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Spoil Yourself: Use the sauna for health

Posted Jan 22 2009 3:41pm
Inside a modern Finnish sauna
Image via Wikipedia

I don’t know about you, but one of the things I love the most at the gym is the sauna. I’ve used them on hotel visits and such, or when I’ve gone for a massage, but the thing about using it after a workout is that you’re not only pampering yourself, you’re also helping your body. I wish I had the money to own one!

Did you know?

  • During a 10-20 minute sauna session, your heart rate increases by 50-75%. This provides the same metabolic result as physical exercise. The increased cardiac load is the equivalent to a brisk walk. There is a nominal effect on blood pressure because the heat also causes blood vessels in skin to expand to accommodate increased blood flow.
  • When taking a sauna, skin temperature rises to 40°C (104°F) and internal body temperature rises to about 38°C (100.4°F). Exposure to the high heat creates an artificial fever state. Fever is part of the body’s natural healing process. Fever stimulates the immune system resulting in increased production of disease fighting white blood cells, antibodies and interferon (an anti viral protein with cancer fighting capability).
  • Spas and other such therapeutic facilities utilize saunas and steambaths in conjunction with massage to loosen fatty tissue and assist in the battle against cellulite.
  • Many regular steam and sauna users claim that a “good sweat” at the onset helps relieve and ward off the most severe symptoms of cold or flu.
  • Blood vessels become more flexible and there is increased circulation to the extremities. During a sauna, blood flow to the skin increases to as high as 50-70% of cardiac output (compared to the standard 5-10%). This brings nutrients to subcutaneous and surface tissue resulting in glowing healthy skin. ( source )

The reason I say “spoil yourself” is because I think that sometimes people don’t understand the true benefits of saunas. Sure, there are all the health related reasons I posted above, but I also tend to find myself feeling luxuriously spoiled when I use a sauna. Some great ones offer aromatherapy too, which can double your efforts in the luxury department! Grab a sauna with lemon and evergreen in the morning to loosen you up and get you pumped up for the day. Use the sauna with lavender and mint and soothe away the day’s stresses. Let your mind wander away from your troubles and transport you to a far away place. It’s like taking a vacation! Just don’t fall asleep without a timer though… more than 20-30 minutes in a sauna can actually HURT your body.

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