Saunas are becoming increasingly popular all over the world, as one of the essential parts of a healthy living lifestyle. These popular fixtures in many health clubs, along with steam baths and whirlpool baths, are a trendy means to relax. First, let us distinguish these several terms:
- Sauna is a small room, enclosed, that features dry heat and is usually made of wood. Heat retaining stones heated by oven or stove, push the temperature up to about 190°F. The humidity, maintained at 5% to 25%, varies on the amount of cold water thrown on the heating stones.
- Steam baths have the moist air, the temperature is held to 120°F, and the humidity is maintained at about 90%.
- Whirlpool baths are sized and shaped like standard bathing tubs. They produce a single whirling stream of hot water, controlled by the amount of hot water that we allow into the tub.
- Whirlpool spas are bigger, suitable for several people, have the built-in heating device and made of acrylic or fiberglass.
- Hot tubs resemble whirlpool spas but are made of wood. The temperature in baths, spas and tubs never exceeds 100°F.
The Sauna or a “Finnish bath” is a two thousand years old Finnish tradition. There are about 1,000,000 sauna baths in Finland. Four million Finns visit saunas for relaxation each week.
The steam bath is known as “Hamam” in Oriental countries, where it is practised at all times as a kind of ritual. In the Oriental culture, the “Hamam” is a place that allows deep relaxation and where you forget the stress, duties and worries of everyday life. A bath cleans the mind. Besides, hammams are a place of pleasure, a meeting place for businessmen and friends.
In Mexico, there is a similar tradition but with the name Temazcalli (steam house). This bath is used in the Central American cultures and still preserved in many areas.
There is no unique take on right or wrong sauna temperature. It differs depending on factors as age, health or health conditions of users. It also depends on the type of sauna.
There are three different types of sauna:
- Finnish sauna with a temperature range of 160°-194°F (70°-90°C) in North America, because of the regulations on maximum allowable sauna temperature. In Europe and Russia, these conventional saunas can be heated up to over 200°F.
- Steam sauna temperature range is 90°-120°F (30°-50°C).
- Infrared sauna heats the objects in the sauna instead of air. Temperature range is 80°-125°F (26°-52°C).
Some parts of the sauna etiquette are the same everywhere. We presented them in simple several Do’s and Don’ts.
- Shower first and enter the sauna clean.
- Be quick when you enter or leave the sauna, cause it lets the steam out.
- Always wear a towel or a bathing suit, if you are not in Scandinavia, where it is alright to go into the sauna naked.
- Bring your own towels, preferably one to sit on, one to cover yourself with, and one to dry off when you leave.
- Keep the noise down. The Sauna is a place for relaxation and you should respect the place and everyone in it.
- Keep your personal space, and respect the space of the others.
- Refrain from staring.
- If you want to change anything, ask first.
- Over-water the heating rocks, they let off a lot of heat, and it may become unpleasant for someone who shares this space with you.
- Work out in sauna unless you’re alone in there.
- Leave debris behind.
- Bring your electronics to the sauna.
- Shave or groom in the sauna.
- Sauna is not the clothes dryer, so don’t bring your clothes in with you.
Health Benefits of Sauna
1. Clearer and cleaner skin
Sweating helps in removing toxins from your skin and destroys the bacteria that could be formed in acne pimples. Regular use of sauna increases collagen production and minimises wrinkles by making skin more elastic. The sauna can be productive in supporting the healing process in some skin diseases that are not triggered by infections.
2. Strengthens cardiovascular system
Sauna effects are beneficiary for the heart. Some studies found that systolic blood pressure can decrease from 10 to 20 points depending on the length of the period of regular visits to the sauna. It is proven that it helps with heart rhythm abnormalities for people with congestive heart failure. The risk of heart attack is not higher in the healthy population during baths in the sauna.
3. Helps with weight loss
Not in a classic way. You do lose twice as many calories while you’re inside the sauna than outside, but that is insignificant. Calories you burn through sweating will be regained on first drink of water. But it boosts your metabolism, so if you visit it regularly it can be excellent support for other ways of weight loss.
4. Prevents colds and reduces cold duration
People who use saunas regularly catch half as many colds than those who don’t according to Austrian scientific study. Sweating it out in the sauna was used for thousands of years by various nations around the world as the cure for common cold.
5. Relaxation and recovery of mind and body
Helps the nervous system relax and causes a sense of comfort. Causes the increased release of Beta-Endorphin and Dopamine. So, that leads to a better mood, sense of calm, improved energy and tolerance to pain.
6. Boosts immune system
Number of white blood cells in the bloodstream increases during the sauna session, so the ability of our body to fight diseases elevates. Sauna use relieves the body of a significant number of toxins through sweating. The composure of regular sweat and the one induced in the sauna differs. The first one is 95% water. The other one is 80% water, and the rest is made of cholesterol, metal toxins, fat-soluble toxins, sodium, ammonia, sulfuric acid, and uric acid.
7. Training effect
According to the recent study, sauna improves performance for runners who recover in the sauna after training. It also allows athletes who use it regularly to perform better in warmer conditions, cause their body adapts better to the heat stress.
8. Helps in treatment of respiratory system disorders
Lung capacity increases in the sauna for 10% – 14%, according to 1988. research conducted in Helsinki. Therefore, people with chronic bronchitis and asthma report improved symptoms report easier breathing while in the sauna.
9. Improved joint mobility
Steam is an excellent muscle relaxant, relieves aching muscles, and helps in cases of arthritis to improve the mobility of the joints. It also helps with chronic rheumatism and disc damage.
10. Promotes good circulation
Because the heat dilates blood vessels. Good blood circulation is essential to the health of the body. Among other things it is good for low blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes, cell growth, and keeps your skin and hair well-nourished and healthy.
All these benefits and good sides of sauna bathing are possible with the moderate use of the sauna. Do not exceed visits to the sauna over your own possibilities and please use common sense, cause that kind of behaviour can only result in serious harm to your health. There are some health conditions that require that you consult a doctor to see if the sauna baths are suitable for you. If that is the case with you, please take care and consult your doctor before you expose to the heat.