There was a particular moment when I finally decided to get myself a sauna.
Even though I have a garage gym, I had gotten a membership at a nearby 10GYM just so I could use its sauna. I had thought about buying a sauna for years, but before pulling the trigger on this relatively large purchase, I wanted to see if I would enjoy sauna-ing as much I imagined I would, and I figured paying $10 a month to run this experiment would be worth it.
I found I did get something out of my sauna sessions, but that was the problem. I liked it, but I liked it so much that I found I wanted more from the experience than I could access at the gym. And this became crystal clear when I walked into the sauna on one particular evening.
The place was packed to the hilt. Perhaps a dozen dudes were crowded into a not-so-large space. Dudes were squished together on the benches; dudes were sprawled out on the floor; dudes were blasting music from their smartphones. Just as soon as I walked in, I walked right back out. I went home and started to earnestly research purchasing a sauna for my home. Not long after, I became the owner of a Finnish-style wooden barrel, which I put together in my backyard.
A year later, I can say the sauna has been one of the best purchases, nay investments, I’ve ever made, with one of the highest ROIs. I’ve enjoyed it even more than I thought I would (and particularly appreciated it over a stressful year where many gym saunas closed all together). Indeed, my sauna has been helping save my body, mind, and spirit.
When I got my sauna, male friends and family members often expressed their excitement for me and their own envy, sharing how they too had long wanted a sauna and had been thinking about getting one for years.
If you fall into that category, below we highlight the research-backed benefits of regular heat exposure that perhaps will persuade you too to pull the trigger on a lifelong sauna dream, or, at the least, to join a gym that has a sauna; nearly all the benefits we’ll outline apply equally well to the non-personal variety, and are still worth pursuing, even if you have to squish in next to some strangers.
The Many Benefits of Sitting in a Sauna
Sauna is one of the world’s many hot bathing traditions. It originated in Finland but has close relatives in the Russian banya, the Turkish hammam, and the sweat lodge traditions of Native American tribes.
This kind of cultural ubiquity usually points to some veritable, time-tested benefits, and indeed, modern research has been confirming what many of the world’s peoples already knew for thousands of years: saunas can strengthen the body, calm the mind, and bolster the spirit.
Saunas Are De-Stressing & Meditative
Getting your sweat on in a sauna may not literally release toxins from the body, but it sure feels like it does. While mercury doesn’t drip out of your pores, your metaphorical stress does. It just feels dang cleansing.
Saunas offer a unique, almost paradoxical, sense of rejuvenation. They’re not relaxing in the traditional sense; in fact, the intense heat acts as a stressor on your body, and can get kind of uncomfortable. Yet it’s a discomfort that feels strangely pleasurable; the physical stress somehow alleviates your mental stress.
That’s partly because it releases a bunch of