Who doesn’t know about sauna? Nowadays, Sauna bathes are health activities which are practiced by many people from different ages including youth and older. Sauna is also get meaning of a small room or building which is designed as a place where people can experience dry or wet heat from the steam and get perspiration. It is believed that sauna has many benefits to health especially in cardiovascular system. The basic sauna room usually consists of a wood-paneled room the bench and heat source.
History of Sauna
On around 326 B.C. Oribasius who were Greek medical writer and the personal sport physician of the Roman emperor Julian the Apostate used to treated sports injuries with heat, massage, water and air baths. Ancient Greek believed that, Asclepius the god of medicine, used water, air, light, hot and cold baths for medical and physical therapy. Herodotus, another Greek physician used helio or sun and hydro therapy.
In Europe, public baths especially steam bath were popular from the 13th to the 17th centuries. Later some societies in Europe did not allowed any sauna activities because it was misused as mask to cover sexual activities. The sauna made comeback after 1950 in Europe and became famous worldwide.
Early public steam baths of Romans and the Greeks and Romans using hot springs to create heat or thermae. The Russians and Turks also created some unique procedures and culture during bathing. People in Soviet call steam bath as “banvas” which the average temperature is 52 degrees C with a high level of humidity. The washroom of a banya in Russia can be really huge. It often can accommodate 30-70 bathers in a room. The native Americans had their own sweat lodge, completed with rock heat from hot rock and direct fired variants.
Type of sauna
There are two types of sauna that used by people nowadays, the traditional and modern one. It is categorized based on the heat source which used in the process.
- Traditional sauna usually use the steam from electricity with a log source or gas.
- Modern one use infrared as heat source.
Sauna Room and Temperature
The size of sauna room should be at least 3 m2 to allow suitable humidity, proper heat balance, and adequate ventilation. The temperature should between 80o -100o C at the face level and 30o C at floor level. The humidity should be relatively between 10% to 20% (40 to 70 g of water vapor/kg air) . Sauna ritual usually consists of several short stays (5 to 20 min) in the sauna, it is followed by cooling-off periods and fluid oral intake
The word “sauna” derived from Finnish word which means sweat bath. It is the only Finnish word that absorbed into the English language. Sauna is very popular among Finnish and has become their culture.
How it works ?
Normally a steam sauna needs 30 minutes to heat up at first started. Some individuals used to take hot or warm shower before the undergo sauna in effort to speed up perspiration in the sauna. When in the sauna people used to sit on available bench with towel on body to keep it hygiene and they also put a towel on their head to avoid getting too hot on face even the body feels comfortable
When doing sauna, people can adjust the level of heat or temperatures by :
- Control the amount of water that is thrown to the heater, this may increases humidity
- The length of time spending in sauna
- Position when doing sauna
Sauna benefits already known a century based on some research and real experience from people around the world.We may not realize that sauna has a lot of unexpected benefits. Here are the list of benefits which you can gain by doing regular sauna, there are 16 health benefits of sauna which have proven evidence :
1. Remove Toxin
It is known well that sweat is one of the ways for human body to release toxin. When the body heated the sauna, it will promoted skin pores opening and realease the sweat, bacteria and other toxin. Most of people nowadays are not actively secreting sweat in daily basis. Sweating here means deep sweating with large amount of sweat released by the body. It has been proved that sweating has bunch of benefits for health. Sauna can rise body temperatures and promotes deep sweating.
The blood vessels in body will be dilated due to the heat of sauna and increase the blood flow. The increasing of blood flow will trigger the nerveous system to send signal to sweat gland on skin surface. Later the sweat will be secreted to cooling down the body plus when it released out of the body it also bring the toxin out. Deep sweating also reduce the level of copper, lead, zinc, mercury and other metal toxin in the body. The more sweat excreted the more toxin flushed away from the body. While doing sauna it is suggested to consume plenty water to keep the body hidrated.
2. Help to lose weight
Many products of infrared sauna is offered in market. Most of them offer the benefits of sauna to lose weight. It is believed that sauna is one of therapy to help weight loss, of course with minimal effort and without exercise too much. During sauna, the body burns some calories and increasing heart rate.
As heart rates increases it needs more oxygen, and the body started to convert more calories from body fat and carbohydrates into energy. Based on scientific calibration in 20 minutes session of sauna can burn almost 500 calories with 170 degrees farenheit temperatures. Is also boost the body metabolism and its a great way to maintain healthy weight.
