HEALTH BENEFITS OF REGULAR SAUNA USE
It’s the New Year! Welcome to 2022. With so many people looking to focus more on their health after the holidays we thought we’d revisit why regular sauna use is such a great addition to a healthy lifestyle. Whether you’re new to the sauna world, or just looking for more inspiration to incorporate sauna in your life, you're one of millions of sauna fans out there.
For thousands of years now, people have long enjoyed the relaxation and health benefits of intentionally sitting in a hot room and sweating it out. When you first think about it, it's a pretty odd concept. But, if you've ever spent time in a sauna you know just how much fun it can be and how great you feel when you get out!
It was the Finnish people that first invented the sauna. In fact, the word “sauna” is a Finnish word! The Finns aren’t the only culture that discovered the immense benefits of sweating. The Greeks, Romans, Turks, and Native Americans all had various types of bathhouses, sweat lodges, and other types of facilities to sit and enjoy the heat. Today, you can find saunas in all cultures including Asia, India, Japan, Russia, and of course, the United States. With all those different peope and cultures embracing the concept of sauna, there's gotta be something to it, right? Let's jump into some of the health benefits!
POTENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS
One of the first benefits of regular sauna use, and the most pronounced, in my opinion, is a reduction in stress. One of the reasons for this is that a sauna is a very calming environment with lots of different sensations for your mind to focus on, which allows you to tune out the stress and aggravation of daily life.
When you are in the sauna, you notice immediately how quiet it is. The wood usually gives off a nice cedar aroma. Depending on the type of sauna, you may be able to add a scoop of water to the heater, resulting in a satisfying “hiss” sound and some steam. As you sit for longer, you become aware of the heat and sweat. All of these sensations help to make you more focused and calm.
Our bodies are surrounded by all sorts of environmental toxins in the world around us. Regular use of a sauna may help to flush some of these out. Heavy metals, chemicals, and all those nasty food additives and preservatives may be flushed out by deep sweating. Make sure to replace those fluids with good clean water both during and after your sauna session!
Another possible benefit is that a sauna may give you an immune system boost. Exposure to the heat is thought to cause your white blood cell count to rise, fighting off bacteria and viruses that cause colds and flu. While it's not a good idea to go in a sauna if you are actively ill, when you are recovering from a cold, the hot dry air can help relieve some of your congestion.
There’s some growing evidence that regular trips to the sauna might improve your heart health. People who often use a sauna have been found to have lower resting heart rates. It may be a combination of the heat’s effect on the body along with the stress reduction you are certain to experience.
Because you’ll be losing a lot of fluid when you do the sauna, you’ll need to drink plenty of water before, during and after your session.
The less you wear in the sauna, the better. Many saunas in spas are single-gender, and in these cases, people usually wear nothing but a towel. It’s recommended that you don’t wear swimsuits made of artificial materials, as these can actually give off toxic fumes when exposed to high heat.
If you are using the sauna at a spa with other people, it’s considered polite to just enjoy it quietly. Unless you are only in it with people you know, it's best to whisper, or just remain silent and enjoy the peace, quiet, and heat!
In order to get the maximum benefit of the sauna, it's important to use it regularly. Exactly how often is up to you. Let your body be the guide. In some cultures, like in Scandinavia, people may visit the sauna everyday. You don’t have to go this often to enjoy the benefits, however. Some people experience better skin and relaxation with just one visit.
If you do use the sauna multiple times in the same day, remember to fully cool off in the middle. Many people will grab a nice cool shower and some fresh air in between visits. Remember the sauna is all about you and your body! Do what feels right and don’t push yourself to stay in longer or go more often than you need to. In fact, if you push it too much, it might have a negative effect on your body.
The sauna’s effect on the body is pretty impressive! It can send the temperature of the skin to over 100 degrees. You may lose nearly a pint of sweat. It will quicken your pulse and can change your blood pressure up or down.
For this reason, if you have any issues with your heart, blood pressure or any other medical concerns you should check with a doctor before you step inside a sauna.
Avoid drinking alcohol before or soon after you go in the sauna. This can magnify some of the effects, or even prevent you from sweating enough to cool down.
If you are sick, it's best to avoid the sauna. Your body is working hard to heal from illness, so the extra stress of being so hot isn’t really a good idea.
It's also really important to listen to your body when you are in the sauna. If you get to the point where you feel like you’ve had enough, don’t push it! Leave the sauna right away, and take a few minutes to relax and cool down.
Like many activities, don’t use the sauna alone, or without someone nearby. It is possible to faint due to the heat, and if you do, you’ll need some help getting to a cooler spot.
WHERE TO FIND SAUNAS
Saunas can be found in many gyms and spas across the country. If you’re already a member and they have a sauna, you can give it a try the next time you visit! Or, if you aren’t a member, ask for a “day pass” to check out the sauna and facilities to see if you like them.
Many people who want the maximum benefit of regular sauna use choose to put one in their home. Do it yourself sauna kits can easily be found online, and cost somewhere between $1500 and $10,000, depending on the size, type and features you like.
Some kits are for indoor use and are perfect for a basement or rec room. Others are meant to live outside. There are different types of heating methods that work best in different applications. At Sun Valley Saunas we carry awesome indoor saunas, outdoor saunas, traditional saunas and infrared saunas. If you're looking to jump start your healthy 2022 with your own at home sauna give us a call - we're here to help!