Saunas in Singapore

Saunas in Singapore

Deborah KayBy Deborah KayMarch 9, 202210 Minutes

Benefits of Sauna

There are many well documented benefits of frequent sauna use:

  • Cardiovascular benefits
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Improved cognitive and mental health (less depression, more neurogenesis)
  • Hormone and metabolic function
  • Detoxification

Several studies have shown that frequent sauna bathing (4-7 times per week, 174°F for 20 min) is associated with a

  • 50% lower risk for fatal heart disease,
  • 60% lower risk for sudden cardiac death,
  • 51% lower risk for stroke, and
  • 46% lower risk for hypertension.

In addition to lowering cardiovascular-related mortality, sauna use may have benefits for overall longevity. For example, using the sauna 2-3 times per week is associated with 24% lower all-cause mortality and using the sauna 4-7 times per week is associated with 40% lower all-cause mortality.

People that used the sauna 2-3 times per week had a 20% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and those that used the sauna 4-7 times per week had a 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, compared to men that used the sauna 1 time per week.

 

How it Works

Heat, as a hormetic stressor, triggers protective mechanisms that repair cell damage, but also protect against future stresses.

Sauna bathing has several cardiovascular benefits. Exposure to heat causes the body and skin temperature to rise. The heart beats faster as the body needs more oxygen (similar to exercise). The arteries expands and contract, improving endothelial function. Blood pressure is also reduced.

Blood flow is redirected from the body to the skin to encourage sweating (one can lose up to 0.5kg of sweat while in the sauna). This has a detoxifying effect as heavy metals and other toxins are released from the body.

Saunas activate heat shock proteins which help to repair damaged protein that can cause Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and can also be protective against these neurological diseases.

Besides heat shock proteins, sauna usage increases Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF) which promotes neurogenesis, the growth of new neurons in the brain.

It also activates molecular mechanisms that are anti-inflammatory, protects against oxidative stress and reduces chronic inflammation.

 

Frequency and Duration

The benefits of sauna are dose dependent so to get the maximum benefits, it has been recommended that one should sauna at least 3-4 times a week for 20 minutes in a conventional sauna and 45 minutes in an infra-red sauna.

 

Infra Red vs Conventional Sauna

Infra red saunas are heated to 50-60 deg celsius compared to 70-80 deg celsius for conventional saunas.

Infra red saunas can deliver the same benefits as conventional saunas but because they are not as hot, you’ll have to stay in for a longer time.

When I wore my Polar in the sauna it took 20 minutes to get my heart rate up to 142 bpm in a conventional sauna and 45 minutes in an infra red sauna.

Heart Rate during Infra Red and Conventional Sauna

 

Sauna as an Exercise Memetic

The use of saunas has been proposed as an exercise memetic for people who are injured / old and unable to exercise because the physiological response to sauna bathing is very similar to that of moderate to high intensity exercise.

 

Where to Sauna in Singapore

The best place I found for frequent sauna usage is Fitness First. They have saunas in 15 clubs conveniently located all around Singapore. There is a small sauna at One Raffles Quay which is always empty at around 3-5pm (my favourite time to go). There’s also a big sauna (usually occupied, even during off peak) at One George Street which can be used with the swimming pool for some hot/cold therapy. I pay $136 a month with the AIA Vitality 20% discount which works out to about $11 per use if I go three times a week. Saunas are the only reason I have a Fitness First membership.

Pure Wellness Studio, now under Core Collective, have infra-red saunas (intro package of $60 for 2 visits, $75 per visit thereafter). It’s a pleasant experience with chromotherapy (different lights in the sauna) but more expensive if you plan to go frequently (which you should if you want the full benefits of heat therapy).

Other places that have saunas:

  • Country clubs
  • Condos
  • Hotels (some accessible via Classpass)
  • Spas
  • Other big box gyms (e.g. Virgin Active but only 7 branches and more expensive than Fitness First)
  • Gay saunas (I’m sure there are other benefits not listed here but that would be out of scope of this blog post, lol)

 

 

References

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