Commonly associated with Finnish culture but used worldwide, the sauna is a small heated room mainly found in fitness facilities and health spas. It is a popular way to relax after the office, a workout or a spa treatment. The sauna works by encouraging our skin, the body’s biggest organ, to produce large amounts of sweat. This helps the body rid itself of unwanted toxins and improves circulation.
In Finland it is traditional to disrobe completely, but in other cultures or places a towel wrap or a swimsuit may be the order of the day. The length of a sauna session will vary according to a person’s ability to withstand the heat, typically 15 to 30 minutes for most. Many cool off with a cold shower or plunge before resuming more sessions. The cooling off is an exhilarating relief.
Detoxification offers a number of anti-aging benefits. It improves the skin’s ability to regenerate through increased circulation caused by the heat dilating blood vessels. This creates a more youthful appearance. The effect is enhanced because the loss of so much fluid reduces weight, albeit temporarily as the fluids will be replaces. It reduces the workload on the liver by ridding the body of sodium, drugs and other toxins. It temporarily lowers blood pressure and quickens heart rate. It also has social and recreational benefits. The quiet, soothing atmosphere is conducive to openness, conversation and intimacy. Alternatively, the sauna can be used as a private retreat to unwind and let go. All in all, many find a sauna session increases energy, decreases stress and improves sleep.