New Study Shows Sauna Provides Many of the Same Benefits as Strenuous Exercise
Scientific research published in the Journal of Athletic Training confirms that elevated body temperatures during relaxed sauna sessions provide some of the same health benefits as body heating during strenuous exercise. The study was conducted by a team led by Dr. Richard Shields, chair of the physical therapy and rehabilitation science program at the University of Iowa.
Shields, who has conducted research for more than 20 years, noticed positive changes in the blood of quadriplegics when their core body temperature increased, even though they were not exercising. He theorized that body heating by regular sauna use could simulate many of the physical benefits that athletes receive from intense workouts that raise their body temperature, including cardiovascular, hormonal, and interactions of protein outside of the blood cells.
The study involved 25 healthy people, 13 men and 12 women in their early 20s, who sat in a heat stress chamber for 30 minutes at a time. On some days, the temperature was raised to about 163°F, and on others the chamber was not heated, remaining at about 79°F. No physiological changes were observed when the chamber was not heated. When it was heated, measured body temperature and heart rate increased, and blood pressure decreased. Researchers also collected blood samples from seven of the men and six of the women before and after each session. Levels of the hormone and neurotransmitter norepinephrine, involved in concentration, as well as prolactin, an important protein, were increased after sessions in the heated chamber.
“We found that whole-body heat stress triggers some of the physiologic responses observed with exercise,” the researchers concluded. “Future studies are necessary to investigate whether carefully prescribed heat stress constitutes a method to augment or supplement exercise.”
The study focused on finding ways for people who cannot exercise due to such problems as osteoarthritis, obesity, and spinal cord injury to gain the benefits of exercise that result from heat stress~i.e. sauna bathing. The results demonstrate that raising your body temperture in a sauna session can have positive health effects for the well and chronically ill.
Many of the benefits of strenuous exercise with little or no stress! What are you waiting for?