Lots of people like to be pampered. They may go for spa days that include massages or have their fingernails painted and sculpted. Some folk chooses to have saunas as a means of relaxation, recreation, and therapy. Amazingly, the ancient Mayans used heated rooms as far back as 3,000 years ago.
It may be that you have heard of them, but wish to know more before you try one. Let’s go on a learning journey together, as we discover the exciting world of saunas.
What they are
Imagine a small room that’s very hot and steamy. The temperature could be anywhere between 70 and 100 degrees Celsius, and the humidity levels will be constantly regulated. When your skin begins to heat up, sweating will begin. On average, people secrete a pint every time they go for a session.
There are dry and wet saunas, with the latter also being also known as steam rooms. It’s common to find pleasantly smelling rocks present. There may also be a ladle available that you can use to pour water over them. This will generate steam and temporarily increase the temperature.
Anyone who is interested in learning more can discover a lot of free information online. When it comes to steam vs infrared people can find out which is the most effective. They can also learn about steam rooms, and what their health benefits are. They may include help for people with pulmonary issues related to the heart and lungs.
The different options
Both wood-burning saunas and those that are electrically heated maintain low levels of humidity but high temperatures. Steam rooms produce moist heat and high levels of humidity. Infrared rooms are a more modern innovation, and they use special lamps that are aimed at the person’s body. The light waves produced generate a lower amount of heat than other saunas (typically around 60 degrees Celsius). Interestingly, the sauna associations in Finland do not view infrared rooms as genuine saunas.
Finnish saunas are the most popular in the world. They have been used in that country for several thousand years. Even today one in three Finns regularly have one, and the city of Tampere is known as the sauna capital of the world.
When it comes to personal preference, some people favor Turkish-style saunas which have a greater level of humidity. Saunas vary all over the world and are certainly very widespread. They can be found in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Canada to name but a few locations.
The health benefits
Saunas can provide a source of stress relief. They also increase a person’s blood circulation, thus easing arthritis pain and reducing muscle soreness. Peoples’ joint movements can also be enhanced. Saunas increase peoples’ heart rates to between 100 and 150 beats per minute. This is similar to that experienced during other cardiovascular exercises such as swimming or running.
More research is needed to confirm this, but Finnish studies indicate that regular sauna users have less chance of dying from cardiovascular disease. There were also reduced risks of developing Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. When regulated correctly, saunas may also be an effective way to reduce someone’s blood pressure.
Areas where you need to take care
People who suffer from atopic dermatitis should avoid using saunas. So should anyone with kidney disease, due to the potential for becoming dehydrated. Alcohol and saunas don’t go together, so be careful when holidaying and visiting leisure complexes. It’s especially dangerous if the drinker suffers from low blood pressure, and in the worst-case scenario, it could be fatal. Besides the risk of sudden death, there could also be an increased likelihood of developing hypertension, dehydration, or arrhythmia.
One of the best ways to benefit from having a sauna is to go elsewhere afterward to cool down. If there is a cool water pool, jump right in. Then you can later return to the sauna. If someone has high blood pressure, however, the drastic temperature changes could put a dangerous strain upon the person’s heart. It’s therefore advisable for anyone with a heart condition to be wary of using a sauna. Pregnant ladies also need to avoid using them in order to protect both their health and the baby.
Just as saunas have been around for a very long time, they are set to endure long into the future. Besides being a pleasurable activity, they may also offer a range of different health benefits. Perhaps you are planning a special day out, and this could be a viable option.
Elena Deeley did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.