Being of a Finnish background and upbringing, I had the good fortune of living the sauna lifestyle from a very young age.
Finns are well known for their love of saunas, quite often building them first before they build their homes on new properties especially at the camp or cottage. This has been a part of Finnish and Scandinavian culture, some believe, for over 2000 years.
In case you haven’t come across the idea of a sauna before, it’s basically a really hot room where you go hang out. It’s so hot that you will sweat. And typically sweat profusely!
Although not really saunas, infrared versions create heat from the inside of your body, so the room is not hot like a traditional sauna but you will still sweat. Sweating definitely seems to be the goal!
Saunas are a fun, social activity enjoyed by many. They are relaxing, comforting and work well as part of your time at the pool or a day at the spa.
The answer is yes. Sweating itself, usually created by exercise, but also occuring if one is nervous, anxious or hot for any other reason, has clear health benefits. As a natural reflex sweating helps cool us off.
Thank goodness! Without the ability to sweat it would be hard for us to survive as mammals. So, although sweating is often seen as socially awkward, when it comes to our health it is normal physiology and a necessity.
Sweating carries additional benefits outside of being our cooling off mechanism
One of the best know side effects from sweating is the removal of toxins from our body. If you know anyone who smokes or drinks alcohol you may have at some point noticed a characteristic smell coming from their skin or body. After your liver the skin is the next most active detoxification organ in the body and in terms of size the skin is the largest organ in the body.
Our bodies will produce about a litre of sweat per day through normal physiology. A sauna can create that same effect in 15 minutes as can exercise of a light to moderate nature. This effect can be accentuated by scrubbing or beating the skin.
Finlanders use a sauna vihta or vasta to strike the skin thus helping to open up the pores. Some are synthetic varieties while the traditional one is made from birch tree or other similar branches that are dried and then subsequently used in the sauna.
Sounds like great fun doesn’t it! Temperatures can range from 140 degrees Fahrenheit to over 180 degrees. This level of heat helps to dilate the blood vessels and increase blood flow, again similar to a bout of exercise. This adds to the health benefits of saunas as a positive treatment for some cases of congestive heart failure along with other health conditions.
Benefits of having regular saunas have been suggested in cases of chronic fatigue, depression, arthritis, skin problems and skin tone, stress and increase immune function or to ease other aches and pains.
In some instances people choose to quickly or briefly expose themselves to a cold shower, dip in a cold bath, or some other cold experience to help drive the circulation back to the organs and “seal in the heat” from their time in the sauna. This is akin to much of the benefit that is known in treating the human body with contrasting heat and cold therapies as well as ice baths for tissue trauma or breakdown from vigorous exercise.
So, if you’re looking for a relaxing, social means by which to derive some natural health benefits based on stimulating your natural body physiology – a sauna is a good choice. If you currently have any health problems you may want to contact your doctor prior to starting any sauna sessions.
A great tip for when you decide to give the sauna a try is to make sure you replenish your electrolytes and rehydrate after all that sweating. The health benefits of having a sauna are well recognized, but it might just be enough to know that after using the sauna you’re going to be really hot stuff!
The owner of David Koivuranta Chiropractic in Yorkville (downtown Toronto, ON), Dr. Dave, as he is affectionately known, has created a health and wellness service and information program to fulfill his desire to educate, inform and entertain people as broadly as his clinical and speaking efforts will take him. He has treated patients with chiropractic care, nutritional consulting, weight management programs and technology like non-surgical spinal decompression. His experience in this regard is vast and allows him to meet people and patients where they are at with their health challenges and goals.
Dr. Dave graduated from Northwestern Health Sciences University in Minneapolis, MN with a Bachelors in Human Biology and a Doctor of Chiropractic Degree at the top of his class!…summa cum laude. His mission is to help serve as many people as possible on a path to living healthy lives forever,