Sauna Health Benefits
The practice of sauna was born thousands of years ago in Finland, back when settlers would dig ditches in the ground with a heated pile of stones. The sauna was also a place for purification rituals before marriage and after death, as well as place for healing the ill. Today, the bathing ritual remains a large part of Finnish culture for its health benefits to the mind, body, and soul.
1. Stress reduction. A sauna is a quiet haven from the many stresses of today's world. But it's not just this mental escape that reduces stress levels in the sauna. Sitting in a hot sauna also relaxes the muscles and encourages the release of endorphins, the body's "feel-good" chemical.
2. Toxin elimination. Deep sweating has numerous health benefits, including the flushing of toxins like lead, copper, zinc, nickel, mercury that build up in our bodies from living in city environments.
3. Calorie burning. While regular sauna use can't replace a healthy diet and exercise regimen, it does aid in the burning of calories due to an increase in metabolism and heart-rate.
4. Improved circulation. When your temperature rises in a sauna, blood vessels to dilate to increases blood flow and overall circulation. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to all body tissues and help them heal. This also aids in lowering blood pressure and increasing cardiovascular performance and health. Use of a birch whisk improves circulation in the sauna even further.
5. Better sleep. Research shows that regular sauna use can lead to more relaxed sleep. This is thanks to the slow release of endorphins that is key to facilitating a good night’s rest. When body temperatures go up before plummeting, a relaxed slumber will follow.
6. Improved skin. Sauna as a bathing ritual helps to rid pores of bacteria that can cause acne and other blemishes. It can also enhance collagen production for rejuvenated and younger looking skin. Use of special sauna wash mitts and back scrubbers in the sauna also encourages exfoliation.
7. Stronger immune system. Sauna use can help the body create more white blood cells, which are our defense against infection and diseases. Finns traditionally go from a hot sauna to a cool lake and back again; these sudden changes in temperature train the body to adapt to changes by reinforcing its defense mechanisms.
8. Pain relief. Sauna is often suggested to those who suffer from chronic, painful conditions. Heat from the sauna gets deep into the body’s soft tissue, providing relief from pain like arthritis or backaches. The relaxation of muscles also allows more flexibility and movement to stiff, sore bodies.
9. Improved social life. Though many regard the sauna as a private sanctuary, it actually instills a sense of community for many in Finland. Families, friends and even coworkers will take sauna together and enjoy quiet conversation outside of the workplace and home. Because nudity is standard in sauna culture, it breaks down barriers to create a judgement-free place of enjoyment where one can be comfortable in their own skin.
10. Recovery from workouts. Outside of Finland, one place you can often find a sauna is in the gym, and with good reason. Sweating in a sauna after a workout helps to eliminate metabolic waste and bring blood flow to the strained muscles, helping your body recover quickly.
Sauna Health Benefits