Saunas are an increasingly popular way to relax and cleanse one’s body. The dry heat loosens tired muscles and cleanses your skin. To receive the maximum health benefits in a safe manner, learn how a sauna affects your body and the best ways to use one.
THE EFFECTS OF A SAUNA ON YOUR BODY
Temperatures in a traditional sauna range from 80 – 120 Celsius. That sounds as if it could cause burns, but the very low humidity in a sauna, less than 20 %, means your skin temperature isn’t so high. Your internal temperature rises by only 1 or 2 degrees. Infrared saunas max out at around 60 degrees Celsius.
A sauna will increase your heart rate by about a third. In a session of 30 minutes, you lose a pint of water or more. Neither of these effects is harmful in a healthy person who was not dehydrated before entering the sauna.
The low humidity is not harmful in and of itself either. People with dry skin or asthma often report relief from their conditions while in the sauna. For men, there is the possibility their sperm production is temporarily reduced, but saunas do not affect fertility in any way.
IDEAL LENGTH OF TIME FOR A SAUNA
How long you should stay in a sauna depends on how often you sauna, where you sit in the sauna and your personal comfort level.
- If you are new to the sauna experience or enjoy them irregularly, start with short sessions of about 10 minutes. Cool off in between sessions in the shower or pool. Cool off slowly and then try another 10-minute session if you prefer.
- If the sauna you are using has multiple bench levels, move between higher and lower levels to find the temperature most comfortable for you. Smaller saunas, such as infrared saunas, have only one level and the heat is spread evenly throughout. In these saunas, time your sessions according to what feels right for you. Most experienced sauna users are in a sauna about 30 to 45 minutes total over two or three sessions.
SIGNS YOU MAY BE STAYING IN TOO LONG
Tolerance for the heat of a sauna is personal. It depends on your familiarity with saunas, your level of hydration and your physical condition on a particular day. Pay attention to common warning signs that you may need to end your sauna session:
- You feel light-headed or dizzy
- Your heart begins racing
- You feel profound sleepiness
- You have difficulty breathing or feel chest pain
- You have a general feeling of uneasiness or claustrophobia
If you experience any of these sensations, exit the sauna or open the door to let it cool down.
HEALTH CONDITIONS THAT PRECLUDE SAUNA USE
Medical research confirms that the increased heart rate a sauna induces is not at all dangerous in healthy people or people who have stable coronary arterial disease. However, some people should not take saunas or should do so only after approval from their physician:
- Young children and pregnant women should avoid saunas
- People under the influence of drugs or alcohol should not use a sauna
- People with circulatory problems or diabetes must consult with their doctor before taking a sauna
- People on prescription drugs should consult with their doctor to see if a sauna is safe for them
BE SAFE IN THE SAUNA
Always hydrate your body before taking a sauna. A glass or two of water is sufficient. Drink another glass in between sessions. Avoid drinking alcohol before entering a sauna as the alcohol combined with the heat may lower your blood pressure to an unhealthy level.
There are other safety precautions to bear in mind:
- Do not take a sauna for at least an hour after a meal
- Remove jewelry to avoid the possibility of burns
- Remove clothing to allow your body to perspire freely
Following these few tips and paying attention to what your body tells you while in the sauna will allow you to maximize the relaxation and health benefits that regular sauna use provides. Visit our showroom or give us a call to see the saunas we carry and envision them warming you up on those cold winter nights.