IMPROVED MENTAL WELL-BEING
|Table of Contents|
|2. How heat therapy helps to improve your mental well-being|
2.1 Anxiety and stress
2.2 Depression and other related symptoms
2.3 Reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease
|3. Conclusion |
One of the most common reasons people give for why they use a sauna is mental relaxation. It is an opportunity to unwind and put your body into a state of meditative rest, whilst enjoying all the other health benefits that come with regular heat therapy.
But heat therapy does more for your mental well-being than just simply helping you to unwind.
As part of your body's natural response to 'heat stress' your brain will release its 'feel good chemicals' - serotonin, endorphins and dopamine. The longer term benefits of this are now starting to be understood, with many studies showing the positive impact heat therapy can have on:
- Anxiety and stress
- Depression and other related symptoms; and
- Reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease
How heat therapy helps to improve your mental well-being
Anxiety and stress
People often comment that using heat therapy like an infrared sauna helps to reduce their anxiety and stress levels. The reason for this is that heat therapy has been shown to increase your body's production of serotonin, endorphins and dopamine, whilst simultaneously reducing your body's level of cortisol (the stress hormone).
This was demonstrated in a clinical study from the Institute of Health Promotion & Research in Finland which looked at haemodynamic and hormonal changes in people after temporary heat exposure. The study analysed blood samples taken from participants and found that all participants hand an increase in beta-endorphin immunoreactivity whilst also having a decrease in cortisol.
This feeling of reduced stress and anxiety was also something shared by former Miss Universe Australia winner Rachel Finch, who made this post to Instagram.
View this post on Instagram
🤚🏻Today I feel anxious and overwhelmed. I felt the same yesterday too. Not much has changed in terms of lifestyle factors - I’ve been getting 8+ hours of sleep/ eating my normal healthy food/ moving my body/ stretching & meditating/ and spending time with my angels.. I know everything is wonderful in life but some days are just off and the hormonal activity in my body is crazy, I cant explain why... My heart is beating like crazy & I feel shaky. These days pop up and while they suck these are the things I like to do to help: • Book an infrared sauna session - the detoxification process is amazing & it lowers blood pressure. • Limit stimulants - I had my coffee this morning & that wasn’t a good idea. Stimulating ingredients like coffee & chocolate only add to an already firing adrenal system. • I breathe more. Slow, long, deep inhalations & exhalations. • Spend more time meditating. This is a cure for so much & a big reason it’s a main component on my program #bodybyfinch. • I’m more kind to myself. I leave anything of high stress to another day or if I really need to do it just take my time.. • I also use essential oils & regular acupuncture which are both so healing. If you ever experience this type of anxiety, regular or unexpected, know you’re not alone. No one is bulletproof & know that it will soon pass angel. ✨ www.bodybyfinch.com
- US National Library of Medicine - Haemodynamic and hormonal responses to heat exposure in a Finnish sauna bath
- US National Library of Medicine - Effects of saunas on psychological states
Depression and other related symptoms
The effect that heat therapy has on triggering the release of your body's 'feel good chemicals' is not just limited to anxiety and stress however. A study out of Kagoshima University Hospital in Japan looked at the effect of regular heat therapy on 28 patients who were mildly depressed with general fatigue, appetite loss, and mental complaints.
After completing five sessions per week for four weeks, the study found that:
"Four weeks after admission, somatic complaints, hunger, and relaxation scores significantly improved and mental complaints slightly improved... These findings suggest that repeated thermal (heat) therapy may be useful for mildly depressed patients..."
- US National Library of Medicine - Repeated thermal therapy diminishes appetite loss and subjective complaints in mildly depressed patients.
Reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease
One of the more remarkable findings to come out of the research into heat therapy is the effect it appears to have on the risk of developing Alzheimer's and other degenerative diseases.
This was demonstrated in the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) Study, conducted by the University of Eastern Finland, which has been running for over 35 years and has involved 2,682 participants. During this study is was shown that people who used the sauna regularly had:
- A 66 percent lower risk of developing dementia and a 65 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease; and
- People who used the sauna four to seven times per week were 77 percent less likely to develop psychotic disorders of any kind.
While you should always consult your doctor or health care professional when considering what is right for you, the studies referenced on this page indicate a compelling link between regular heat therapy and improved mental well-being.
The Heat Healer has been designed as a heat therapy device that offers all the same benefits of a typical infrared sauna, only experienced in the privacy and convenience of your own home.
If you have any questions, jump over to our contact us page and we will be happy to respond to you directly.