A sauna is a climate controlled room that usually holds an average temperature of 172 degrees Fahrenheit. Normally, the walls and seating are made out of wood and the heat source is visible. There are several different types of saunas, wet, dry, smoke and steam. The most popular ones found at Camp Lejeune’s fitness centers are the dry saunas.

Although, it may seem borderline self-torture to sit in an overly heated room for 20 minutes or more, there are plenty of benefits that should motivate a person to embrace the heat.

Going into a sauna for an extended period of time raises the body’s core temperature, causes the sweat glands to intensely activate triggering a deep sweat.

Sweat is mostly comprised of water, however deep sweating in a sauna can reduce levels of zinc, copper, lead, and mercury which are common toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis.

Deep sweating is also good for the skin. Rinsing the epidermal layer of bacteria and flushing off the dead skin cells allows the skin to rejuvenate.

Another benefit is the increase of blood flow. This aids in the body’s natural healing process and helps promote muscle relaxation, reduces muscle tension and controls lactic acid build up. The heat can help the body release endorphins, the neurotransmitter which acts similar to morphine, which can temporarily relieve body aches.

According to The American Journal of Medicine, studies have shown that consistent sauna usage has cardiovascular benefits that may help lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension and improve function in patients with chronic congestive heart failure.

The lungs value the sauna’s heat just as much as the heart does. The American Journal of Medicine states, “Sauna bathing decreases pulmonary congestion and increases the vital capacity, tidal volume, minute ventilation, and forced expiratory volume of the lungs. Patients with asthma or chronic bronchitis report that sauna bathing improves their breathing. Twelve patients with obstructive pulmonary disease who took sauna as a part of their rehabilitation program also demonstrated improved lung function.”

Assisting the body in potentially becoming healthier is an essential quality of the sauna however, it can also be a place to relax the mind. The warm quiet space can provide as a stress reliever to some.

The body can benefit from sauna bathing, but it is important to use with caution.

Keep track of how long you have been in the sauna and make sure you hydrate before and after usage.