“If whatever ails you cannot be cured by sauna, then there is no hope.” – Finnish Proverb

Traditional sauna is a cornerstone of Finnish culture, celebrated for its relaxation and health benefits. Rooted in centuries of tradition, the sauna experience involves sitting in a small room heated to between 160°F and 200°F. This practice is not only a social ritual but is also attributed with numerous health advantages, making it a cherished activity for many. A wealth of research now exists enumerating and explaining some of these benefits. Here are a few of the virtues of sauna:

Improves Cardiovascular Health

Sauna has long been lauded for its benefits to heart health and many studies have documented what Finns have known for many generations. A 2020 study found that pulse wave velocity, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, left ventricle ejection time, and diastolic time decreased immediately following a 30-minute sauna session and stayed lower during a 30-minute recovery phase (1). Another study found sauna use inversely associated with cardiovascular disease mortality (2). Repeated sauna also improves vascular endothelial function (which is important for blood fluidity, immune function, vascular tone, and lowering inflammation) (3).

Promotes Relaxation

Those who sauna regularly feel the relaxation, but did you know that repeated use of Finnish sauna has shown a significant reduction in cortisol both during the session and maintains a low level after sessions (4) and shows a sustained reduction in cortisol for those with high-stress jobs (5)?

Helps to Relieve Pain

Relieving sore muscles in the sauna is just the tip of the iceberg. Sauna has shown a significant pain relief for both chronic tension headaches (15 days of headaches or more per month) (6) and nerve pain (7).

Improves Respiratory Tract Function

Breathe in some of that lovely loyly (steam) and help your lungs! Regular sauna use increases lung function and reduces the risk of pneumonia (8).

Reduces Inflammation

An 11-year study on 2,269 men found a significant reduction in inflammation throughout the study (9). Another study of 2,084 men found an inverse association between the frequency of sauna bathing and c-reactive protein levels (the marker for inflammation in the body) (10).

Lowers Blood Pressure

Sauna use has been found to lower blood pressure during the session and levels stay lower 30 minutes after the sauna, too (11). Those who use the sauna 4-7 times per week show lower blood pressure and a “markedly reduced risk of Cardio Vascular Disease” (12).

Improves Mood

Not only does sauna usage lower cortisol (4), it also increases the production of endorphins (13) which relieve pain and create an overall sense of well-being.

Adds Social Connection

Helsinki-based author, Katja Pantzar beautifully captures the atmosphere and community of sauna, “In the sauna, it’s not just about the things we can measure. There’s a beauty that arises. You can have intimate conversations with people and you don’t even know their names. For a great many people in Finland, the sauna is where they really open up and talk. It can be like group therapy. We’ll discuss our mental health, about being tired, or overwhelmed and we’ll talk about the state of the world; how politics and the climate crisis is affecting us. And about positive, uplifting things – art exhibitions, theatre, books, the beauty of nature and its restorative effects…in the sauna, we are equal; there’s no judgement. Simply put, it’s the place where we try to make sense of the world and our place in it.” (14)

Aids in better Sleep

Get more high quality zzz’s, with regular sauna use. Respondents who participated in a 12-week sauna protocol reported an average increase of 17.5 on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index compared to a 1.13 increase of the control group (15).

Helps with Brain Function

Let our steam clear your fog. A 25-year study found that sauna use is inversely associated with both dementia and Alzheimer’s (16).

Healthier Looking Skin

Increased circulation and sweating out dirt and sebum can improve the overall look of your skin giving you that healthy, post-sauna glow (even after you’re no longer in the sauna!) Additionally, it creates a more “stable epidermal barrier function” with better elasticity and resilience (17).

1 Earric Lee, Tanjaniina Laukkanen, Setor K Kunutsor, Hassan Khan, Peter Willeit, Francesco Zaccardi, Jari A Laukkanen, Sauna exposure leads to improved arterial compliance: Findings from a non-randomised experimental study, European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, Volume 25, Issue 2, 1 January 2018, Pages 130–138,

2 Laukkanen, T., Kunutsor, S.K., Khan, H. et al. Sauna bathing is associated with reduced cardiovascular mortality and improves risk prediction in men and women: a prospective cohort study. BMC Med 16, 219 (2018).

