Sauna and cold plunge: what to know

Tyler Fish Tyler Fish

Sauna and cold plunge are two popular wellness practices that involve extreme temperature changes. Sauna involves sitting in a heated room or chamber, while cold plunge involves immersing oneself in cold water. The practice of alternating between sauna and cold plunge has gained popularity in recent years, with many people touting the benefits of this practice for physical and mental health.

In this article, we will explore the benefits and risks of sauna and cold plunge, as well as the benefits of combining the two practices.

Benefits of Sauna

Sauna has been used for centuries for its purported health benefits. One of the primary benefits of sauna is its ability to induce sweating. Sweating is the body’s natural way of detoxifying and eliminating waste products, and sauna has been shown to promote this process.

In addition to its detoxifying effects, sauna has also been shown to have cardiovascular benefits. Studies have found that regular sauna use can help to lower blood pressure, improve circulation, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Sauna has also been shown to have benefits for the immune system. It has been found to increase the production of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off infections and diseases.

Other potential benefits of sauna include pain relief, improved lung function, and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Benefits of Cold Plunge

Cold plunge involves immersing oneself in cold water, usually for a short period of time. Like sauna, cold plunge has been used for centuries for its purported health benefits.

One of the primary benefits of cold plunge is its ability to reduce inflammation. Cold water causes blood vessels to constrict, which can help to reduce inflammation and swelling.

Cold plunge has also been shown to have benefits for the immune system. It has been found to increase the production of white blood cells, similar to sauna.

Other potential benefits of cold plunge include improved circulation, reduced muscle soreness, and improved mental clarity.

Benefits of Combining Sauna and Cold Plunge

The practice of alternating between sauna and cold plunge has gained popularity in recent years, with many people touting the benefits of this practice for physical and mental health.

One of the primary benefits of combining sauna and cold plunge is improved circulation. The heat from the sauna causes blood vessels to dilate, while the cold water from the plunge causes blood vessels to constrict. This alternation between dilation and constriction can help to improve circulation and promote overall cardiovascular health.

Another potential benefit of combining sauna and cold plunge is improved immune function. The combination of heat and cold has been shown to increase the production of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off infections and diseases.

Combining sauna and cold plunge may also help to improve mental clarity and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. The extreme temperature changes can help to promote relaxation and mindfulness, and may help to reduce stress and anxiety.

Risks of Sauna and Cold Plunge

While sauna and cold plunge can have many potential benefits, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with these practices.

One of the primary risks of sauna and cold plunge is dehydration. Both practices can cause significant sweating, which can lead to dehydration if adequate fluids are not consumed.

Another potential risk of sauna and cold plunge is overheating or hypothermia. It is important to monitor your body temperature and take breaks if you start to feel uncomfortable.

Sauna and cold plunge may also not be appropriate for everyone. People with certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or asthma, should speak with their doctor before engaging in these practices.

Conclusion

Sauna and cold plunge are two popular wellness practices that have been used for centuries for their purported health benefits. Combining the two practices may offer additional benefits for physical and mental health.

While sauna and cold plunge can have many potential benefits, it is important 

to be aware of the potential risks associated with these practices. It is important to stay hydrated and monitor your body temperature while engaging in these practices, and to speak with a doctor if you have any medical conditions that may be affected by extreme temperature changes.

Overall, sauna and cold plunge can be safe and beneficial practices when done properly. They can help to improve circulation, boost immune function, reduce inflammation, and promote relaxation and mental clarity. By incorporating these practices into a regular wellness routine, individuals may be able to improve their overall health and wellbeing.

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References:

  1. Laukkanen, T., Khan, H., Zaccardi, F., & Laukkanen, J. A. (2018). Association between sauna bathing and fatal cardiovascular and all-cause mortality events. JAMA internal medicine, 178(6), 1-8.

  2. Roberts, L. A., & Nosaka, K. (2015). Co-ingestion of protein with carbohydrate during recovery from endurance exercise stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis in humans. Journal of applied physiology, 118(6), 1413-1421.

  3. Bleakley, C., McDonough, S., Gardner, E., & Baxter, G. D. (2012). Cold-water immersion (cryotherapy) for preventing and treating muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (2).

Links:

  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2672264

  2. https://jap.physiology.org/content/118/6/1413

  3. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD008262.pub2/full

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