Advantages of Sauna for Both Body and Mind
Advantages of Sauna for Both Body and Mind
Sauna bathing has its roots in Scandinavia, specifically Finland, where the Finnish sauna is the most renowned form of this practice. Owing to its numerous health benefits, saunas have gained popularity globally, not only as a wellness amenity but also in private homes, resorts, and swimming pools. In this article, we will delve into the mechanics of the sauna, explore various types of saunas, discuss their health effects, and highlight the contrasts between the Finnish sauna and the infrared sauna.
The Historical Evolution and Mechanics of Saunas
Saunas, or an early form of them, have likely been known to Nordic peoples for over two thousand years. Originally used for bathing, they were also employed during significant life events such as births and funerals due to their association with cleanliness. In the 17th century, European travelers encountered saunas and observed how Scandinavians generously offered their guests the chance to experience the hot rooms and participate in the traditional practice of beating each other with birch branches.
A sauna is essentially a heated room, but the methods of generating heat have evolved over time. Until the early 20th century, the smoke sauna was the prevalent form. It involved a separate wooden house with a fire that, once reduced to embers, allowed people to enter the room. These structures lacked chimneys, leading the smoke to escape through the door. While in use, there was relatively little smoke inside, but significant soot was produced, raising concerns about hygiene and health effects. Subsequently, saunas utilizing chemical means were developed, now known as “conventional” Finnish saunas. In recent times, infrared saunas have gained popularity.
In Finnish saunas, the heat is no longer solely generated by a wood stove but can also be produced using electricity or gas. Regardless of the heat source, it warms sauna stones upon which water is poured to create the desired humidity.
In contrast, infrared saunas operate on an entirely different principle. They use infrared rays to directly heat the body. These facilities can contain ceramic heating elements, which take a bit longer to heat up but are easily warmed. However, carbon-based heating elements have become dominant over time. These elements are larger and have a lower surface temperature.
Differences Between Finnish Saunas and Infrared Saunas
In a Finnish sauna, the stones are heated using a stove, and water is poured over them to control humidity. The temperature can reach up to 90 degrees Celsius. After turning on the sauna, one must wait for it to reach the desired temperature, and it is advisable not to use the sauna more than twice a week. While there are numerous benefits, the high temperatures can be taxing on the body and are not recommended for certain health reasons.
On the other hand, an infrared sauna operates at a much lower temperature, typically ranging from 35 to 45 degrees Celsius, where infrared rays directly heat the body. The core of the infrared sauna is the infrared emitter, which emits invisible rays with a specific wavelength. These long-wave infrared radiations penetrate the skin and muscle fibers to a depth of 3.5 to 4 cm, achieving the desired effect at a gentler temperature. Sweating is 3-4 times more intense with this type of treatment, and sweat is not only produced through the sweat glands but also through the sebaceous glands. In a traditional sauna, sweat is approximately 97% water, whereas in an infrared sauna, it consists of 80% water and 20% fat, cholesterol, and other fat-soluble toxins. As a result, it has a more potent impact on body shape and serves as an adjunct measure for weight loss. The infrared sauna can be used daily and is ready for immediate use after turning it on.
Sauna sessions are typically conducted in cycles, involving spending 15-20 minutes in the heat and then cooling down the body outside in various ways, such as showering, standing in cool air, or even immersing oneself in ice holes in northern areas.
The Benefits of Sauna Bathing
As mentioned earlier, sauna bathing goes beyond being a mere wellness service; it also offers numerous health benefits. It positively impacts various organs and enhances the overall functioning of the human body, including blood circulation, the immune and nervous systems, and the musculoskeletal system.
Regardless of the type of sauna, they all have a stimulating effect on the body, boost metabolism, aid in the elimination of toxins and waste products, and contribute to skin tightening and rejuvenation.
The Finnish sauna has several positive effects on the body. It can increase the heart rate, thereby promoting blood circulation. Additionally, it is recommended for alleviating issues like allergies, eczema, inflammation, and muscle pain.
Sauna bathing is beneficial for both maintaining overall health and treating specific problems. It aids in wound healing and has a positive impact on mood. During a sauna session, the body releases endorphins, which have a relaxing and mood-lifting effect. This helps reduce stress levels, particularly after a busy workday, leading to an improved quality of life. Athletes also utilize saunas to warm up their muscles and aid in post-exercise recovery.
Considerations for Sauna Bathing
As the saying goes, even something beneficial can have its drawbacks, and the same applies to sauna sessions. As mentioned earlier, it is important to limit Finnish sauna sessions to a maximum of twice a week and avoid staying in the sauna for prolonged periods. Infrared saunas can be used more frequently, but it is still recommended to restrict usage to once a day.
