A Direct Exercise Comparison
A recent study published in 2019, in Complementary Therapies in Medicine journal, compared participants’ cardiovascular effects in a sauna and on an exercise bike. Researchers concluded the increase in heart rate and blood pressure were similar for a 25-minute sauna session and a dynamic exercise test (a short, moderate workout).3
“A sauna session is a physical strain. Its long-term positive effects are comparable to sports activities,” states the report. The study focused on the benefits to the heart and cardiovascular system rather than on weight loss or muscle development types of exercise.
The study included 19 healthy adult volunteers and examined the reaction of blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) after one intense traditional sauna application. Comparing BP and HR in a sauna session with a dynamic exercise test, sauna bathing was equivalent to a moderate physical exercise load of about 60-100 watts.
Research about the benefits of sauna therapy for the heart began in Japan, where a type of therapy called “waon” was having a known positive effect.4 In fact, according to renowned integrative cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn, the data suggests that saunaing may be one of the most important health habits to prevent and reverse heart disease. After treatments with waon therapy, people demonstrate a greater ability to walk4, whether limited by heart or leg vascular issues.
In waon therapy (from the Japanese words “wa” for “soothing” and “on” for “warmth”), heart patients sit in an infrared sauna set at 60° C (140° F) for 15 minutes, followed by resting outside the sauna for 30 minutes, wrapped in towels.
Research studies of heart patients who receive this soothing warmth therapy have measured healthier arteries. Dr. Kahn explains that waon therapy has been shown to improve function of endothelial cells that line every artery in the body resulting in better health and functionality.
According to Dr. Kahn, this type of infrared therapy may save lives. In a compelling study of 129 patients with bad heart problems, patients treated with waon therapy at least two times a week were compared to similar patients who did not get the therapy. Over five years of follow-up, the rates of re-hospitalization and death were half in the waon-treated patients compared to the others.5
In a 2015 study published in the International Heart Journal, waon infrared sauna therapy improved exercise capacity, quality of life, and mental capacity in patients with advanced heart failure.6
Sit Yourself Down in a Sauna and Get Your Heart Moving
It sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t. Research overwhelmingly supports the fact that passive cardio workouts are possible in a sauna and offer hope for getting the benefits of cardio exercise your body needs.
Sit back and relax while your heart gets pumping. Take the next step toward your health goals, no matter where you’re starting. You can feel better!