3. Strengthen Immune system
This one is may suprising you. Sauna has benefits to improve and strengthen immune system. Having regular sauna sessions can help the body to produce white blood cells. The white blood cells of the body is one of body who fight against pathogen, infections and ailments.
A study reported that people who use Sauna regularly have higher amount of white blood cells, they are healthier and if infection and illness occur, they will heal faster.
4. Saunas promote healthy mind and mental.
This benefit can’t be grabbed if you doing sauna alone. Sauna can help the mind to relax and it also promote socialization with other people in same sauna room. Having small chat or fun talk will help you to release some stress and it make you feel happier. We know that by increasing good mood we will have healthy mind and can easily control emotion. You could get this benefits from another sauna type such as benefits of steam sauna.
5. Improve body endurance
Our body needs more endurance when doin physical activity especially the heavy one like sport. Every individual has a certain level of body heat tolerance. Using sauna regularly can increase the threshold of heat tolerance and improve endurance. . This is why sauna user has higher endurance when doing sport. It will also help the body to experience less fatigue and maintain energy level over period of time. Some athletes are usually do sauna regularly to gain this benefits.
6. Promotes healthy hair
Human has a special gland in skin including the scalp that called the sebaceous gland or oil gland, this gland produces oil and other compounds to moisturize and condition the hair. Regular use of sauna can promotes healthy hair since spending some time in the sauna can significantly activates sebaceous gland that will make hair looks great. Sauna can be also a solution for them who has dry scalp and hair who are sensitive to chemical products in order to have beauty nourish hair.
7. Help recovered from workout
Most workout and gym center nowadays offer sauna as their service. This is a good resolution since sauna has benefits in recovering body from workout. Sauna can reduce muscle pain and throw out the metabolic waste such as lactic acid from the body so it can help them feel relaxed quicker.
8. Promotes healthy and younger skin
Steam bath or heat bathing is one of the healthiest way to improve healthier skin. As we know the older we grow the more dead skin accumulates in skin surface and clogging the pore, creating a dull skin. Regular sessions of sauna can improve blood flow to skin and help to fasten skin regeneration, replacing dead cell with new layer of skin. The oils which secreted by sebaceous gland during sauna are natural moisturizers and antibiotics that can clean the skin from bacteria from epidermal layer.
This is why sauna can promotes younger skin. A professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and author of “Ageless: Living Younger Longer,” Dr. Ben H Douglas, claim that sweating is a way to energize the skin and muscle. He also mentioned that the nutrients and minerals in sweat which secreted during sauna are important in order to maintain collagen structure of the skin.
9. Help to relieve stress
This one is actually should be the most important benefits of sauna. It is not surprisingly that sauna can reduce stress and anxiety. Based on medical studies that determine stress can give negative effect to health and promotes some illness occur example heart stroke. Sauna provides strees relief by relaxing the muscle, nerve and mind. When doing sauna, the body releases endorphins, a hormon that promotes good feeling and mood.
10. Relaxing and soothing muscle or joint pains.
As mentioned before that sauna can trigger the secretion of Endorphin, the “feeling good” hormone, sauna can help to relax the muscle and reduce muscle or joint fatigue. Sauna also increase body temperature which improve blood circulation. This conditions can speeds up the body’s healing process by soothing aches and pains and/or speeding up of the healing of minor bruises or cuts.
11. Induce proper sleep
Research has shown that sauna can improve the sleep quality. This is because the endorphin which released during sauna can facilitate good sleep. Most people who use sauna regularly have experienced deep sleep and calming sensation after treatment.
12. improve cardiovascular performance.
Medical research reported that heart rate can increase from 60-70 bpm (beats per minute) to 110-120 or 140-150bpm with intensive sauna. Using sauna regularly not only train the heart muscles and improve cardiac output and heart rate, but also help to maintain body’s regulatory system. Sauna bath can induce cardiac work until is 1.5 to 3.0 times greater than that which caused by vigorous walking.
13. Help fight cold, influenza and other illness
A German medical research about sauna in shows that saunas has significant effect in reducing risk of experiencing cold and influenza. This benefits is caused by the growing of white blood cell which facilitated by sauna. Sauna promotes the body to produce white blood cells more rapidly, that really helps to fight illnesses and it can kill Influenza and other pathogen viruses.
