Sauna and steam rooms are often spoken about favorably for their various beneficial health effects. From the stress-relief to skin health promotion. But the effects of heat and steam exposure are not just skin deep. So, we’re here to answer the questions are sauna and steam rooms good for your bones?
Scientific researches show that regular exposure to high temperatures and high humidity of saunas and steam rooms have beneficial effects on bone health and bone structure. The most important beneficial effects are the increase in bone mineral density and the overall increase of mineral content, without a decrease in dimensions.
As such, sauna and steam rooms use looks like excellent candidate for the prevention of many degenerative processes of the bones caused by old age. So, let’s dive into the details.
Table of Contents
- How Sauna & Steam Rooms Affect Your Bones
- Are Saunas & Steam Rooms Good for Arthritis?
- What Type of Sauna Should Be Used to Strengthen Your Bones?
How Sauna & Steam Rooms Affect Your Bones
Scientific research shows that regular use of saunas and steam rooms can have very beneficial effects on your bones. And we will dive into the details of those in a moment.
One such research conducted at the University of Extramadura, Spain, and published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health shows that beneficial effects are not noticeable only during the use of saunas and steam rooms.
In other words, scientists have noticed beneficial changes in the test subjects’ bones during regular exposure to the sauna. But those benefits had an effect that was steadily increasing even two weeks after they have stopped visiting a sauna.
Mineral Density Increase
One of the signs of good bone health is the mineral density in them. The main minerals that make bones are calcium and phosphorus in the form of a chemical compound that forms together, hydroxyapatite. The strength and health of your bones are directly proportional to the concentration of this mineral in them.
In other words, the density of it and the density of your bones. The denser they are, the healthier your bones are and more able to properly function. The loss of mineral density leads to their weakening and they become brittle and easily fractured.
The use of saunas and steam rooms can improve your bone mineral density.
Increased Mineral Content
The scientific research on sauna and steam room effects on bone health shows another beneficial effect. One thing to understand is that bone mineral density, under certain conditions, can happen due to a decrease in bone thickness without loss of mineral content.
But, the effects of sauna and steam room use are not such. Instead, the thickness of bones remains the same. The increase in bone mineral density is caused by new mineral deposits in them.
So, why does sauna and steam room has these beneficial effects?
One recent research conducted at the University of Geneva suggests the mechanism of action heat has on bone health. Though it doesn’t offer conclusive proof, its results suggest that elevated temperatures promote changes in gut microbiota that improves mineral absorption.
This research on laboratory mice is further backed up by the epidemiological data for osteoporosis in humans. This data shows that there is a direct correlation between the incidence of this degenerative bone loss and geographic latitude.
People living in warmer climates suffer much rarer from osteoporosis.
Are Saunas & Steam Rooms Good for Arthritis?
Arthritis is a general term that covers more than a hundred joint diseases, but the most common types are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Both of these are inflammatory diseases of joints, though they have very different underlying causes and progression. But a large body of scientific research shows the benefits of sauna and steam room use in their management.
For centuries the beneficial effects of saunas use are known for easing pains and promoting inflammation recovery and management. And such claims are backed by science.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that attacks primarily the joints of hands and feet, but it can affect other joints as well.
There are many different underlying causes of it, and the mechanism of this illness is that the immune system attacks the joints of the body. This then causes the inflammation of joint capsules, which presents as its thickening.
Management of this disorder comes down to pain management and the decrease of the inflammation of the joints, which both causes pain and decrease the mobility of the affected joint.
Research of the sauna and steam room use for rheumatoid arthritis management shows some improvement in both mobility and quality of life of patients.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of joints, where chronic inflammation of joints’ cartilage is preventing the natural regeneration of it.
This presents as joint swelling, pain, and severe loss of joint mobility. Warming up the affected joints is a well-known and well-understood method of treatment for this illness.
While it doesn’t cure it, sauna and steam room treatments do decrease symptoms and increase the quality of life of people suffering from it. Another effect is that these treatments provide mental relaxation and a decrease in stress, both of which have a positive impact on symptom management.
What Type of Sauna Should Be Used to Strengthen Your Bones?
In general, saunas can be divided into four types:
- traditional sauna
- dry sauna
- Turkish bath
- infrared therapy sauna
The common thing for all four of them is the environment with an elevated temperature, despite significant differences in how each of them works and is used. While the exact mechanism of how saunas and steam rooms are not yet fully understood, it is a well-established fact that the key factor is the heat.
Because of this, all sauna types have equal effects on bone strength, and your choice should be based on other factors.
We all age and for many people that means dealing with various problems affecting bones and joints, problems that can be managed or decreased by improving the health of your bones. So, you might wonder are sauna or steam rooms good for your bones.
The vast amount of scientific research shows that in both healthy people, regular use of saunas and steam rooms increases bone mineral density and also overall mineral content, making them healthier. And also beneficial effects in the management of the degenerative processes of both joints and bones.
While these effects are not big enough to replace all other methods for maintaining bone health, they are big enough to conclude that saunas and steam rooms are good for your bones.
(Featured image by Taokinesis from Pixabay)