What are the benefits of sauna? This is something I have been pondering lately as I really miss my Finnish sauna. I grew up with a sauna in the house, just like almost all Finnish people do and it has always been a big part of my life. Here is UK the saunas are ok, but they are really not the same. The real and the best sauna for me is the wooden fire, summer cottage sauna. After heating yourself up, you dive into the fresh natural lake and afterwards you feel so relaxed and healthy.
In Finnish culture, sauna has been used since the dawn of time and all the houses will have their own. If you live in an apartment block, there is always shared facilities you can book and use every week. Of course Finland is much colder than UK over winter months so it is well needed, but sauna is great during the heat of the summer as well. I feel the sauna’s heat will warm up the whole body all the way to the bones and afterwards you always feel warm for quite a long time. This is definitely the case after a hot shower as it really does not warm you up the same way.
HISTORY OF SAUNA
As I mentioned previously the sauna has been part of Finnish culture for a very long time. The first recorded sauna texts are from 1112. The earliest saunas were dug in the ground and later built with wooden logs. One of the first sauna types was the smoky sauna, where there was no chimney, but the smoke was left to built inside. You can still find this type of saunas in Finland. Later on the sauna was built with chimney, creating the heated cottage type commonly used today. The sauna is nowadays used all over the world., which is great to see. As there are many benefits of sauna, I can see why it has become so popular.
TYPES OF SAUNA
Nowadays there are different types of saunas. In Finland you can still find the smoky sauna, but the most common sauna is the electric heated dry sauna. This is the sauna type in modern houses. A good second would be the wooden fire sauna in summer cottages. As the sauna is becoming more and more popular, now there are also small infrared saunas available. This can be incorporated in small spaces and bathrooms. As nice as the heat in this type of sauna is, to me it will never been the same experience. Steam room sauna can also be included as part of sauna family. These are common in public spaces like gyms and spas.
SAUNA CULTURE IN FINLAND
Typically Finnish people use their sauna every week, once or twice. You can hardly ever find a bathtub in a Finnish home. Sauna will also often feature in business meetings, workplace gatherings and nights in with friends. It’s common to go to sauna after a meeting, which is then more casual and relaxed part. Many people have a summer cottage somewhere by the lake they go to on weekends. This sauna type is most commonly with a wooden fire and no running water. I would never even dream about not going to sauna if I am invited to spend some time at a summer cottage. Often you go to sauna and swimming several times and spend a good amount of time enjoying the experience. Afterwards you would often enjoy BBQ and just chill out as most summer cottages do not have electricity.
BENEFITS OF SAUNA
Sauna has numerous health benefits which is probably why it is becoming more and more popular. It can work wonders for active and athletic people, but heating up the body and muscles. This can be greatly beneficial when recovering from hard training session. Perfect for marathon runners or other practising long distance endurance sports. The heat also works well for elderly people with poor circulation. Sauna can warm up the body properly from head to toe. It is also fabulous for treating arthritis and rheumatism.
The heat and sweating is great for detoxing the body. You can properly deep sweat out toxins and help the body to heal and recover. It is a great way to support the body’s healthy balance and can be helpful when recovering from illness, such as a cold or flu. A good heating of the body will help to kill viruses and aid with congestion or coughs.
Sauna is also great for skincare. The heat will open up the pores to cleanse the skin keeping it smooth and glowing. Hydrate the skin afterwards with some beautiful body oil and see the results immediately. Sauna gives your skin a healthy, vibrant glow and helps to keep the pores clean.
Other benefits of sauna include for example weight loss, as the heat will increase calorie consumption. This should of course only be a part of your weightless programme. It also has psychological benefits as sauna is a therapeutic place. Sauna can relax the body and mind and increase the quality and depth of sleep and is one of the best places for reflection and meditation. For us Finnish people it will most certainly always be a somewhat sacred place. Sauna is a place where you always feel relaxed and at ease and it makes you feel good.
If you are new to using sauna, be aware of your own tolerance to heat. it is good to remember to keep yourself well hydrated so you won’t start feeling light headed and dizzy. It is good to avoid alcoholic drinks as they are de-hydrating for the body. Alcohol can also have an effect on your balance which is not ideal in a hot space. If you suffer from high blood pressure, maybe stay away from top temperatures and limit the time you spend in sauna. Listen to your body, if you are feeling any any way unwell, leave and try to drink plenty of water to hydrate. If you have an injury or are suffering from any long term illness, check with your doctor first. Sometimes heat is not the best treatment.