Sauna is a small room that is used for heat sessions by the bathers. The sessions can be both dry or wet which aim at making the body sweat due to heat present around. This further forces the body to work hard by pumping the blood faster, shedding of excess of salts, water and toxins from the body and increased rate of circulation within the body. This technique of increased perspiration has been used since olden times and was common in the Nordic region of Europe. In the contemporary times, the sauna is a widely used therapeutic technique to detoxify the body. The sauna therapy helps the body in several ways that shall be discussed later in this article.
What is a Sauna & How Does it Work?
A sauna is basically a small establishment or a room which is equipped with the ability to provide wet and dry seasons. The humidity levels of the room are low, but the temperature is quite high when compared to a steam room. The heating of sauna rooms is done either by pouring water over heated elements like wood, stones and electric heater, or through infrared radiations that heat up charcoal or carbon fibers. The room is usually lined with wood to ensure insulation to maintain the temperature. The bathers sit inside these rooms for around ten to fifteen minutes to get the desired effect of sauna.
How Does a Sauna Help Your Body?
The sauna provides several unexpected health benefits to the body, and that too within two or more sessions. Some of these benefits are enlisted below:
- Sauna Helps in Detoxification of the Body: Daily our body absorbs several toxins from its surroundings. When the body encounters the high temperatures of sauna, it starts sweating. This excess sweat and perspiration result in the removal of toxins and impurities like traces of mercury, lead, copper, zinc and nickel.
- Sauna Helps the Body in Immunity Boosting: Sauna is also a great immunity booster as it helps in increased production of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting illness, infections and ailments.
- Scalp Rejuvenation and Healthy Hair as a Benefit of Sauna: Sauna helps in maintaining the shine and health of hair by activating the sebaceous glands present on the scalp. These glands release certain compounds which help in moisturizing and conditioning of hair. Thus, sauna helps in rejuvenation of scalp.
- Sauna Helps in Skin Revitalization: Sauna also helps in making skin younger and revitalized as it helps in improving the blood flow in the skin and removal of dead cells. It also activates the secretion of essential oils in the skin that keep the skin young by relaxing the skin, keeping it soft and moist and improving the skin elasticity.
- Sauna helps in Relaxation of Mind and Body: Sauna helps in the release of endorphins in the body that help in soothing the mind and body and give a sense of wellbeing. It helps the body recover from fatigue, mental stress and strained muscles.
- Weight Loss Benefits of Sauna: Sauna is a great therapy for weight loss as it speeds up the metabolism of the body, which causes the body to burn more calories. It readily helps in losing the water weight, but it needs to be kept in mind that the body gets dehydrated after sauna therapy. Therefore, the lost water should be replenished. Frequently hydrating oneself is also required as it helps lowering the blood pressure.
- Sauna helps in Improving Blood Circulation: The increased rate of metabolism causes the heart to pump blood faster. This increased pumping of blood allows the blood vessels to expand, thus lowering the blood pressure.
- Sauna helps in Relieving Respiratory Congestion: Sauna helps greatly in case of cold, blocked sinuses, bronchitis and respiratory congestion. The steam generated in the sauna travels through the respiratory tract and clears the blockage.
- Joint Pain Relief: Sauna therapy works great for stiff joints, sore muscles and arthritis patients. The heat present in the sauna room has the effect same as that of heat packs that are used to soothe the joint pain.
Risks of Sauna for Your Body
Just as there are two sides of a coin, there are also some risk factors associated with sauna as well, which require precautionary usage of the facility. Some, such risks are:
- One can easily get athlete’s foot due to the easy growth of microbes in the hot and humid environment of the sauna.
- Dehydration is quite common when using a sauna; therefore, keeping the body well hydrated is one of the prime requirements.
- Hyperthermia or excess of heat in the body is also observed in a sauna which can be treated well with optimal water intake.
- Difficulty in breathing, in case the user suffers from asthma.
- Sudden death and arrhythmia can be encountered in the case of alcohol consumption.
Steps to be Followed While Taking a Sauna Bath
Since there are some risks involved while using a sauna, therefore there are some steps that need to be followed diligently, in order to ensure a safe therapy. These steps are:
- Taking a shower before entering the sauna, in order to prevent the growth of microbes on the body in the hot temperatures.
- One should stay in the sauna for only up to fifteen minutes and not beyond that, in order to prevent dehydration, hyperthermia or breathing problem.
- Taking a shower after sauna.
- Taking a brisk walk after the shower.
- After the walk, taking a cold shower to cool down and relax the body completely.
Sauna is a therapy that is being used for quite some time now, but its health benefits have been identified recently. The most believed in benefit of sauna is the weight loss; apart from this, other significant benefits of sauna include better circulation, stress relief, pain relief, healthy skin and hair. Though, there exist some cons to this therapy, but these can be escaped, if the sauna bath is taken following proper steps and precautions.