We are all well aware of the physical and mental benefits of exercise. Starting a regular workout routine is one of the most the most effective ways to improve immunity, reduce stress, and lower the risk of ailments like diabetes, stroke, heart disease, adrenal fatigue, and even depression.
The use of a sauna, however, is often viewed in a different light. Rather than being seen as a therapy that is beneficial to one’s physical well being, a session in the sauna is sometimes regarded as more of a relaxation aid or spa treatment. However, recent studies have shown that saunas may provide even more benefits to our health than we first thought. And they might even help to undo some of the physical stress caused by exercising too much.
Researchers have discovered that sauna does not only relieve emotional stress. A sauna session can also reduce what is known as oxidative stress, helping to restore balance within the body after a strenuous workout. All exercise produces some kind of oxidative stress, and at low levels it is probably good for us. Too much of it, though, can contribute to premature aging, cancer, dementia, and a range of other conditions.
What is ‘oxidative stress’? Very simply, it describes what happens when the body begins to produce free radicals (uncharged molecules that do not have a paired valency electron) at such a rate that counteracting antioxidants cannot be produced at a sufficient rate to neutralize them. Physical exercise is one thing that is guaranteed to produce some level of oxidative stress.
Research published in the Scandinavian Journal of Clinical & Laboratory Investigation shows that a Finnish sauna directly after intensive exercise significantly reduces the presence of oxidative stress within the body. The study, titled ‘The effect of a single Finnish sauna bath after aerobic exercise on the oxidative status in healthy men’, examined the effect of a sauna session after half an hour of aerobic exercise. Forty minutes after finishing their exercise, the sauna helped to relieve the buildup of oxidative stress at a much quicker rate than the body would otherwise have been able to achieve.
It stands to reason that this powerful detoxing effect will be of use to anyone undergoing significant physical and emotional stress, and in whom this stress has contributed to adrenal fatigue. So, the next time you find yourself with the opportunity to visit a sauna, remember that you are doing yourself real physical good as well as relaxing your mind!
For more ideas on how to reduce your stress levels , check out The Adrenal Fatigue Solution, a comprehensive guide to recovering from adrenal fatigue that I wrote with Dr Eric Wood.