For the right reasons, Saunas have become a big part of health and wellness. For thousands of years, saunas have been a traditional practice and have been used for many health and skin care purposes. Even today, saunas are a common component of many cultures across the globe.
After all, what could be more soothing and gratifying than unwinding and resting in a sauna at the end of a long day? Besides helping you de-stress and recharge, saunas can improve your physical and mental health, skin, and overall quality of life. So, if you’re not well-versed about the benefits of sauna, stay with us!
What is Sauna?
A sauna is an indoor heated bath that combines heat, steam, and air in a closed space. It was initially used in Finland. Today, it is a part of many traditional healing practices worldwide. A sauna is typically a small wood-filled room or space that provides a dry heat experience. Saunas are traditionally used for relaxation, detoxification, and improving overall health. They can be found in a range of settings, including private homes, gyms, and spas.
Saunas are usually dry, and the heat inside a sauna typically ranges from 70°C to 100°C, and users may spend a few minutes or up to 20 minutes inside, depending on personal preference.
How Does a Sauna Work?
If you’ve experienced being inside a sauna, you might already know that the environment inside a sauna can be sweaty, making your heart pump and your whole body warm without actually exercising.¹ The heat generated by the sauna creates a pleasantly warm and humid environment. You can experience this when you enter the sauna. You’ll notice that your body temperature will rise as you inhale the warm air. As you breathe out, you’ll feel calmer. When you sit in the sauna, you can relax and unwind.² You’ll notice that you may feel more energetic and have an improved mood. Sweating out impurities is a proven therapy for numerous diseases.
Benefits of Sauna
As mentioned earlier, saunas offer several potential health and skin benefits. Here are some of the reasons why people use saunas:
- Relaxation: Sauna can help relax the body and mind, reducing stress and strain. This is one of the most prominent and desirable effects of sauna baths. Therefore, if you’re looking for ways to boost your mental and physical abilities, saunas can help you by reducing the tension and fatigue that piles up during the day.
- Improved Microcirculation: A healthy circulatory system ensures the prompt delivery of oxygen and nutrients to all body organs. The heat of the saunas causes blood vessels to dilate, which can enhance circulation and cardiovascular health. This is why you feel more alert and rejuvenated after using the sauna.
- Detoxification: Drawing out toxic components from the body is one of the human body's crucial functions that help keep it in its best health. Sweating in a sauna can help to stimulate the elimination of toxins in the body.
- Better Immune Function: Regular sauna use has been associated with improved immune function, which may help to protect against various diseases. A strong immune system can be responsible for keeping the body running smoothly.
- Pain Relief: Sauna use has been shown to help lower pain and inflammation in the body, potentially improving conditions such as arthritis and muscle soreness.³ The pain-reducing effect of the sauna may result in better lymphatic and circulatory systems functioning. Moreover, heat also aids in minimizing soreness, redness, puffiness, and irritation in the body.
- Skin Health: The heat and sweating associated with sauna use can aid in improving the skin's health and appearance. The heat from a sauna bath can produce sweat, which serves as a way of cleansing the pores. Also, saunas improve blood circulation, which enhances the skin’s tone and texture.
- Assists in Recovery: Saunas can be great for people who work out regularly, as their calming and healing effects can be beneficial in speeding up muscle recovery after exercise. Improved blood circulation in a sauna accelerates the regenerating process of the body. Also, the anti-inflammatory action of a sauna can relieve muscle soreness and tension.
- Aids in Better Sleep: If you’ve used a sauna, you may have noticed that you were able to have a deeper and better quality sleep afterward. This is due to the higher release of endorphins and lower release of cortisol in the body. These relaxing hormones can facilitate sauna lovers in having better sleep experiences.
- Promotes Metabolism: If you’re trying to get rid of some extra calories and get into your desired shape, you have another reason to use a sauna. Saunas have been seen to encourage calorie burn in many users. The sweating and detoxification process can help you lose some calories.
- Improved Athletic Performance: Sauna use may improve endurance and athletic performance by increasing blood flow and improving oxygenation of the muscles. Furthermore, it can help with muscle recovery after heavy physical activity.
Are There Any Risks Associated with Sauna?
While saunas may do wonders for many people, some should avoid using them or be cautious when doing so. These include:
- Pregnant Women: The high temperatures in a sauna can be unsafe if pregnant and can elevate the risk of birth defects.
- People with Certain Medical Conditions: People with high blood pressure, low blood pressure, heart disease, or other cardiovascular conditions should avoid saunas or consult with a healthcare provider before using them.
- Children: Children may not be able to tolerate the high temperatures in a sauna and are more vulnerable to dehydration, so it is recommended that they do not use them.
- People with Certain Skin Conditions: People with open wounds, rashes, or other skin conditions may find that the heat and humidity from a sauna exacerbate their symptoms.
If you have medical concerns or are unsure whether using a sauna is safe, you should consult a healthcare provider before doing so.
How to Build Sauna?
Creating a sauna at home is possible but requires some planning and preparation. Below are some steps to help you make a sauna at home:
- Pick a location: First, decide where to set up your sauna. Pick a dry, well-ventilated area with a nearby water source and an electrical outlet.
- Select a Sauna Heater: You will need a sauna heater to create heat in the room. Several heaters are available, including gas, electrical and wood-burning options.
- Choose the Sauna Walls and Ceiling: The walls and ceiling of your sauna can be made from various materials, including wood paneling, cedar planks, or tile. Ensure the materials you choose are safe to use in a high-heat environment.
- Add Seating: Install seating in your sauna, such as benches. Make sure they are made from a comfortable material to sit on and withstand the heat.
- Add lighting and ventilation: Install lighting and ventilation systems to improve the comfort and safety of your sauna. Adequate ventilation is critical to ensure the air inside the sauna remains fresh and breathable.
- Accessorize your sauna: You may want to add accessories to your sauna, such as a bucket and ladle for water, essential oils for aromatherapy, or a thermometer to monitor the temperature.
Saunas have always been a popular means of promoting health and well-being. From ancient cultures to contemporary civilization, saunas are widely used as an effective way of looking after your mind, body, and skin. The never-ending popularity of these saunas all over the world is due to the incredible benefits of saunas, which include revitalizing the mind and body, detoxification of waste materials, stress reduction, muscle recovery, pain relief, improved sleep, faster metabolism, healthier skin, weight loss, and much more. But, of course, the best thing is you only need a few minutes to reap the benefits!
- S. Brooklyn. (2023). ‘Benefits of Exercising for the Skin’, Sundree, Accessed May 19, 2023. Available at: https://sundree.com/blogs/news/benefits-of-exercising-for-the-skin
- Robinson, Lawrence and Segal, Jeanne Ph.D. and Smith, Melinda M.A. (2023). ‘Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief’, HelpGuide, Accessed May 19, 2023. Available at: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/relaxation-techniques-for-stress-relief.htm
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2023). ‘Arthritis’, Mayo Clinic, Accessed May 19, 2023. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350772