Saunas are essentially rooms with exceptionally high heat, designed to promote health in those who use them. The heat may be administered through a wood stove or an infrared heater or even an electric heater. The room is relatively sealed to contain the heat. At around 140 degrees Fahrenheit, temperatures in a dry sauna usually are lower than a steam sauna.
The high heat of a dry sauna sends the heart rate higher when you enter the room. This speeds the blood’s circulation through the body. This can help those with poorer circulation by getting the blood out to their arms, hands, legs and feet. According to Harvard Medical School, the pulse rate can increase by 30 percent when you enter a sauna. This means blood flow almost doubles.
A dry sauna will speed up your metabolism. This means your body burns more fat and you can lose weight. However, since most of the weight loss in saunas is due more to sweating and losing water, it is regained by drinking water, which you need to do to keep from dehydrating.
Stiffness may leave some of the joints through use of a dry sauna. Because the body’s flexibility increases in a sauna, as do blood vessels, dry sauna users may feel invigorated. This also means it can relieve sore muscles.
Since the heat in a dry sauna will cause you to sweat and open your pores, toxins can be drained from the body. However, according to Dr. Lawrence E. Gibson of the Mayo Clinic, there is no evidence of this. He admits, however, there isn’t much research available, particularly on the benefits of infrared saunas.
According to Harvard Medical School, saunas can produce a relaxed feeling for many users. This traditionally has been what saunas have been used for. Part of this is due to the fact that there is little else to do in a dry sauna but sit and enjoy it. To use this time and add to the relaxation effect, meditation is a good activity in the sauna.
Richard Nilsen writes poetry, fiction, features and news stories in upstate New York. He was an emergency mental-health consultant for 20 years and directed a mentoring agency for a decade. Nilsen is a black-fly control technician in the Adirondack Park, where he enjoys hiking, biking and boating.