The health benefits of a heated tent

By Shayna Brouker • Published: October 12th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Feeling a little blue now that summer’s through? Whether you’re just a little down in the dumps or actually suffering from depression, doctors have found one surprising way to help their patients get over the blues. Apparently, immersing a patient’s body in a heated tent, with his or her head sticking out, can help patients with depression feel a little lighter.

Anecdotal evidence and past research suggests some depressed people could, in effect, sweat the sadness out after a sauna session. One study had patients undergo whole-body heating to see whether it could render cancer cells more susceptible to chemotherapy. Scientists found that the treatment, called hyperthermia, significantly improved moods in depressed patients.

So the University of Arizona tested the theory by devising a one-man tent with silver reflectors to retain body heat. The subjects sat inside the tent for two hours, during which their body temperature rose from a normal 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit to a cozy 101.3.

Scientists linked the toasty high body temperature with a rise in beta-endorphins, the same natural painkillers credited for the runner’s high. The body releases beta-endorphins when it’s under stress, and studies show they can also improve self-esteem and ease emotional distress. The results were the same in healthy, happy volunteers.

If you can’t get access to a hot tent or sauna, get yourself sweating — or at least get enough of a workout to get your endorphins flowing. Research has shown regular exercise can be just as effective as antidepressants — minus the risk of addiction and plus the added benefits of better sleep, healthier weight, improved moods, more energy and of course, less stress and sadness. Jog with a friend or dance it out at a Zumba class. Get your body moving in a positive way and your mind will follow. Get sweating and get better.