Real Talk: What Do Saunas Really Do?

Elinor Block
PHOTO:

Wildfox

Question: what do saunas actually do? Sure, they make you sweat but what are the health benefits? As a starting point it's worth noting that saunas originated in Finland, and a study from 2015, conducted for 20 years, found that the more saunas Finnish men took per week, the longer they lived. While women weren't included in this study, the simple fact that Finland has one of the highest life expectancies in the world can't be a coincidence.

Before I started delving into the science behind sauna benefits, I wanted to know more about the origins of the practice. So I turned to a couple of Finnish friends who gave me an insight into why it's such an important part of the culture. 

First off, I wanted to know if all Finnish people take saunas, and the answer from both was a definite yes. "There is no one in Finland who dislikes saunas," I was told. I also wanted to know how often people took them again both said that it was at least once per week. Interestingly enough, both friends talked about how ingrained the sauna is in Finnish culture, from taking one every day instead of showering when you spend time in your summer house (it's a thing in Finland), to it being a special thing to do before you get married. Basically, saunas are a big deal and life and death revolves around it.

Clearly, there's something we're missing out on here. Sure, we've probably all had saunas in our lifetime, but more than once a week? That's probably not the case. However, after doing more research and speaking to experts, I've discovered that there are plenty of benefits to be gained from taking a sauna. From helping you to lose weight to aiding mental health, keep scrolling for our guide to sauna benefits...

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