Welcome to The Healthy Habits Challenge
Welcome to week 8 of the Healthy Habits Challenge. This week we talk about the benefits of sauna bathing, nourishing our social connections and braving contrast showers. If you would like to boost your overall wellness pick any of the following healthy habits and gradually start to integrate it into your daily routine.
Healthy Habit #22
Healthy habit #22 was inspired by Dr Rhonda Patrick’s detailed and well-researched article concerning the emerging research on the benefits of sauna bathing.
Studies have found that sauna bathing can:
- Reduce total cholesterol and LDL;
- Lowers blood pressure;
- Decreases inflammation;
- Reduce the risk of heart-related deaths by 27% in moderate sauna users (2-3 times/week) and 50% in frequent sauna users (4-7 times/week);
- Reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 65% in frequent sauna users;
- Lessens the symptoms of depression;
- Improve insulin and blood sugar levels;
- Increase physical endurance and
- Aids in the elimination of toxic compounds via the sweat glands e.g. aluminium, cadmium, cobalt, and lead.
What blew my mind is the fact that frequent sauna users were found to be 40% less likely to die from all causes of premature death!
The Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) study which found the reduction in heart-related deaths, all-cause mortality, Alzheimer’s disease and sauna use typically heated their saunas to a temperature of at least 78.9°C (174°F). The participants spent at least 20 minutes in the sauna per session.
Understandably, not everyone has a sauna in their home (myself included). However, many of us do have a gym pass and most gyms have saunas.
I recommend incorporating sauna bathing into your weekly workout plan. After all, our body’s response to sauna use is remarkably similar to our response during moderate to vigorous physical activity.
So make it a sauna day!
Healthy Habit #23
Now more than ever it’s important to make time to nourish our social connections.
My hope for us as a global society is that we remember to not take our social connections (i.e. friends and families) for granted once social-distancing measures are removed.
Strong social connections are vital for our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Studies have found that strong social ties are linked to reduced mortality risk among adults.
What is even more amazing is that this finding held true even when researches took into account socioeconomic status, health behaviours, and other variables that might influence mortality (Umberson, D., & Karas Montez, J., 2010).
Healthy Habit #24
First, a contrast shower involves the application of hot water for less than 5 minutes (long hot) followed by cold water for less than 1 minute (short cold).
The contrast shower is a powerful tool in stimulating vitality/energy and promoting the elimination of waste from our bodies.
Alternation between the hot and cold water helps strengthen and normalise the nervous, circulatory, hormonal, musculoskeletal and immune systems.
Contrast showers can also help increase the body’s tolerance to physical and mental stressors.
How to contrast shower
- After your normal shower, gradually turn down the hot water until the shower is pleasantly cool and rinse your entire body for about 1 minute.
- If you have localized areas of pain or soreness you can focus the cool water on those areas.
- Next, switch the shower back to hot to re-warm your body for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Repeat this cycle 3 to 5 times and end with cool.
- After the final cool rinse, dry yourself off quickly, rubbing briskly with a towel to stimulate the re-warming process.
- Note that your skin may turn light pink.