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Sauna Health Benefits & Tips

Sauna Health Benefits & Tips

For many of us a visit to a sauna is considered a spa-like luxury to be enjoyed on rare occasions as a special treat.  However, as long demonstrated by Finnish culture, saunas can be a regular part of our health regime, providing benefits beyond relaxation and an enhanced feeling of well-being (as if that wouldn’t be enough!)  Saunas are also more accessible than they once were and, in many places, can be found as close as your local gym.

A sauna is an enclosed room that is heated to a temperature between 170 and 230 degrees Fahrenheit by a wood stove, an electric heater, or infrared heater.  Finnish saunas are usually heated by wood stoves which can be splashed with water, relieving some of the dryness of the room.  Electric heater powered saunas can become extremely dry and consequently irritate the respiratory track. Saunas using infrared heaters create radiant heat that heats the body instead of the air and can causes greater sweating.  All saunas are usually lined with slatted wooden benches, providing a place for the heat bathers to sit or lay down, usually on a towel.

While in a sauna, skin temperature generally rises to 40°C (104°F) and internal body temperature rises to about 38°C (100.4°F).  The intense heat causes an increase in circulation and results in profuse sweating and a flushing out of impurities through the skin’s pores.  While additional health benefits have not been empirically confirmed, other benefits claimed by sauna lovers include relief from the pain and stiffness of arthritis, improved complexion over time, relief from the effects of Lyme disease, quicker recovery of sore muscles, and increased flexibility.

Saunas are not for everyone.  Individuals with high blood pressure or heart disease should consult their physician before deciding to sauna.  Also, pregnant women should be cautious with sauna use as there is concern over the impact of the rise in temperature on the fetus.  For pregnant women, more dangerous than saunas, however, is soaking in hot tubs.  Again, you can check with your doctor to decide what’s best for you.  Additional safety measures:

  • Limit time in sauna to 15-20 minutes — don’t fall asleep!
  • If at any point you feel light headed or unwell, exit the sauna.
  • Drink generous amounts of cool water before, during and after your sauna.
  • Avoid alcohol and medications that may inhibit sweating and produce overheating before and after your sauna.
  • Do not sauna if you have a fever.
  • Remove jewelry before entering sauna.  Metal objects will heat up and can burn your skin.

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Terri Hall

Terri Hall lives in the Hudson Valley with her family. In addition to writing, Terri works with public television and radio stations/networks in the area of new media, and leads workshops on authentic and empowered living.


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3:21PM PST on Nov 27, 2014

I always feel claustrophobic in saunas...worse in steam rooms, however, they DO help with aches & pains....

3:43AM PDT on Jul 29, 2014

There's always something done for maximising possible benefits gained

9:43AM PDT on Mar 21, 2011


6:35AM PST on Jan 6, 2011

love saunas

6:13PM PST on Dec 24, 2010

pack body in snow till frozen, go to saun till hot, pack body in snow. do not try this if you are over 50.

1:41PM PST on Dec 21, 2010

thank you!

11:28PM PST on Dec 13, 2010


4:04AM PST on Dec 9, 2010

It,s useful idea for treatments low blood pressure & weight loss with the help of infrared saunas. I want also suggest to visit similar site
Tom Henrry

11:10AM PST on Dec 2, 2010

Thanks for sharing!

12:09PM PST on Dec 1, 2010

I have a sauna in my apartment building and it has done me wonders! Another benefit is that it makes your skin so soft :)

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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