Health and beauty benefits of sauna use
Consider that, according to some reports, the Finnish rank as having one of the highest life expectancies in the world; could it be attributed to saunas being so deeply embedded in Finnish culture? Bearing in mind that owning a sauna in Finland is as popular as having a T.V! Mostly saunas are in homes, but saunas are also standard amenities in offices and factories in the Nordic country. A two-decade-long study published in 2015 found the more saunas Finnish men and women took per week, the longer they lived.
Regular sauna use has been known to provide a number of health and beauty benefits:
- Natural stress relief
- Muscle relaxation & soothing aches and pains
- Elimination of waste products
- Radiant skin and hair
- Respiratory relief
- Aid weight loss
- Help sleep
- Improve cardiovascular health
Almost every ancient culture used heat for some form of relaxation - from Roman baths to Native American sweat lodges. Saunas or ‘sweat houses’ can be dated back to 3,000 years ago when Mayans in Central America used them for religious ceremonies and good health.
How do Finnish aroma saunas work?
Natural stress relief
The warmth of the room, separation from day to day stressors and the environment being conducive to relaxation, all contribute to a calming experience. The benefit of fragrance in the room encourages the bather to associate this aroma with relaxation. Regular sauna users cite natural stress relief as the biggest benefit of saunas.
Muscle relaxation and soothing aches, pains and minor injuries
The heat of saunas releases endorphins which have a mild numbing effect which can help to reduce muscle soreness and aches and pains. As your body temperature rises, it will cause blood vessels to dilate and increase circulation which can help muscles relax and speed up the healing of minor injuries, such as bruises and cuts.
Elimination of waste products - a hangover cure?!
As the body is warmed, the circulation increases and the skin starts to sweat thus releasing water and waste products via the sweat glands, some claim that this can flush out toxins, which is rumoured to help cure a hangover!
Radiant skin and hair
The dry heat helps to open and cleanse your pores and deep sweating can cleanse the skin by replacing dead skin cells and rinsing bacteria out of the epidermal layer of skin. Also as your circulation improves in order to cool the body, blood flows to the smallest capillaries bringing with it fresh oxygen and vital nutrients helping the skin to glow. Saunas can also activate your sebaceous gland which releases compounds to moisturise your hair, which could leave your hair looking fabulous!
Fight off illness & give respiratory relief
The body’s core temperature rises slightly as our systems regulate the additional heat, putting our body in a state of hyperthermia (not to be confused with hypothermia - where your body loses heat faster than it can produce it and is a medical emergency). Hyperthermia works by the body creating a slight ‘fever’ which may boost the immune system function and reduce the incidence of colds and influenza. Saunas may also provide respiratory relief, often for sufferers of hayfever, by clearing upper respiratory tract congestion and soothing the mucous membranes.
Restful sleep and weight loss - really?
Associated with the benefits of relaxation, a sauna could help you sleep due to the endorphin release that saunas promote which is said to aid deep sleep. Weight loss? Well, this is a bit of a myth. It’s true that the body uses energy, i.e burns calories, heating up to reach the deep sweat process but, it is important to note that any weight loss is likely to be due to fluid loss and thus, will return when you refuel your body with food and water. If weight loss is your goal, Source Spa & Wellness members and guests will have access to personal trainers, which we look forward to sharing more info about with you soon. Watch this space or sign up to our spa email newsletter below to get updates, offers and health and wellbeing info in your inbox.
Improve cardiovascular health
Any improvement in cardiovascular health relates back to the aforementioned Finnish study where the correlation between death by cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, or sudden cardiac death and sauna use was documented. Those who used a sauna four to seven times a week were up to 63% less likely to die from these heart conditions. Whilst not being a substitute for a good exercise program to maintain a healthy heart, sauna use can increase your heart rate by as much as 60% when interspersed with cooling showers - read more about the benefits of cold exposure here.
The Finnish aroma sauna makes up one element of our Thermal Suite, which also includes a salt inhalation steam room, a mineral-rich Dead Sea saltwater vitality pool, contrast showers and ice fountain.
Top Tips for sauna use*
- Stay hydrated, we recommend drinking two to four glasses of water after using a sauna. The high temperatures and increased sweating can dehydrate you.
- Remove jewellery before your sauna as it could heat up and burn you!
- Take a cold shower to invigorate your skin and rinse off sweat and cleanse your pores - the Finns often opt to roll in the snow!
- Take time to relax after your sauna, take advantage of the feeling of complete relaxation and return to your busy schedule slowly. If you’re on holiday with us at Saunton Sands Hotel, then continue your relaxing holiday, get lost in nature on Braunton Burrows or down the miles of golden sands laid out ahead of the hotel and embrace the glories of clean fresh air and stunning serene surroundings.
- Read how to incorporate sauna use into your thermal journey here.
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*These statements are for informational purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for medical counselling. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Saunton Sands and Source Spa shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, damage, or injury caused directly or indirectly by the information contained herein.