What are the benefits of saunas?
Hydrothermal therapy is the use of a sauna or steam bath and it is an ancient treatment for relieving aches and pain. It has a long history and has been an important healing and even ritual process in many cultures, including Scandinavian, Russian, Native American and Japanese.
A sauna is a small wood-lined room or hut heated to a temperature between 70°C (158°F) and 90°C (194°F). Where normally such heat would be uncomfortable, in a sauna the wood absorbs the moisture and the dry, hot atmosphere is very pleasant for short periods, promoting heavy perspiration, opening the pores and deep cleansing the skin. Time spent in the heat is interspersed with an invigorating cold shower or plunge into cold water and enhanced by «loyly», the Finnish term for sprinkling a little water on the hot rock, so raising the humidity and creating a wave of heat which heightens the sense of relaxation and contentment.
There is no doubt that sauna affects the body in many beneficial ways. After all, the Finnish Olympic team doesn’t lug a portable sauna around on their travels just for fun!
Sauna has become best known for relaxing the body and mind and for the ultimate sense of well-being which it imparts. Scientific medical studies of the benefits of sauna bathing are rare, however:
According to most studies, sauna stimulates the production of noradrenalin, prolactin, and growth hormone.
Sauna bathing may also alleviate pain and improve joint mobility in patients with arthritis and rheumatic disease.
Saunas are thought by many to produce short term improvements in pulmonary function for patients with asthma and chronic bronchitis.
Some studies have suggested that long-term sauna bathing may help lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension.
Though the sauna experience is different for everyone, most regular users will agree that there are many more perceived health benefits that come from regular sauna usage including:
Improvements in skin ailments such as acne, eczema and wound healing.
Relief of stress.
Burning of calories and aid to weight loss.
A deeper more relaxing sleep.
The sweating out of toxins and impurities from the body.
Cleansing of the skin.
… and if all that isn’t enough there are huge recreational and social benefits too. It’s fun!