A new study found that children on the threshold of obesity or overweight in the first two years of life had lower perceptual reasoning and working memory scores than lean children when tested at ages five and eight. The study also indicated that IQ scores may be lower for higher-weight children.
Studies show that too much sitting, like smoking, increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and premature death. Researchers found sedentary behavior is linked to thinning in regions of the brain that are critical to memory formation.
While not exactly a new thing, using the sauna has been shown somewhat recently to have tremendous health benefits. More and more quality research is coming out demonstrating that regular sauna use is so beneficial for people in so many ways.
Then and Now
Sauna is a Finnish word referring to the traditional Finnish bath and/or bathhouse itself. A sauna as thought of today, is originated in Finland. A modern sauna is usually a simple, wooden room, with varying heat sources in the center. The most common heat source is an electric heater, filled with rocks. The way a sauna achieves such high temperatures without harming people is by controlling the humidity and air flow.The lower humidity in saunas compared to steam rooms is what allows for higher temperatures.
There are many benefits of regular sauna use. Let’s dive right in.
Heat causes increased blood flow
Oxygenation of cells, organs, and tissue
Metabolic waste flushing
Improved blood pressure
Elevated heart rate
Elevated heart rate: As mentioned above a sauna session will elevate heart rate to a level similar to medium intensity exercise
Increased levels of IGF-1: Some studies have shown increases by as much as 200%-330%! IGF-1 is a hormone that causes anabolism (muscle growth), and recovery from exercise. Both leading to increased muscle growth
Increased insulin sensitivity: Great for overall health and muscle growth
Increase in heat shock proteins(HSP): Also aids in muscle growth by preventing catabolism (muscle breakdown) and increasing MPS (muscle protein synthesis)
Reduces DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)
48% lower risk of heart disease
Increased insulin sensitivity: Insulin resistance/poor insulin sensitivity is a common factor in many metabolic disorders
Increase in FOXO3: Gene associated with longevity and protects against DNA damage
Heart rate increase: Regular elevation of heart rate increases heart health
Heat Shock Proteins: HSP activate FOXO3 which help to prevent heart, brain, and metabolic disorders. HSP also increase lifespan and are associated with centenarians
Lower levels of stress
Increases in attention and memory
Myelin growth: Myelin is the sheath around nerve cells facilitating signal transmission
Neurogenesis: Growth of new brain cells
24% or 40% (depending on frequency) reduction in all cause mortality
27% or 50% (depending on frequency) reduction in cardiovascular death
Up to 65% reduction in Alzheimer’s and/or dementia (depending on frequency)
As this technology is somewhat new, less data is available. What has been observed thus far is that full spectrum ( as opposed to only mid or near spectrum) offers the most benefits. Infrared saunas are preferred more and more as there is less heat, so they are more bearable to some. Similar to more traditional saunas, infrared saunas can provide the following benefits:
Lowered blood pressure
Similar circulation benefits
How Much and How Often
Is probably what you want to know now. Most of the data shows that benefits start at a frequency of 2-3 sessions a week, but more robust benefits are observed at a frequency of 4-7 sessions per week. As far as duration and temperature, that hasn’t been determined exactly, but a sweet spot seems to be about 174 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes.
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