Advantages of sauna – what are they?
Saunas are places where people take hot steam bath. They originated in Finland and because of their variety of health benefits and advantages they are now popular all over the world. Initially wood was burned to heat the stones, then water was thrown over these stones to produce steam. Nowadays, due to restrictions over wood cutting and prevention of environmental pollution from burning wood, the water is heated electrically, by gas or solar power. Infrared dry sauna uses infrared rays to heat the skin – there is no steam because no water is used.
In sauna, a room with steam at temperatures from 70 to 90 degree centigrade, one can sit or lie down for the experience. After disrobing, one can relax for some time. Exposure to this temperature in the presence of moisture results in sweating, which opens up all the pores of sweat glands. The temperature increases the blood circulation and has a soothing effect on the whole body. After coming out from sauna, cooling down is very important. It requires a few minutes for the body to cool down outside the sauna when one can take a cold water bath.
Advantages of sauna
Visiting a sauna is very popular as it is a pleasurable experience both for our mind and body. The advantages of this activity are numerous:
Skin health – the sweating due to heat and the condensation of steam on body results in opening of pores. It cleanses the skin and improves the circulation of blood. Skin becomes clear, soft and smooth. Organic dirt and toxins are washed off the skin. Because of that it is advisable to wear minimal clothes in a sauna. If one wants to lie down then a towel spread should be used. After the sauna session, a bath with cold water should be taken to wash the sweat. It also closes skin pores, which may form a portal for entry of bacteria and skin infection. Fluids may also be consumed to replace the water and electrolyte loss during sweating.
- Body ache – the warmth of sauna results in relaxation of all muscle spasms. Also, the blood flow in muscles improves and because of that the chemicals producing pain are washed out. These changes bring relief from some types of pain. In people with stiffness of joints related to arthritis, the joint mobility improves. Many sportsperson take sauna therapy after heavy exertion to prevent muscle cramps. Large sports center also have sauna facilities for relaxation after a stressful competitive event.
- Relief from congestion of the upper airway – many people find sauna especially useful when they have common cold, sinusitis and bronchitis. It has similar effects like steam inhalation which helps in relieving the congestion and improvement of symptoms.
- Mental relaxation - the quietness in sauna lets one focus the thought process and may help in calming the mind. It reduces undue mental tension, stress and fatigue. It increases mental energy and alertness. The feel of warmth makes us peaceful and visiting a sauna is especially recommended in colder countries with less Sun during the year.
Saunas are safe when used for a limited period of time which is usually 15 to 30 minutes. Prolonged exposure may result in excessive sweating and dehydration. Exposure to high temperature may cause hyperthermia. People with cardiac diseases and hypertension should take adequate precautions and consult their physician. People under the influence of alcohol should not be permitted inside sauna. Steam burns and injury due to fall on the slippery floor may occur accidentally.
Availability of sauna
Sauna facilities are usually available in resorts, star hotels, cruise ships, leisure clubs, spas, gyms, swimming pools and sports centres. Beauty treatments and different types of massages usually are available at many of these places. People who can afford have sauna at their home. In some countries (Japan, Korea, India) public saunas are segregated as per gender and nudity is prohibited while in other countries (Australia, Canada, France, UK) nudity may be permitted with gender segregation.
There are many advantages of sauna – it is a simple yet effective way to relax in the modern life where one has to face tension at work, traffic pollution and other chemicals in the environment that are harmful to the skin. At the same time people should be aware of all associated contradictions and avoid overexposure.