Saunas – Health Benefits & Safety Guidelines
Saunas have a long history of providing health benefits dating back around 1,000 years. Scandinavian countries such as Finland have long understood their benefits and used them for health and wellness purposes. We’ve compiled the Top Ten “healthy reasons” for sauna use:
- Stress relief
- Relaxes muscles and soothes aches and pains in muscles & joints
- Flushes out toxins
- Cleanses skin
- Induces deeper sleep
- Social benefits – relaxed environment, quiet and intimate setting
- Improves cardiovascular performance
- Burns calories
- Fights illness
- Best of all – Feels good!
For many the sauna has been considered a luxury however as demonstrated by other countries and cultures such as Finland, making a sauna use a regular part of one’s health regime can provide health benefits (as listed above) that move beyond relaxation. People who regularly use a sauna report not just the health benefits but also those of an overall sense of well being.
Saunas, using either moist or dry heat, are typically designed as an enclosed “room” with temperatures set between 170 and 230 degrees F (Fahrenheit). The heat from the sauna causes body circulation to increase, sweating resulting in a detoxifying effect. Regular sauna users report feelings of relief of pain and stiffness from arthritis, improved skin complexion, quicker recovery from sore muscles and increased flexibility.
Harvard Medical School has recommended the following guidelines for safe use of a sauna:
- Stay in no more than 15–20 minutes.
- Cool down gradually afterward.
- Drink two to four glasses of cool water after each sauna.
- Don’t take a sauna when you are ill, and if you feel unwell during your sauna, head for the door.
Other safety measures to consider:
- Limit the amount of time in a sauna to 15 to 20 minutes
- Don’t fall asleep in a sauna!
- Make sure you drink a generous amount of water before, during and after sauna use
- If you feel lightheaded or don’t feel well, exit the sauna immediately
- It is best that you avoid alcohol and medications – anything that would inhibit sweating or cause your body to overhead before or after you use the sauna
- Do not use a sauna if you have a fever
- Make sure you remove jewelry – metal will most definitely heat up and cause burns to skin
As with other leisure/relation products, saunas are not for everyone. If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, you should consult with your physician before deciding to use a sauna. Pregnant women should be cautious with sauna use, as there is concern over the impact of the rise in temperature on the fetus. Again, always check with your doctor to decide what’s best for you when using any leisure product, especially if you have any of these conditions.