Sunday, September 18, 2016

[SELF CARE SUNDAY] How Sauna Sessions Promote Longevity & Incredible Skin

Last year, I went on a "self-care spree" where I experimented with several rituals meant to nurture the body.  Of all of my experiences, my favorite (by far) was the infrared sauna.  My local gym has a sauna as one of its amenities and I enjoyed spending 10-15 minutes getting in a good sweat after a workout.  Then, one day, I eavesdropped on a conversation a fellow gym member who boasted about her sauna experience.

She told the other sauna-goer that she came to the gym solely to utilize the sauna.  She then described her chronic back pain & spinal issues.  According to her, using the sauna daily was the only thing that alleviated her pain. It was at that point that I realized how beneficial the sauna experience could be.

That day, I went home and did some research.  That's when I stumbled upon the infrared sauna.  This version was said to be far superior to traditional saunas.  Instead of heating the room.  Infrared heat raises our internal body temperatures using infrared rays.  Far infrared rays stimulate the water molecules in our body thus causing cleansing at the cellular level. Infrared powerfully stimulates our internal circulation. This has a much greater detox potential than a conventional sauna.  In one video, the guy claimed that traditional saunas can detox the body as much as 3% versus a 17% detox with infrared.

Once I learned of the wonders of infrared, I was sold.  Immediately I sought out to find a way to experience it.  It didn't take long before I found several local establishments that offered sauna sessions.  After my very first appointment, I was hooked.  The difference between what I experienced in the normal sauna versus infrared was like night and day.

First off, the amount of sweating was much more intense.  Secondly, it was still quite comfortable, thirdly, my sense of well-being seemed to increase and, I slept like a baby that night.   Beyond the immediate impact, there also seems to be some longevity benefits to using infrared saunas on a regular basis. A study concluded that men who use saunas multiple times a week reduced their rate of heart disease related death.  When you're sweating in a sauna, your heart works harder due to the increase circulation.  With regular sauna use, you are promoting a stronger heart (similar to engaging  in regular exercise).

Also, heat stress caused by saunas activate genes that stimulate heat shock proteins.  Heat shock proteins help the body to eliminate free radicals and repair damaged proteins.  Scientists have discovered that subjecting flies to heat conditioning extended their lifespan by up to 15%.  Centenarians (people who live up to 100 years or older) typically have a genetic disposition towards producing more heat shock proteins.   Another longevity gene, called FOX03 can also triggered by heat exposure from regular sauna usage.  I won't bore you with all the scientific stuff. Just know that your body benefits, on multiple levels, from a heat induced sweat session.

And, I haven't even talked about all the external beauty benefits.  In my opinion, sauna usage is probably one of the most powerful things you can do to promote glowing skin.  When I first purchased an at home unit, my greatest fear is heat damage to my hair.   Traditional saunas dried my hair out if I utilized them too often.  My infrared sauna did no such thing.  If I did a sauna session with pre-poo, I noticed that my hair felt more deeply conditioned.  So, in my experience, the infrared sauna didn't impact my hair negatively but it did benefit my hair on wash day.

Over the summer, I rarely used my sauna. But now that the temperature is heading back down, I'm ready to get back to regular sessions again.  Even if you aren't ready to purchase your own at home sauna, I recommend you treat yourself to a round of sessions as a gift to you.  In my opinion, the epitome of self-care is anything that benefits the body both inside and out.  The sauna is probably one of the most healthy things you can do for yourself.  You deserve to reap all the wonderful benefits.




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