Saunas have, according to some sources, been around for thousands of years. Thought to have originated in Northern Europe, they have become part of everyday culture in many countries. Sauna culture has clearly withstood the test of time. But why? What are the benefits to regular sauna use? And why do so many swear by them? We’ll attempt to answer those questions in this article, looking at the reported physical and mental health and wellness benefits.
We’re very happy to say that we have recently reopened our sauna bathing facilities, which have undergone significant refurbishment. Sauna access is available to our full and swim only membership holders, and is in our opinion a brilliant addition to your fitness or workout regime.
Benefits of using a sauna
Traditional saunas work by heating rocks or charcoal, which in turn heat the air within the sauna to such a level that the body kickstarts its natural cooling process. Infrared saunas work by emitting infrared radiation or light which raises core body temperature without heating the surrounding air.
Traditional Finnish saunas typically operate at temperatures of between 70° to 100° Celsius, with humidity levels of between 10-20% (known as a ‘dry sauna’). They differ from a steam room (also known as steam sauna, or Turkish bath) by the level of humidity, which is typically 100% in the latter.
Whether you choose to use a traditional or infrared sauna, there are many health benefits to incorporating sauna usage into your fitness regime.
Saunas can help to reduce stress
The rigours of everyday life can, or indeed do, lead to inevitably high stress levels. Healthy sauna usage can help to alleviate this stress by:
- Providing a tranquil environment within which you’re able to unwind without distraction
- Relaxing muscle tension
- Improving circulation
- Releasing endorphins (similar to that of the ‘runner’s high phenomenon), which can also help to relieve pain
Saunas can help to improve heart health
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women worldwide. Research has suggested that regular dry sauna bathing may have a positive effect on cardiovascular health.
The theory is that 30 minute sauna sessions can help to reduce blood pressure, whilst simultaneously reducing arterial ‘stiffness’ – improving blood flow and ultimately heart health. The same study also suggested that in addition to the reduction in heart disease, sauna bathing also showed promise with regards to the reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Saunas can aid recovery after exercise
This increased blood circulation can also boost post exercise recovery, helping to flush lactic acid from your muscles as well as reducing tension. It’s important to remember though that the high temperatures of saunas lead to high levels of sweat loss which can quickly lead to dehydration, particularly after strenuous exercise. Ensure to drink plenty of fluids during exercise, pre and post sauna session!
Saunas can help to flush toxins
Over time toxins such as heavy metals, phthalates, flame retardants, Bisphenol A, pesticides and PCBs build up in our bodies. These toxins, known as metabolic waste, cannot be absorbed by the body but can be expelled through sweat. The high temperatures of the sauna lead to massively increased sweat levels which can help to detox your body of these unwanted toxins.
Saunas can help to cleanse skin
As well as removing toxins, the dry heat of the sauna can actually help to improve your skin by drawing additional oxygen and nutrients to the surface. This cell rejuvenation can lead to healthier and younger looking skin, reducing wrinkles and even helping to reduce acne, eczema and psoriasis.
Become a member today
Holders of our FULL and SWIM ONLY memberships will enjoy unlimited access to our recently upgraded sauna bathing facilities.
Our FULL membership includes access to:
- 25m swimming pool
- Fully equipped gym
- 6 squash courts
- Indoor and outdoor tennis courts
- Badminton and table tennis
- 50+ classes per week
- Free WiFi and parking
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have regarding sauna bathing, whether you choose to enjoy the occasional one off sauna session or incorporate it into your fitness routine.