The high temperature in the sauna significantly impacts the heart and internal organs, leading to an increased heart rate. While this generally poses no negative effects on a healthy body, it can be problematic for certain illnesses or during pregnancy.
When using public saunas, be mindful of proper etiquette. While being nude may be expected or allowed in some countries and resorts, it is generally not well-received. Avoid wearing bathing suits made of synthetic fibers or ones soaked in chlorinated water, as they can emit unpleasant odors and cause skin irritations. Additionally, avoid using plastic flip-flops, as thermoplastic materials can be harmful to health. If you are actively ill, especially with a contagious condition, it is best to avoid public saunas. It is also not advisable to raise body temperature further when experiencing a fever.
Taking a shower before and after each sauna session is recommended. Before sauna bathing, it is essential to remove makeup, deodorant, creams, and dirt from the body, as they can cause discomfort. Taking a bath after sauna bathing helps cool down the body, especially since you sweat heavily during the session.
Fluid intake is of utmost importance. Since we lose water continuously in the sauna, it is vital to replenish fluids between sauna sessions. Drinking water during breaks will help keep your body hydrated. However, eating or drinking in the sauna is not recommended, and it is advisable to avoid consuming anything for one to one and a half hours before sauna bathing, as it can disrupt digestion.
In some Scandinavian countries, sauna bathing is associated with enjoying beer. However, it is strongly advised against consuming alcohol during sauna sessions as it intensifies sweating and can lead to overheating.
Various Types of Sauna Baths
Sauna bathing offers a multitude of benefits, including relaxation, rejuvenation, preparation for physical activities, and improved mental abilities. The ability to tolerate sauna heat varies from person to person and may benefit from professional training or guidance from health experts. In such cases, it is advisable to follow the advice of professionals.
Here are different types of sauna baths:
Activating Sauna Bath:
Performed before strenuous physical or mental activities to prepare the body for active work. After entering the heated room once, one cools down through showers or in the swimming pool. If avoiding physical activities, intense muscle cooling is not recommended.
Tonic Sauna Bath:
Similar to the activating sauna bath, but the cycle is repeated twice. It provides a refreshing and relaxing effect, leaving one feeling invigorated after a short rest period. In some places, like Finland, kindergartens offer tonic sauna baths to children during the day.
Relaxing Sauna Bath:
Usually done after a tiring workday, followed by a few hours of rest after the final cooling phase. It has a soothing effect and can aid in recovery after intense physical or mental exertion. For this reason, it is also recommended as a complementary treatment for certain illnesses.
Exhaustive Sauna Bath:
A more intense and relaxing sauna treatment, consisting of up to 5 cycles. It is often used by individuals suffering from sleep disorders. After five cycles, any activity becomes demanding, but the sleep that follows is light and pleasant.
Other variations can be considered as irregular sauna baths and typically involve more than 5 cycles. The duration of each cycle may vary from person to person, but it is not recommended to stay in the sauna for more than 15-20 minutes at a time. Even if short cycles are repeated for hours, prolonged sauna bathing may prove to be more harmful than beneficial to the body.
Sauna for Your Home: Experience the Nordic Specialty
Enjoying the numerous benefits of a sauna in the comfort of your own home has never been easier with Wellis saunas. We offer a variety of sizes and designs to bring this Nordic specialty right to your doorstep.
Our Finnish sauna model, Calidus, can accommodate up to six people, ensuring comfortable relaxation. It features an interior made of Canadian hemlock wood and sturdy 8mm thick safety glass doors. The elegant wood paneling also houses heat-resistant lighting.
For those who prefer infrared saunas, we have excellent options available. These saunas are incredibly easy and cost-effective to operate, typically requiring no special modifications to the power supply. Their energy consumption is only slightly higher than that of a vacuum cleaner. Our Helios Hemlock sauna, designed for one person, is perfect for those seeking to enjoy the benefits of a sauna in solitude.
Can’t decide between the two technologies? No worries! We offer a combined sauna, the Eclipse Hemlock sauna, which features both a Finnish sauna stove and eight infrared heaters. This way, you can choose the technology that suits you best at any given time. The energy-efficient Redlight™ heating elements provide superior effectiveness while consuming only a fraction of the energy used by conventional heating elements. With a lifespan of 5-7,000 hours, they are built to last. To enhance your sauna experience, we’ve also included color therapy LED lighting and two built-in speakers.
Our saunas are delivered in flat packs, and we recommend seeking professional assistance for assembly to maintain the warranty. Contact our staff for a personalized offer, and you can relish the warm comfort of our sauna in your home every day!