3 Takashi Kihara, Sadatoshi Biro, Masakazu Imamura, Shiro Yoshifuku, Kunitsugu Takasaki, Yoshiyuki Ikeda, Yutaka Otuji, Shinichi Minagoe, Yoshifumi Toyama, Chuwa Tei, Repeated sauna treatment improves vascular endothelial and cardiac function in patients with chronic heart failure, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Volume 39, Issue 5, 2002, Pages 754-759, ISSN 0735-1097,

4 Podstawski R, Borysławski K, Pomianowski A, Krystkiewicz W, Żurek P. Endocrine Effects of Repeated Hot Thermal Stress and Cold Water Immersion in Young Adult Men. American Journal of Men’s Health. 2021;15(2). doi:10.1177/15579883211008339

5 Henderson KN, Killen LG, O’Neal EK, Waldman HS. The Cardiometabolic Health Benefits of Sauna Exposure in Individuals with High-Stress Occupations. A Mechanistic Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jan 27;18(3):1105. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18031105

6 Kanji, Giresh, Weatherall, Mark, Peter, Raja, Purdie, Gordon, Page, Rachel, Efficacy of Regular Sauna Bathing for Chronic Tension-Type Headache: A Randomized Controlled Study, Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.) 21, 2015/01/30. doi:10.1089/acm.2013.0466

7 Nurmikko T, Hietaharju A. Effect of exposure to sauna heat on neuropathic and rheumatoid pain. Pain. 1992 Apr;49(1):43-51. DOI: 10.1016/0304-3959(92)90186-f. PMID: 1375727.

8 Kunutsor SK, Laukkanen T, Laukkanen JA. Frequent sauna bathing may reduce the risk of pneumonia in middle-aged Caucasian men: The KIHD prospective cohort study. Respir Med. 2017 Nov;132:161-163. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2017.10.018. Epub 2017 Oct 23. PMID: 29229091.

9 Kunutsor, S. K., Laukkanen, T., & Laukkanen, J. A. (2018). Longitudinal associations of sauna bathing with inflammation and oxidative stress: the KIHD prospective cohort study. Annals of Medicine, 50(5), 437–442.

10 Laukkanen, J.A., Laukkanen, T. Sauna bathing and systemic inflammation. Eur J Epidemiol 33, 351–353 (2018).

11 Laukkanen T, Kunutsor SK, Zaccardi F, Lee E, Willeit P, Khan H, Laukkanen JA. Acute effects of sauna bathing on cardiovascular function. J Hum Hypertens. 2018 Feb;32(2):129-138. doi: 10.1038/s41371-017-0008-z. Epub 2017 Dec 21. PMID: 29269746.

12 Francesco Zaccardi, Tanjaniina Laukkanen, Peter Willeit, Setor K Kunutsor, Jussi Kauhanen, Jari A Laukkanen, Sauna Bathing and Incident Hypertension: A Prospective Cohort Study, American Journal of Hypertension, Volume 30, Issue 11, November 2017, Pages 1120–1125,

13 Kukkonen-Harjula K, Kauppinen K. How the sauna affects the endocrine system. Ann Clin Res. 1988;20(4):262-6. PMID: 3218898.

14 O’Kelly, E., Astikainen, M., & Aaland, M. (2023). Sauna: The power of deep heat. Welbeck Balance.

15 Hussain J, Cohen M. Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018 Apr 24;2018:1857413. doi: 10.1155/2018/1857413. PMID: 29849692; PMCID: PMC5941775.

16 Laukkanen T, Kunutsor S, Kauhanen J, Laukkanen JA. Sauna bathing is inversely associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in middle-aged Finnish men. Age Ageing. 2017 Mar 1;46(2):245-249. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afw212. PMID: 27932366.

17 D. Kowatzki, C. Macholdt, K. Krull, D. Schmidt, T. Deufel, P. Elsner, J.W. Fluhr; Effect of Regular Sauna on Epidermal Barrier Function and Stratum Corneum Water-Holding Capacity in vivo in Humans: A Controlled Study. Dermatology 1 August 2008; 217 (2): 173–180.