If you’ve not yet experienced a good old dry sauna sesh, you’re missing out! Sheer enjoyment aside, dry saunas are actually hugely beneficial for the human body, in a multitude of different ways. We’re here to turn up the heat and share what we know for sure about dry sauna benefits!
In this article we discuss the following:
- What is a Dry Sauna?
- Dry Sauna Benefits for Weight Loss
- Dry Sauna Benefits for Bodybuilding
- Hot Dry Sauna Benefits
- Dry Sauna Benefits for Skin
- Wet vs Dry Sauna Benefits
- Infrared Dry Sauna Benefits
What is a Dry Sauna?
The inclusion of the word ‘dry’ is what can be misleading. When people refer to a dry sauna, they simply mean what we know as any conventional sauna experience; the one’s housed in rooms built out of wood, where people like to lounge in the nude.
The word ‘dry’ refers to the method used to heat the room to the necessary temperature. The alternative to a dry sauna is a wet or steam sauna, whereby water is used to steam the room up to a specific temperature. In a dry sauna, a high powered heater is used instead, and it radiates heat through to the wooden makeup of the space, thus allowing rapid heating and sustained temperatures.
The major difference between different sauna modalities is that there is far less humidity in a dry sauna (usually less than 20%). This means that it’s the heat itself doing the heavy lifting, and not the pressure of humidity thanks to steam and water.
Deniz EFE from Fitness Equipped has four main points that distinguish dry saunas from steam variations:
- Dry saunas can reach higher temperatures. Because there’s no water involved, the air in a dry sauna can get much hotter, making for a more intense sweating experience.
- Dry saunas are less harsh on the skin. Because there’s no steam, dry saunas are less likely to cause skin irritation. If you have sensitive skin, a dry sauna might be a better option for you.
- Dry saunas can be easier to breathe in. Again, because there’s no steam, the air in a dry sauna is going to be less humid and easier to breathe. If you have allergies or asthma, a dry sauna might be a better option.
- Dry saunas can be more comfortable. Some people simply find dry heat to be more comfortable than steamy heat. If you don’t like the feeling of being wet and sticky after a sauna session, a dry sauna might be right for you.
Dry saunas have a lot to offer in terms of health and wellness, and the benefits of such have only really been shared with the public in recent years, despite saunas having been around for decades!
Dry Sauna Benefits for Weight Loss
Imagine losing weight without moving a muscle… that’s one of the newfound benefits that dry saunas seem to offer; and once you understand the science of what is occurring in the body whilst in session, the results make a whole lot of sense.
Theola Tinny, CEO at VinPit, explains the process from a physiological level: “Sitting in a sauna is walking on a treadmill at a regular pace. Heat increases the heart pumping rate to circulate blood, hence keeping your heart healthy. Heat in the sauna also improves circulation, which helps in deep relaxation and stress relief. Daily sessions of basking in dry heat will help your mind relax resulting in less anxiety and better sleep,” says Theola.
“More than this, regular sauna sessions can benefit your overall skin health by making it firm and more elastic. A dry sauna also reduces skin irritation and inflammation. Harvard study shows that few people suffering from psoriasis experienced relief from itching after using the dry sauna. It is shown that regular saunas can regulate the appetite, boost metabolism and improve oxygen utilization, aiding in weight loss. However, it cannot be treated as a weight loss mechanism,” she adds.
In summary, dry sauna sessions can enhance, support and promote weight loss, but are not a direct route. It’s best to use a sauna in addition to a balanced diet, a structured exercise routine, and any other means you’ve chosen as part of your weight loss journey.
Dry Sauna Benefits for Bodybuilding
There’s a reason that saunas at gyms are always filled to the brim with bodybuilders and exercise enthusiasts. After heavy workouts, sauna sessions can lower recovery time quite significantly, as well as reduce any soreness or stiff muscular sensations.
This is due to the increased blood flow that being in the extreme temperatures offers. Jamila, owner of the lifestyle and college blog Just Jamila, expands on this for further clarity: “Though often thought of as a way to simply relax and sweat out impurities, dry saunas offer a variety of health benefits that range from improving circulation to alleviating pain. When you enter a dry sauna, your skin temperature can increase to over 40 degrees Celsuis, causing you to sweat profusely,” she says.
Jamila adds that this deep sweating cleanses your pores and helps rid your body of toxins. “The high heat also dilates blood vessels, improving circulation and relieving muscle tension. In addition, dry saunas can help to ease pain by reducing inflammation. For these reasons, dry saunas offer a number of potential health benefits that make them worth considering if you’re looking for a way to improve your well-being.”
Hot Dry Sauna Benefits
When pondering dry sauna benefits disadvantages, we find it necessary to look at this phenomenon from two perspectives; one being the body, and the other being the mind. Saunas have the ability to provide benefit to both, with some being physical and tangible, and others being more in the realm of metaphysics. If anyone understands both sectors, it’s Molly Milroy from the Sauna House in Asheville:
For the body
“As your body temperature increases, so does your blood plasma volume. This expansion dilates your blood vessels keeping your arteries soft, supple, and compliant. To prevent your core from overheating, more blood is directed to your limbs. Increased blood flow drives oxygen deeper into muscles and joint tissue which shortens the time it takes injuries to heal and increases the body’s ability to recover from athletic performance. It also soothes aches and chronic pain.”
