What is the science behind heat
By Amber Plante
What is the science behind heat?
We all complain about the hot summer swelter, but spending time in the heat can actually be beneficial for your health! Recent studies show that regular sauna use boosts your immune response, promotes cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health, and can even help treat psychological disorders such as depression. Sauna bathing is a special form of heat exposure that involves spending a short period of time, about 20-60 minutes, in exceptionally high environmental temperatures. The sauna itself is a wood-paneled room that is heated to 70-100 oC (158-212 oF). Regular heat exposure at these temperatures, known as hyperthermic conditioning, can actually produce some of the same physical benefits as regular exercise and can even be used as a way to train your body to withstand the stress of everyday life. In the sauna, you start to sweat, breath more rapidly, your heart rate increases, and your blood vessels dilate, just like they do during exercise. At the same time, your core temperature is increased and your body responds to these changes by generating heat shock proteins. These proteins are made in response to physical stress in order to repair damaged proteins and to signal for enhanced cell growth and natural growth hormone release. These protective proteins and increased blood flow allow injuries to heal faster, prevent future injury, and even treat chronic pain. Other benefits include increased muscle hypertrophy, protein synthesis, and improved insulin sensitivity. Keep in mind there are some risks of sauna use, such as dehydration and dizziness. You may want to check with your doctor if you have cardiovascular abnormalities since heat is form of physical stress. There are also documented benefits of sauna use for cardiovascular health, and may be used as a potential hypertension treatment. If you have the chance to give the sauna a try, at the very least you could get a relaxing break out of it!
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