Forget performance-enhancing drugs; try sauna instead

Saunas have long been used by warriors to stay in elite shape and research  shows the great benefits of regular sauna baths on human endurance. A study out of New Zealand* tested the effects of regular post-exercise sauna baths on endurance runners. After three weeks, the group that took 30-minute saunas four times a week after exercising had increased their endurance by over 30 percent! Endurance was tested by having the athletes run to exhaustion on a treadmill. Sauna baths increase blood volume. The effect is like that of EPO** in that the sauna baths increase the production of red blood cells. More importantly, saunas do so more safely as they also keep the blood properly thin. 

Aside from increasing general endurance and normalizing blood flow to the fingers and toes and other sundry parts, saunas are also used in the treatment of acne, arthritis, congestive heart failure, sinusitis and other respiratory maladies,  wrinkles,  blood pressure problems, poor circulation and cold intolerance. A hot sauna followed by a cold bath helps keep blood vessels pliable and the blood flowing well. That’s good stuff.

Too bad Lance Armstrong did not grow up in Ely. 

Instead of using the banned substance EPO to increase his blood volume,  he could have taken saunas before his races to increase his endurance. 

Too bad for Lance and all the folks who looked up to him. But, lucky for us, we in Ely have a public sauna available to all. Winter is here, so whether we’re prepping for a race or looking to get that perfect complexion or just need a quiet time away, a weekly sauna is just the ticket.  Just think of all the brains, hearts and marriages that could be saved with a weekly sauna! Two or more per week are even better. The Finns say that the skin is most beautiful half an hour after a sauna. We all know how fabulous we feel after a sauna – clean as a whistle and loose as a goose. A sauna, a beer and thou... what better way to relax the body after a stressful day?

 So whether you have your own private sauna or prefer the social atmosphere of the public sauna, shed those duds and get thee to a sauna!

(Please use common sense and/or see your doctor first.)

All good medicine,

Dr. T. Riabokin

Ely, Minn.

*J Sci Med Sport. 2007 Aug.

**EPO - erythropoietin - is a substance illegally used by some athletes to increase endurance.


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I have been taking saunas since I was born. I guess that is what makes me such a reasonable, introspective, principled and ultra clean person. Thanks, Doc. I needed that.

Saturday, December 29, 2012 | Report this

I so totally agree that a sauna cures a whole lot of ills.

Sunday, March 10, 2013 | Report this