For the mind
“Sauna sends richly oxygenated blood to the brain to improve cognitive functions. Regular sauna use reduces the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s and other forms of mental decay, potentially by reducing inflammation and the inflammation markers linked to these specific illnesses. Rounds of sauna use also provide you with a technology free meditative space. Here you can quiet the mind, soothe anxiety, and stabilize your mood,” says Molly.
Sauna House is a Nordic Style bathhouse in Asheville, NC, that’s good for the planet and everyone on it! Sauna House provides the opportunity for people to come together to cleanse their body and mind in a social, but calming environment. Sauna House offers a variety of incredible bathing experiences to choose from. Their facility includes a cedar dry sauna, an aspen wood wet sauna, private infrared saunas, massages, a cold plunge, and cold showers. Bathers can also purchase sauna heaters, panel-built rooms, and custom-cut sauna rooms from their website.
Dry Sauna Benefits for Skin
We love a good skin detox, and this is one of the major benefits of any dry sauna experience. Umair Syed shares this sentiment, and explains how a sauna stimulates the flow of biological fluids and raises your core body temperature. “Detoxification is the goal. Getting rid of disgusting things by sweating them out is an effective method. Basically, it’s an anti-contamination process. When you sweat, you swiftly remove any dirt from your body.”
According to Umair, it’s a good idea to engage in meditation and contemplation during your sauna detox session. “Saunas are a great place for me to meditate because of their soothing heat. Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are less likely as a result. As a result, stress levels are reduced.”
A word of warning though: don’t go overboard with it! “Take it easy in the sauna, and don’t overdo it with the heat or time you’re spending there. Getting plenty of liquids is a good idea, and I don’t mean getting plastered but rather hydrating a lot. If you’re going to the sauna, don’t drink anything more potent than a light beer,” adds Umair.
Wet vs Dry Sauna Benefits
One look through the dry sauna benefits Reddit, and you’ll find all of the above mentioned countless times by people all around the world. In compassion, a wet sauna offers some of the same benefits, as well as a few unique ones that dry saunas do not.
Included in this is the ability to clear out congestion, thanks to the presence of water vapor in the air. A dry sauna can’t offer this benefit as it pulls moisture from the air as opposed to adding to it. One also burns more calories in a wet sauna as opposed to a dry one.
That said, to reap the benefits of any sauna one should do things properly. Max Person, founder of Maxwell Person, offered us a step by step guide on how to make the most out of any sauna session. According to him, one study showed that just 19 min, 5 times a week can decrease all causes of mortality by up to 42% percent. To get the most out of a sauna experience, follow his step by step guide:
- Pre Sauna
Exfoliate skin: Toxins are going to be removed through your skin. By cleansing it before you get in the sauna you will allow toxins to flow freely out of your skin.
Get your lymph moving:
- Walk, run, bounce for 20-30 mins before the sauna. This will greatly increase your detox experience
- Dry Brush: dry brushing is another good way to get lymph moving
Take a binder: This will grab all the toxins deposited in your digestive tract.
- During the sauna
Consume minerals: Use an electrolyte powder in your water.
Try meditative breathing: It’s hard for your body to detox when it is stressed. Relax it through breathing exercises.
Stretch: It’s not good to stretch while cold, however, when your muscles are warmed up you will be able to deeply stretch these muscles reducing structural stress on the body.
- Post Sauna
Cold shower: This will close the pores and prevent toxins from being reabsorbed on the skin.
Rehydrate: Very important to replace the minerals lost in sweat.
Infrared Dry Sauna Benefits
Infrared saunas are different forms of dry saunas, and make use of infrared heaters in order to generate the extreme temperatures. Unlike regular dry saunas, these units don’t actually heat the air around you, but rather send out electromagnetic radiation that simply makes it feel like the air is heated.
For the most part, the benefits that an infrared sauna can offer are largely the same as that of any other dry or wet sauna, however there is the addition of improved sleep patterns with this one. A small study, consisting of just 10 people, found that those suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome all benefited from using an infrared sauna as part of their targeted treatment plans.
Understandably, infrared sauna technology is still very new to the wellness scene, and lengthy observation still needs to go underway in order to conclude the exact benefits and disadvantages. If you’re considering using an infrared sauna, keep these pointers in mind:
- If you’ve consumed alcohol in the last few hours, avoid infrared saunas
- Do not enter an infrared sauna if you have a fever, or have just recovered from a fever
- Drink a lot of water before, during and after the infrared sauna experience — you’re going to sweat A LOT
- Heat stroke and dehydration are major risks associated to infrared saunas — always be mindful when putting your body through this type of sauna experience
- If you have existing heart problems or blood pressure issues, you’ll need to go-ahead from your doctor before making use of an infrared sauna