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What are the Health Benefits of Sauna

Updated on July 15, 2013

Sauna Sense and Sensibility

It is a weekend and you deserve to pamper yourself well and relieve the built-up stress otherwise known as lactic acid which result into aching muscles in your body. The question is: where to go and get both done? Well there are a lot of options to choose from but there is nothing like old time favorites and that is going to the sauna. Like everything else it will be good to know the benefits and pitfalls to make an informed choice regarding this form of relaxation. Weighing the consequences and its advantages will not only make you spend wisely but also will help you choose well what is best to suit what is most beneficial for you. Going to sauna baths may also be another way to meet new friends who like you share the necessity of relieving the tension from home or work and most probably be a venue for interesting social interactions.

An old Finnish saying states that “sauna is a poor-man drugstore’. Relatively speaking with the ancient use of heat there was not much spent on expensive medications to relieve symptoms and cure diseases. In fact, in olden times heat is an important instrument for healing and warding off evil spirits. Notwithstanding the versatility and trusted effects that it can produce the basic principle it has from the beginning would still be relevant to the modern times.

Sauna baths induce a fever-like state in an artificial fashion therefore the medical aspect that fever plays is in relation to the body’s natural defensive mechanism is most therapeutic. The humidity inside the sauna bath makes the person inhale hotter air which makes flu viruses impossible to thrive. This is further confirmed by a study in 1989 which was done in Germany which found out that people who are steamed two times a week only got half as many colds as those who were not exposed.

What are Sauna baths?

Its origin is from a Finnish term which means a room where water is hurled or splattered upon an object and in most cases this would mean hot stones which are used to yield about steam or heat. The basic principle is to utilize heat to as high as 185 degrees Fahrenheit or an equivalent of 85 degrees Celsius. Accordingly, the utilization of steam is for the practical benefits it can provide medically. The major effect that steam can give is to promote dilation or expansion of the blood vessels making blood flow easy and efficient.

What are its benefits?

Beauty and Blush – as skin temperature reaches a fever-pitch level about 102-104 degrees Fahrenheit or 39-40 degrees Celsius in minutes inside sauna baths the process of profound blood flow towards the skin and away from internal organs begin. The heat naturally opens up the pores of the skin which then causes the person to sweat. Sweat facilitates detoxification or cleansing of the body by removing toxic substances through this process leaving a healthy blush on the face enhancing and maintaining a radiant glow.

Fit and Right – heat generates a faster metabolic activity in the body therefore it promotes dramatic weight loss for those who regularly go to sauna baths coupled with a regimen of a balanced diet. It is said that it takes 15-20 minutes inside a sauna to make an equivalent of an hour’s exercise or converted to an hour or two of brisk walking which mean about 183 calories are burnt per hour. However, it is worthy to take note that the amount of weight loss would vary depending on the physical condition of the person. An average individual will sweat about 16 fluid ounces or one pint but with inside the sauna the intensity and amount of sweating can double or triple in quantity thus making the body sweat without necessarily going into the rigor of a strenuous exercise regimen. According to a study at the University of London, the neuron-endocrine and hormonal systems are greatly ameliorated. As well as the testosterone levels in men and the estrogen levels in women show an increase after going to the sauna.

Stand and Deliver – another effective result is that the heat of the sauna bath can relieve the tension of the muscles and alleviate joint pains by improving blood circulation. Not only this, the immune system of the body is also stimulated due to the increased temperature and the steam generated can help cure the common cold and other upper and lower respiratory tract infections. In addition to the many health benefits that heat can provide, it can also induce sleep and relieve insomnia.

What are some precautionary measures to consider?

Consult your doctor especially if you have certain heart conditions that require unnecessary exposure to extreme temperature. As the pulse rate increases to about 25-30%, the workload of the heart doubles. The blood pressure may vary in its rise and fall therefore it is good to note the possible adverse consequences especially so with certain medical regimen.

Stay away from drinking too much alcohol when planning to go to a sauna as this would potentially cause overheating of the body. Likewise, if under a prescribed regimen with certain medications that might impair sweating, it is best to avoid taking a sauna bath.

For those persons with open wounds or inflammatory conditions and those with known infectious diseases such as varicella, mumps and other diseases that can be spread easily to avoid going to the sauna to prevent further harm on other individuals in a public sauna bath.

It is recommended to hydrate oneself most especially after going to the sauna. Take 2-4 glasses or half a liter of cold water in order to prevent dehydration and replenish lost fluids in the course of the bath.

The ideal time to immerse oneself for a sauna bath is between 15-20 minutes. Health experts recommend no more than 20 minutes as most therapeutic.

In cases when one feels sick or in any way feels uneasy while taking a sauna bath he/she should refrain from doing so. Difficulty of breathing and or a feeling of suffocation are some signs that must be noted carefully.

What are some of the types of sauna?

There are varied types of sauna baths available. Depending upon the person’s preference it could range from dry to wet, traditional to modern and more recently the rise of home saunas. But there are a lot to choose from when it comes to combining the effects of leisure, relaxation and therapeutic effects of saunas. Here are some of the most common ones:

Wet saunas basically thrive on moisture therefore a minimal amount of water is placed over the stones to produce evaporation.

Dry saunas let the sweat be formed on the skin in order to produce a soothing feeling

Traditional saunas can either be wet or dry saunas. It may include heat generated from electricity or from wood fire.

Modern saunas may be in the form of an incandescent heat lamp so that the emitted infrared rays can penetrate the body to produce warmth. Another kind can be that which is emitted from a ceramic or metallic substance. Additional effect can be derived from this type of sauna is color therapy.

Herbal saunas can take the form of aroma therapy as herbs or other essential oils are used to provide a soothing and relaxing smell while inside a room with warm temperature

Barrel saunas require immersing the neck and the portion below it to a relatively higher temperature of 140-170 degrees Fahrenheit

Home saunas can be installed right in your very own home and therefore convenience and hygiene are highly appreciated. It takes the form similar to barrel saunas.

How many times should you go to the sauna?

Health experts highly recommend that going at least once in every week is beneficial for any individual. This would promote a profound sense of well-being and health encompassing both the mind and the spirit. The benefits that sauna can give will almost always vary among individuals therefore it would be best to know the parameters especially if with a particular medical condition.

No matter what your choice, purpose and reason for opting to go to sauna baths, it is a worthy experience to try at least once or twice in your lifetime. Perhaps you may want to try other types but the most important and basic thing is to have a clear idea on what you are engaging into highlighting the benefits and or dangers it can pose on your health and well-being. In this time and age where stress is a dominant resident, your way of coping with it will really spell the big difference in preventing diseases and improving your way of life. Take command in your life by knowing measures to alleviate the signs and symptoms before sickness sets in. This would lead to living a healthier and more productive life, not necessarily stress-free but in a way by which is controllable and kept at bay.

Benefit of sauna : Read The Truth about sauna 1-800-376-1799


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    • janeenjesse@yahoo profile image

      Joanne Kathleen Farrell 5 years ago from Rensselaer NY

      I have always felt a sauna helps kill cold and flue viruses. I would like to install a barrel sauna myself. Great hub.

      Joanne Kathleen Farrell, author of Liberty for the Lion Shield

    • profile image

      SusieQ42 5 years ago

      Your hub makes me wish for a sauna! Sounds wonderful and relaxing...voted up and interesting.

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 5 years ago from California

      It has been so long since I have been to the Sauna, so this is a good reminder! Thanks for sharing FG!

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