A sauna is an enclosed room which can be heated with the use of an electric heater, infrared heater, or wood stove. The elevated temperature in the room can be made more intense with the use of steam, or left dry, depending on the taste of the bathers. They have numerous health benefits, and have been used in various forms for centuries all over the world, ranging from the traditional Finnish sauna to the Native American sweat lodge. Many gyms and spas have a dry sauna available for clients who would like to use it, and some consumers have them at home for frequent use.
When someone enters a sauna, the increased temperature causes an elevation in heart rate and also increases circulation. Blood vessels and the body become more flexible, and the metabolism also increases. These physiological reactions have a number of positive health impacts on the body, especially with routine use. It is believed that most of the health benefits of a regular sauna can be achieved in an infrared one as well.
The increased circulation which results from regular use benefits the extremities and the skin. A sauna also opens the pores of the skin to help the body express toxins, carried out in the sweat which results from the high temperature. Taking a sauna can help to stave off cold symptoms, relieve sore muscles, and awaken the body while simultaneously reducing feelings of stress and unhappiness. Frequent bathers often say that they feel more at peace and relaxed after sitting in one, and some take that opportunity to meditate so that the sensation is increased.
Traditionally, people alternate hot and cold when they sauna. Most people spend 10-20 minutes in one before stepping out and taking a cold shower or plunge to close the pores. The body is allowed to rest outside for the same amount of time that it was inside before another round of sauna commences. This reduces stress on the body, and also allows the bather time to drink water and relax.
There are some cautions to sauna use: bathers should drink plenty of water before, during, and after the experience, and should refrain from alcohol use. If dizziness or nausea are experienced, the bather should get out immediately and cool down. Use of a sauna may be contraindicated for people who have medical issues like high or low blood pressure, heart disease, or pregnancy. If you are unsure about whether taking one is safe for you, consult your doctor.