Living longer, healthier lives is a topic that interests most people. The conversation surrounding the reduction of controllable causes of mortality is something that is being explored and studied in science labs worldwide. It used to be that the most common expression to describe this field of study was ‘lifespan’ or ‘longevity’, but with greater frequency this term has been replaced by ‘healthspan’, as the objective is to find ways to live longer in a healthy body.
Most individuals are not looking only to increase the years that they have on this planet, but moreover to increase both the quality and quantity of their lifespan. Living in a vivacious and well functioning body is important. If this quality of living can be increased in length, then ultimately, this becomes the goal with any life expansion protocol.
What can an individual actively do to decrease all cause mortality and improve the odds of extending their life span in a healthy body? Biological studies on the potential of the human body to move through time while maintaining healthy homeostasis within the body have demonstrated that consistent and regular use of saunas may help to radically improve both the quality and quantity of an individual’s lifespan.
The body of work reporting positive results for human physiology, with regular sauna use from peer reviewed journals, is growing by leaps and bounds, particularly as it pertains to healthspan.
From Lifespan to Healthspan: A Modern Era For Research On Longevity and Geriatric Care
Until the year 2000 there were only 14 medical papers that used the expression of healthspan instead of, or in addition to, lifespan; now there are over 900 peer reviewed journals that index the expression healthspan.
The National Library of Medicine published an article on how exactly healthspan can be defined, in the article: “Challenges In Defining Healthspan ”. This article provides measurable and quantifiable ways of defining the term healthspan, further the article explains that the best definition of healthspan is the following:
“The concept of healthspan is relatively new in geroscience research, which seeks to understand the biological mechanisms of aging…one common definition is that healthspan is the period of life spent in good health, free from the chronic diseases and disabilities of aging.” (1)
Healthspan creates an arena of scientific research that moves away from a focus on lifespan, regardless of quality of life, to set parameters for increasing one’s health over a longer chronological period.
When studying genetic, environmental, and other factors that determine both overall health as well as mortality and length of life, it is best to reach for the goal of improving healthspan so that individuals can live a longer and healthier life.
There are, evidently causes for mortality that are beyond the scope of lifestyle such as accidents, incurable genetic diseases, and acts of god, but overall if someone wants to improve both quality and quantity of life there remain lifestyle choices that may positively impact healthspan.
Refraining from using substances such as excessive alcohol, cigarettes, fast food, certain pharmaceutical drugs will certainly add to one’s overall health; there are also activities such as regular exercise, meditation and other ways to calm the nervous system that will be helpful in improving healthspan.
In addition to more popular ways of maintaining a lifestyle that aims to improve the quality of life, sauna bathing, or the use of hyperthermic stress (heat therapy), has taken center stage in research the world over on healthspan.
The data surrounding the positive effects of sauna use on healthspan are compelling, and for anyone looking to improve their overall health, they would certainly want to consider adding regular (at least 3 times a week) sauna use to their routine.
Sauna use for improving healthspan is a lifestyle choice that requires the committed and repeated use of sauna therapy.
How Can Sauna Use Improve Healthspan?
The National Library of medicine has published a plethora of journals that detail the reasons for why subjects respond so positively to sauna use, one of these articles entitled: “Sauna Use To Extend Lifespan” writes the following:
“In recent decades, sauna bathing has emerged as a probable means to extend healthspan, based on compelling data from observational, interventional, and mechanistic studies.” (2)
This publication was based on studies that used saunas of varying types that maintained temperatures between 113 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and thereby debunking the myth that hotter does not necessarily mean better when it comes to improving forecasted lifespan with sauna use.
The goal when setting the temperature to improve lifestyle is not to assume that the higher the better, but rather to maintain the temperature several degrees above normal temperatures of the body. This allows for a hormetic effect to help the body naturally find homeostasis in the body. By intentionally raising the temperature in a particular room or cabin either by means of infrared light or a traditional stove sauna, the body will begin to stabilize internal body temperature through perspiration.
The same article from the National Library of Medicine describes the necessary interactive changes that take place in the body as a result of sauna use:
“This exposure elicits mild hyperthermia, inducing a thermoregulatory response involving neuroendocrine, cardiovascular, and cytoprotective mechanisms that work in a synergistic fashion in an attempt to maintain homeostasis.” (2)
There are strong correlative factors as well as direct effects on the body when individuals intentionally use heat to induce a healthy stress response (hormesis) to induce cardiovascular engagement to regulate the body’s internal temperature.
Other Factors Derived From Sauna Use That Positively Influence Healthspan
- Better Sleep
- Body Mass Optimization
- Heat Shock Protein Production
- Dopamine and Endorphin Release
- Relief From Joint Pain
- Stronger Bones
- Better Muscle Recovery
- Deeper States Of Relaxation
Regular sauna use is not a one stop solution for all your health care needs, however, its use does induce many positive biological responses that may increase healthspan.
From improving the cardiovascular system without exercise, to releasing harmful toxins from the body, the list of correlative benefits derived from regular sauna use goes on.
Another study issued by the National Library of Medicine entitled: “Joint associations of sauna bathing and cardiorespiratory fitness on cardiovascular and all-cause mortality risk: a long-term prospective cohort study” (4), aimed to find the root associations between sauna use and longevity in their stated purpose of the study:
“We aimed to evaluate the joint impact of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and frequency of sauna bathing (FSB) on the risk of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.” (4)
This study was based on 2277 male subjects, and a follow-up analysis was done on average 26.1 years after regular sauna use was started. (4) The results from this study demonstrate that at least 3 sauna sessions a week are necessary to demonstrate results on cardiovascular fitness, but the preferred number of sauna sessions was anywhere from 3-7.
The conclusion of this study is expressed in the authors final statement:
“In a population-based prospective cohort study, a combination of high CRF levels and frequent sauna bathing (3-7 sessions per week) was associated with a substantial risk reduction in fatal cardiovascular and all-cause mortality events compared with good CRF or frequent sauna bathing alone. A combination of good fitness levels produced by aerobic exercises and frequent sauna bathing may have added health benefits and confer more protection on the risk of mortality.” (4)
Even if adding years on to your life is not your highest priority, it is still likely that using a sauna several times a week may dramatically improve your overall health.
Quality Versus Quantity of Life: A Lifestyle That Includes Sauna Use
Regardless of whether mortality is something an individual has any control over, it is apparent through scientific research that the use of saunas may improve how you feel day to day in your body.
There will always be a time limit on life expectancy, this may fluctuate by the years or even decades, but ultimately, what each individual is left with is the possibility to improve the quality of life in the present moment. For many, quality of life is largely dependent upon a healthy well functioning body.
If you are looking to improve the health of the body, then consider including regular sauna bathing into your weekly health care routine.