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Sauna Health Benefits: Are saunas healthy or harmful?
A sauna benefits your heart health, as long as you practice sauna safety
A saunas' dry heat (which can get as high as 185° F) has profound effects on the body. Skin temperature soars to about 104° F within minutes. The average person will pour out a pint of sweat during a short stint in a sauna. The pulse rate jumps by 30% or more, allowing the heart to nearly double the amount of blood it pumps each minute. Most of the extra blood flow is directed to the skin; in fact, the circulation actually shunts blood away from the internal organs. Blood pressure is unpredictable, rising in some people but falling in others.
Saunas appear safe for most people. However, people with uncontrolled high blood pressure and heart disease should check with their doctors before taking a sauna.
Here are some general precautions:
- Avoid alcohol and medications that may impair sweating and produce overheating before and after your sauna.
- Stay in no more than 15–20 minutes.
- Cool down gradually afterward.
- Drink two to four glasses of cool water after each sauna.
- Don't take a sauna when you are ill, and if you feel unwell during your sauna, head for the door.
Image: voyagerix/Getty Images
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