We are constantly searching for the best ways to improve health and wellness. We seek out the latest information on strength training, cardiovascular health, nutrition, sleep and anything that can help us enhance health and longevity. While there are a ton of modalities, supplements, and more “out there” biohacks to do this, it’s important to focus on the simple changes one can make first. Sauna is one of the easiest things you can do – and it comes with a myriad of benefits!
What if you could sit in a hot room for 20 minutes, a few times per week and lower all forms of mortality by 40%? Cardiovascular disease and cancer are the #1 and #2 killers, respectively, of people world-wide. If there was something easy – that feels amazing – and can lower your risk of these diseases and others such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, diabetes and more, wouldn’t it be worth it? As crazy as it sounds, sauna use can do just that! There has been study after study on the effects of sauna on health and longevity. One of the most well-known is the Finnish Sauna study which took 2,315 men between the ages of 42-60 and explored the association between sauna use and certain types of mortality. The findings were incredible:
- Death from cardiovascular disease was 50% less likely by the 20 year follow-up in men using the sauna 4-7 times per-week.
- The individuals who used the sauna 4-7 times per week also had a 40% reduction in all causes of mortality.
Why It Works
The research of sauna bathing is very robust and the science is pretty straightforward. When you add such high heat to your body it improves mobilization of lipids and a variety of metabolic processes. High heat causes a hormetic effect which triggers defense mechanisms in the body. These defense mechanisms help to repair cell damage and protect the body from future stressors, very similar to the effects of high intensity exercise. Two proteins that are stimulated with heat stress are Heat Shock Proteins (HSP) & FOXO3:
HSP proteins are present in all cells. They are responsible for cellular processes, including immune function, cell signaling and cell-cycle regulation. Under heat stress cells increase expression of HSP to stabilize unfolded proteins and repair or re-synthesize damaged cells.
FOXO3 proteins play an important role in healthy aging by increasing the production of genes that regulate DNA repair, tumor suppression, stem cell function, and immune function. FOX03 also stimulates autophagy (cleaning up of damaged cells).
One of our go-to scientists for all things health and longevity is Dr. Rhonda Patrick, PhD. She has been a strong advocate for sauna bathing for years. We credit her for much of our resources on the use of sauna. Her latest article is beyond thorough, with pages and pages of benefits, science, and over 100 cited references. If you have some time on your hands and would like more information, you can read her article here. Ben Greenfield also had a great article on sauna use titled Ten Scientifically Proven Reasons I Am Addicted To A Daily Sauna.
Benefits of Sauna Use
The list of benefits of sauna bathing seems almost endless! Here are ten of our favorites:
- Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease
- Neurogenesis/improved cognitive function
- Lowers fasting blood glucose levels
- Promotes growth hormone release
- Improved athletic performance (protein synthesis, increased endurance, assists in recovery)
- Reduces inflammation
- Improved immunity
- Decreases stress
- Improves sleep
Just adding a little hormesis (stress on the body) to create positive metabolic and cellular changes can make a huge impact on our health. The sauna is a no-brainer! Take advantage of the low hanging fruit to live a longer, healthier life.
*Disclaimer: The information in this blog is for informational purposes only. Please always consult your doctor before considering any new diet, supplementation, or other changes to your normal nutrition and exercise routine.