14. Fight allergies and Nausea
In addition, regular sauna activity can relieve nausea as the symptoms of sinus congestion which are uncomfortable. Sauna can also reduce allergies from cold by regulating more blood flows and purify the blood from toxin or allergen. Adding Eucaliptus or other aromatic essence while having sauna can add more benefits. The steam vapor which is produced by adding aromatic essence in sauna help to clear the congestion up.
15. Reduced severity of acne, eczema and psoriasis
Sauna can reduce severity of some skin problem. Acne usually happen because clogged pores and infection of bacteria. Sauna can reduce inflammation and clean the skin from oil and dead skin cell. This also work on people who suffer from eczema and psoriasis problem. Sauna promotes the growth of new skin cell so it can help the skin to recover from eczema or psoriasis.
16. Relief Arthritis symptom in people who suffer Autoimmune
Some research has found the effect of sauna to immune system. Sauna not only increase the number of white blood cells, it also can reduce the joint pain which caused by Autoimmune disease such as in Arthritis case.
How to do proper sauna ?
If you never experienced in sauna before, better you read carefully what things you should do before, in and after sauna
- Take cold or warm shower before start sauna
- Better use toilette before sauna if necessary
- Take off the clothes completely in changing area that provided in sauna facility
Sauna heat phase
- When entering sauna, choose comfortable place where you can sit on.
- You can all lay down at first if there is enough space and it is possible to do
- There is pre-sweat phase when you can add water if necessary. This phase will take 5 – 10 minutes
- Don’t stay longer if you don’t feel comfortable after 15 minutes sauna
- It is suggested to spend the last 2 minutes of sauna by sitting upright.
Cooling down phase
- Leave sauna immediately and quietly after it is finished.
- Spend at least 2 minutes in fresh air breath more oxygen and cooling down respiratory tract.
- take cold shower after sauna. Cool water will close the skin pores and cooling down the metabolism.
- If possible, do hot foot bath by putting your feet into hot water ( 40 degrees C )
- Possibly relax your body after sauna, take some nap or just sleep
Side effects of sauna
There are some side effects that may rise by having sauna without following rules. . These are some of them :
- Heart risk. Sauna can increase the heart rates and blood pressure. This may be dangerous for people with heart problem or when take the heats too long. Don’t push yourself beyond limit if you can not hold the heat for long time
- Dehydration. This is must happen when people having sauna. Deep sweating cause the body lose much fluid. Prolonged sessions of sauna increase the risks of having dehydration,which can be serious along with low blood pressure and further it can cause individual consciousness. Feeling weak after sauna is one sign that your body dehydrated. Don’t forget to drink plenty water to balance your body fluid
- Increasing body temperatures. Human body has their own optimum and maximum temperature which the metabolism can occur. Too much heat can be dangerous for body since it can interupt the body temperature. After sauna, the body will normally cooling down but it will be dangerous if after having sauna and excessive heat, the body can’t adjust the normal temperature. It will cause another health problem. So, its better to not spend more than 15 minutes in sauna.
People who should avoid having sauna :
- When individual having illness
- Patient with chronic diseases such as :
- serious Heart Disease
- lung disease
- thyroid hyperfunction
- kidney disease
Tips for sauna bathing
To avoid side effect or harmful effect of sauna better following these tips before you try the sauna :
- Its better to not eat any heavy meals before meals but don’t go to sauna with empty stomach.
- Before doing sauna, if you have any problem with health such as chronic disease , its better if you consult the doctor first.
- Remember to always enter sauna dry.
- When your body start heating or during warm phase don’t rub the body with ice or something to cool it down.
- Do sauna when you only feel good and end the phase when your body start to feel uncomfort.
- People with weak heart and hypertension should not have plunge bath after sauna.
- The cool-down phase should take same amount time with the warm-up phase.
- Do not think to consume alcohol or smoking when having sauna
- Some people think that they can burn more calories by doing some exercise or sport during sauna but seriously don’t do this because it will give the heart a heavy burden.
- To keep body hidrated, consume plenty waters after having sauna. You can also drink some fruit juice in order to add nutrition to your body.
- Wash your body with shower and dont forget to use gel or soap after completing sauna. Put some moisturizer to your skin also
Those are some explanation of benefits, risk and tips when doing sauna. Even sauna has many benefits to health, it is better if we keep doing it save. Wisely spend the time in sauna and do treatment after sauna will significantly make your body stay healthy.