Effect of Finnish sauna baths on the white blood cells count in physically active young males
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Instytut Nauk Biomedycznych, Akademia Wychowania Fizycznego, Kraków
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Marta Szarek   

Akademia Wychowania Fizycznego, Kraków, Polska
Med Og Nauk Zdr. 2014;20(1):70-75
Sauna treatments, often used in sports and recreation, are now of interest to a wide range of researchers. The aim of the study was to determine the effect of single and repeated Finnish sauna baths on plasma volume changes and quantitative alteration in leukocytes in physically active young males.

Material and Methods:
The study enrolled 16 males aged 20–23, who had taken 10 Finnish sauna baths (within a onemonth period of time) at a temperature of about 90°C, and humidity of 5–20%. Each bath was composed of three 15-minute attendances, with 2-minute cooling between heat exposures. Fasting blood samples were taken 6 times: before the first and tenth sauna, 10 minutes after the first and tenth sauna, and after 24 hours. The haematological variables were adjusted for plasma volume changes (%Δ PV).

The study showed a decrease in body weight and plasma volume of the subjects after both the first and the last sauna. The highest average loss of plasma volume was recorded after the last sauna, as compared with the first treatment. There were no changes in the total number of leukocytes after the first or the tenth sauna. The increase in total white blood cell count was found 24 hours after the first and tenth sauna, but it was not significant. The number of neutrophils rose and the numbers of lymphocytes, monocytes and eosinophils declined after the first and last sauna.

The loss of plasma volume and weight loss due to heavy sweating was greater after 10 saunas, compared to a single treatment. A sauna does not alter the total number of leukocytes considering correction for plasma volume changes due to dehydration. A shift in the neutrophils/lymphocytes ratio in favour of neutrophils was noted, probably due to the effect of growth hormone and adrenaline.

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