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Saunas vs. COVID-19: Is There a Correlation?

By Stephanie Chabot May 06, 2020

As we surpass two months of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are wondering what they can do to boost their immune systems. We’ve all been social distancing, wearing our masks and gloves, washing our hands diligently, and cleaning and sanitizing thoroughly—but what extra steps can we take to ensure our health and safety?

There is no cure or preventative measure for coronavirus yet, but you might have heard about the potential benefits of heat and sauna use in relation to the disease. So, the real question:

Does sauna use have a direct impact on COVID-19? 

The short answer is no, there is no evidence that sauna use can prevent or cure the coronavirus.

But there must be a reason saunas have been used for decades and believed to be beneficial to our health, right? 

Yes, and a growing body of evidence suggests that regular sauna use can help in areas like cardiovascular health and immune strength. Below, we’re diving into a few of these benefits.

Potential Sauna Health Benefits

Research has found that frequent sauna use has the potential to provide many positive health effects that could help you not only fight off illnesses but enjoy a better and longer life down the road.

Cardiovascular Health

A strong heart is vital to keeping your body functioning at its peak and fighting off illnesses like coronavirus!

Frequent sauna baths could have similar effects to those of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical exercise. A long-term study of middle-aged Finnish men found those who spent time in a sauna 2-3 days a week saw a 23% reduced risk for a fatal heart disease or episode. This benefit increased for men who used it even more frequently.

“Sauna bathing leads to a significant increase in heart rate and reduction in total vascular resistance, thereby decreasing blood pressure,” Dr. Ernst van der Wall, chief of cardiology at the Netherlands Leiden University Medical Center, said. 

One Japanese study reported that people who spent 15 minutes a day for two weeks in an infrared sauna enjoyed a significant decrease in blood pressure, compared to a control group who spent the same amount of time in a “room-temperature” space. Further research has shown that time spent in an infrared sauna could help:

  • Even out irregular heartbeats
  • Improve scores on physical fitness tests
  • Boost endothelial function in the heart’s vessels

Pulmonary Health

It has been found that COVID-19 can cause lung complications like pneumonia and, in the most severe cases, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Sepsis is another potential complication of the virus and can cause lasting harm to the lungs and other organs.

That said, it certainly won’t hurt to focus on the health of your lungs and airways at this time. According to Dr. Rhonda Patrick, regular sauna use has been:

  • Associated with up to a 40% reduced risk of pneumonia
  • Shown to help other viral infections like the common cold
  • Shown to help prevent and treat chronic pulmonary obstructive disorder (COPD)

Which leads to the next suggested health benefit…

Immune System 

Dr. Patrick also notes that sauna use activates heat shock proteins (HSPs), a large, highly conserved family of proteins present in all cells. HSPs play important roles in many processes, including immune function, cell signaling, and cell-cycle regulation. 

HSPs have also been shown to activate the innate immune response to help inactive viruses. This leads to an increase in white blood cell numbers and neutrophil counts, both of which are essential players in the immune response. 

Pain Management

When you suffer from chronic pain, it disrupts your everyday life in many ways and can take a toll on your overall physical and mental health.

In one study with a group of 46 chronic pain sufferers, those who spent time each day in a sauna for four weeks enjoyed a 54% improvement in sleep quality. Another study on patients diagnosed with chronic tension headaches reported a 44% reduction in headache intensity within six weeks of the sauna treatment.

Chronic pain hinders your ability to truly take care of yourself. And as we all know, part of maintaining a strong immune system includes getting consistent, quality sleep.

Why Infrared Saunas?

Evidence suggests that infrared saunas could be particularly effective when it comes to these health benefits. This form of heat warms your body directly and is very safe.

Infrared also penetrates the body more deeply than warmed air. This means it raises your core body temperature and produces a better sweat at a lower temperature than heat from traditional saunas. Plus, raising the core body temperature is essential to triggering those HSPs and activating the immune system. There was even a NASA study that showed that near-infrared therapy promotes cell health and tissue growth.

There is no treatment for the COVID-19 and no evidence that using a sauna has a direct impact on the illness. There is, however, plenty of evidence suggesting that infrared sauna use could have many other health benefits. By taking natural measures to strengthen your body’s cardiovascular, immune, and pulmonary systems, you can better equip your body to combat any disease.

If you have any concerns or preexisting health conditions, consult your doctor prior to using a sauna. If you are ready to improve your health and well-being, shop our full selection or contact a USA Health & Wellness sauna specialist at 207-619-4291 today! We will be happy to help you find the perfect sauna for your health and lifestyle needs.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5941775/

https://time.com/4481947/infrared-sauna-benefits-healthy/

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/what-coronavirus-does-to-the-lungs

https://www.foundmyfitness.com/topics/sauna#health-benefits-associated-with-sauna-use

About the Author

Stephanie Chabot owns Chabot Creative and offers copywriting and content marketing services. She crafts hardworking content to help brands boost their awareness and conversions. With a background in marketing and SEO writing, she understands what it takes to craft informative and optimized copy. Visit Stephanie at ChabotCreative.com or follow her on Instagram @chabotcreative to learn more about how she can level up your business's content marketing strategy.


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