Key Benefits of Sauna Bathing

Key Benefits of Sauna Bathing
Photo by HUUM / Unsplash

The sauna, also known as, sauna bathing has been popular for thousands of years. The first saunas were man made caves built for survival that functioned as kitchens, washrooms, and hospitals used during the harsh winters. Sauna bathing is an ancient practice that is used for the purposes of healing, pleasure, wellness, relaxation, and detoxification. Today, modern saunas come in multiple different styles, where people are able to experience high temperatures for a short period of time to boost longevity and reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Sauna Benefits

The sauna has beneficial mental, physical, and emotional effects. It greatly reduces the risk of sudden cardiac death and the development of neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. The sauna also promotes radiant glowing skin, boosts mood, induces restful sleep, balances blood sugar, and decreases the stress hormone, cortisol. Heat exposure in the sauna passively mimics the physiological effects of exercise.

Going to the sauna for 15-30 minutes, 2-3 times, up to 7 times per week promotes optimal cardiovascular health. Check with your healthcare provider before developing a sauna practice. Start with one minute sessions to build up your cardiovascular fitness. Top health benefits of the sauna include hormesis, heat shock protein activation, optimal cardiovascular health, and improved brain and mental health.


Hormesis is an adaptive response of cells and organisms to a moderate or intermittent stress. It is a short dose of pressure or biological stress followed by a period of recovery to push the body to be more adaptive. Hormesis stimulates the body’s innate stress response and helps balance the autonomic nervous system.

High heat exposure creates hormetic stress on the body by mimicking the physiological effects of exercise. This causes an increased core temperature and heart rate, sweating, blood redistribution, improved vascular compliance, balanced resting blood pressure, and activation of DNA repair longevity pathways.

Heat Shock Proteins Activation

Another key benefit of the sauna is the activation of heat shock proteins (HSP). HSP are proteins that are found inside all cells in the body and are a protective adaptive response to heat exposure stress. They play important roles in cellular signaling, immune function, and homeostasis. HSP also slow down muscle atrophy and boost longevity.

Activation of heat shock proteins, stabilizes unfolded proteins and repairs cell structures of damaged proteins, which prevents the build-up of dysfunctional proteins that can form beta-amyloid and cholesterol plaques found in neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. This prevention of damaged protein buildup is essential because this allows for smoother glymphatic activity and flushing out of toxins in the brain.

Promotes Optimal Cardiovascular Health

Regular sauna bathing promotes optimal cardiovascular health. It reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and mortality related to it, and reduces sudden cardiac death. Repeated exposure to the sauna helps stabilize resting blood pressure, improves left ventricle function, and boosts endothelial function. Arterial dilation and compliance is also increased leading to strong, flexible blood vessels.

The sauna boosts blood flow, which promotes detoxification and flushing out of environmental toxins and heavy metals. Men who sauna 2-3 times per week have a 22% less chance of sudden cardiac death and men who sauna 4-7 times a week have a 48% less chance of experiencing sudden cardiac death.

Reduced Risk of Neurodegenerative Disease

The sauna is also great for overall brain health. Sweating releases endorphins and boost mode causing a mild happy, euphoric feeling after going to the sauna, which boosts mental health. Going to the sauna stimulates the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BNDF), which promotes neurogenesis, growth of new brain cells. It also activates neuroplasticity- the formation of new neural connections and helps heal previous traumas, anxiety, and depression.

The sauna regulates and balances hormones. Cortisol decreases, growth hormone increases, and serotonin and dopamine are released. This hormone balance leads to better sleep, a normal stress response, and optimal blood sugar regulation. One of the most effective benefits of sauna bathing is it prevents the buildup of proteins and plaque in the brain, decreasing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, like dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Final Thoughts

Sauna bathing and the use of saunas has been around for thousands of years. Over the centuries, the sauna has gained a lot of popularity due to its multiple health benefits. Key benefits of sauna bathing include stimulation of hormesis and heat shock proteins, optimal cardiovascular health, and the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases. Regular sauna use has been proven to have anti-aging effects, reduce sudden cardiac death, increase longevity, and boost brain and mental health.

The sauna is generally safe and low risk; however, it is not safe for everyone so it is important to check with your healthcare provider before starting a sauna practice. Start slow when exposing yourself to high temperatures to build up your tolerance and fitness. Find out if the sauna is right for you and get sweating. Take charge of your own health today.

Thank you for reading.


This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.