Why You Should Sweat In a Sauna This Winter

What’s better in winter than some alone time in a steamy sauna? Pretty much nothing. But as you sit there sweating all of your stresses away, you might wonder whether the sweltering heat is actually healthy. Fortunately, a swath of new research suggests that it is.

For starters, sauna bathing might help you break out of the winter doldrums. “Some small studies have shown improvement in some symptoms of depression with sauna use, including hunger, pain, and ability to relax,” says Sagar Shah, M.D., a clinical instructor in the department of family and community medicine at the University of Wisconsin.

Still, it’s important to remember a few safety tips. The risk of skin damage increases after 20 minutes of intense heat, so spend just 15 to 20 minutes steaming at a time, recommends Dr. Shah. Drink a glass of water before you step in inside to reduce your risk of dehydration. If you start feeling abdominal discomfort, lightheadedness, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, headache or muscle cramping, it’s time to cut your session short. And be sure to call your doctor if you experience chest pain from your sauna experience, adds Dr. Shah. Finally, skip the sauna altogether if you take the anti-seizure drug topiramate or if you have pulmonary hypertension.

All good? Consider the following benefits.