The Benefits Of Sweat Bathing with Mikkel Aaland

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There are many benefits to sweat baths both physiologically and spiritually. Fundamentally, it is done in a heated room where you are raising the temperature of your body. The sweat bath heats the internal organs, stimulates blood flow, and benefits the immune system. It is good for the cardiovascular system. It is likened to an artificial fever so if there are any viruses or bacteria that are sensitive to fluctuations in temperature they are expelled. Sweats can be an antidote to our sedentary society where people sit at a desk much of the day and don’t sweat. Besides physiological benefits, Mikkel Aaland describes other benefits of sweating together, “You’re naked, you don’t have your uniform on. You don’t have your protectiveness around you anymore. You’re all the same as the person next to you. You can’t tell if that person’s a general or a businessman. You are all brought back to this basic human level and this is one of the reasons, I think, there’s a resurgence of popularity . . . You’re engaged in this activity together and we know that when humans do a common activity, they bond.” (hosted by Phil Cousineau)


Mikkel Aaland is a second generation Norseman living in Northern California. He’s a photographer specializing in digital photography and is a universally recognized authority on sweat bathing cultures around the world. He is a writer and workshop leader.

Mikkel Aaland’s books include:

To learn more about Mikkel Aaland’s work go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How he was first introduced to Finnish saunas
  • How everyone is equal in a sweat bath
  • Why students at the University of Oregon protested the closing down of the student sauna
  • What is the difference between taking a shower and taking a bath
  • What are the physiological benefits of sweating
  • How a communal sweat is like a pilgrimage
  • How sweating together can be a spiritual ceremony and a stimulant to deep conversation
  • What are the health benefits of sweat baths
  • How saunas can contribute to world peace
  • How can sweats be part of health care options

Host: Phil Cousineau      Interview Date: 4/7/2014      Program Number: 3505

Music Playlist

From Album: Hidden Sky
Artist: Jami Sieber
2004 Out Front Music #OFM 1010

Opening Essay: Track 01 Maenam
Music Break 1: Track 05 Hidden Sky
Music Break 2: Track 09 Hidden Sky (reprise)
Music Break 3: Track 11 Arms of the Mother