustion by 32%  "

    Yes, you read that correctly,  A Study showed that by using the sauna for 30 minutes 2x a week for 3 weeks post workout improved time until exhaustion by 32%[2]Even if you aren't an athlete this has massive implications. The reason the athletes time until exhaustion improved was due to an increase in blood flow. When your body has an increase in blood flow, it can shuttle glucose and free fatty acids faster to the working muscle i.e you can continue to exercise longer. Furthermore, the increased blood flow allows more blood to get to the heart, resulting in a more efficient heart. The greater the efficiency of your heart, the greater amount of work you can get done, hence why a low resting heart rate is so important.
     That might not mean anything to you, so let's simplify it and relate it you. Thin of it like this, if you can improve your time until exhaustion you can increase how many calories you burn per workout. When you burn more calories per workout you put yourself in a better position to be in a calorie deficit aka burn fat, look really sexy and be happy because you achieved your weight loss goal. 

To sum up,

The sauna has stood the test of time and has numerous health benefits. We have been using it for over two thousand years and our bodies have evolved to reap the benefits of heat exposure. When injured the sauna is a great alternative to exercise and is something that should be used on a weekly basis.  In my opinion, the sauna is one of the best tools you can use to improve overall health and performance; it is inexpensive, and backed by scientific studies.

Check out the video below to learn how the sauna improves you mentally and physically.