The sauna’s early history in Europe shows that it was not only fun (see above) but a place where women gave birth, bodies of the dead were washed, and diseases were cured. While this may seem strange to us, it does show how important and powerful saunas were to early users. An old Finnish saying goes, “saunassa ollaan kuin kirkossa,” – one should be in the sauna as in church, and we agree. The sauna’s heat mechanism is proven to have some important health benefits (and besides that, it’s just fun and relaxing to be there). Even today, women in Thailand spend hours in a makeshift sauna tent for a month following childbirth. The herb-infused steam is thought to speed up the mother’s recovery. Let’s highlight a few of the reasons why saunas can be a nice weekly or monthly addition to your personal time or social life:
1. It’s great for your overall well-being
Without getting too scientific about this, being in a sauna just feels good (especially if the dry heat temperature is not uncomfortably excessive). It could be because your body burns calories as your heart rate increases. The process also causes the release of endorphins, making you feel relaxed and stress-free. If you go alone it could be a nice time to be with yourself, but sauna time can also be social hour. Whether you go with friends or make friends there, the relaxed secluded environment can be a great place for quiet conversation.
2. It helps flush toxins and release stress
Being in the dry heat of the sauna causes deep sweating. This deep sweating can reduce levels of lead, copper, zinc, nickel, mercury and other harmful chemicals from the body. Even if this claim is exaggerated and the toxin release is minimal, leaving the sauna at the end of a session feels like you just did some serious detoxifying. The process will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed.
3. It helps cleanse your skin
The deep sweat you undergo in the sauna causes the body to expel dead skin cells. Cleansing of the pores has been shown to improve the capillary circulation, while giving the skin a softer-looking quality. Regular sauna usage has been linked with helping dry skin conditions.
4. It can treat chronic conditions
Studies have shown that regular sauna use can help with rheumatic pain (with cold shower), appetite loss, mild depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and anorexia nervosa. No matter if you have a long-standing condition or just some minor aches and pains, visiting the sauna just might alleviate your symptoms and accelerate recovery.
Do remember though that sauna usage isn’t for everyone. Some saunas cater to serious users who enjoy a super high temperature. Beware of really hot saunas especially if you’re just trying it out. Talk to your doctor if you have a serious heart disease before going. And don’t overexert yourself! If used correctly and in moderation, saunas could be a fun and healthy addition to your schedule.
What has your experience been like with saunas?