Real Talk: What Do Saunas Really Do?

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 20-year-long study published in 2015 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 delved 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 revolve around it. We're clearly missing out over here. And after doing more research and speaking to experts, I've discovered that there are plenty of benefits to be gained from taking a sauna.

Keep scrolling for our guide to sauna benefits, which include everything from losing weight to aiding mental health.