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How To Make The Most Of A Sauna - No Sweat!

How To Make The Most Of A Sauna - No Sweat!

Saunas originated in Finland over 10,000 years ago, as earth pits covered with animal skins. They developed into primitive buildings with a turf roof, where rocks were heated over a log fire to provide warmth for several hours, where people could congregate. By the twentieth century, metal stoves powered by gas or electricity and incorporating rocks to retain heat enabled the sauna to be brought to temperature more quickly. They were housed in specially designed unpainted wooden buildings or rooms, bordered with benches, much like those used today. The temperature in a sauna varies from about 90° at floor level to 185° at the top.

Throughout their history, particularly in Scandinavia, saunas have been associated with spiritual beliefs, bodily cleansing, purification, relaxation and socialising. It’s also traditional in these countries to decorate saunas with little elf figures, as it was once believed that special gnomes called "Saunatonttu" guarded the sauna, preventing the building from catching fire and punishing anyone who misbehaved when taking a sauna bath!

Provided you don’t have any serious underlying health problems, taking a sauna is believed to be beneficial for the following reasons:

  • The warm and stress-free environment is relaxing and relieves anxiety.
  • A sauna causes your core temperature to rise, your heart beats faster and your blood vessels dilate, resulting in increased blood flow and improving your circulation. This can lower blood pressure, ease muscle soreness, improve the mobility of your joints and even help with arthritis. It can also boost your immune system.
  • Studies have found that people who regularly use a sauna, combined with moderate exercise, were less likely to suffer from cardio-vascular disease or to suffer a stroke.
  • Sauna-induced sweating is believed to flush toxins and pollutants from your skin.

Here are 10 tips for getting the most out of your sauna experience: -

  1. Don’t take a sauna when your stomach is full. If you're hungry, you could consume a light snack, such as a yoghurt or piece of fruit, beforehand.
  2. Take a sauna preferably after a workout, to help you relax and recuperate
  3. Shower first to remove bacteria, perfume etc. from your body, using a mild soap, and dry yourself well.
  4. Drink a glass of plain water before entering the sauna and after leaving the sauna to maintain good hydration, as you will be losing water in your sweat.
  5. Sit on a towel and leave the sauna after about 15 minutes and cool off by taking a lukewarm shower or by sitting in room temperature for at least 15 minutes, avoiding extreme temperature changes.
  6. After leaving the sauna, take a cold shower, starting by splashing your legs, then your arms, then step under the shower completely.
  7. Rest for 20 minutes.
  8. Re-enter the sauna for a further 10-15 minutes.
  9. Finish with a cool or cold shower to close your pores and dry yourself thoroughly.
  10. And keep an eye out for that sauna elf!

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