The sauna, which originated in Finland about a thousand years ago, is now widespread all over the world. The sauna or 'heat bath’ allows you to eliminate skin impurities and toxins through sweating. Many believe that it also makes you lose weight, but in reality the sauna only allows you to lose fluids and must be used with caution because it is not recommended for everyone.
The true Finnish sauna is experienced in special rooms inside which the temperature is first raised to about 60° C by means of special heaters, followed by a bath of superheated steam, obtained by pouring water onto red-hot stones. In this way, this saturation of the area with humidity promotes abundant sweating. In Nordic countries this is followed by a bath in ice-cold water, while elsewhere an ice-cold shower is used.
The most evident effect of the high temperature is sweating, a mechanism that regulates body temperature, keeping it as close as possible close to 37° C. Water and toxic substances are eliminated through sweating. The increase in body temperature also has beneficial effects on the muscles, which relax and decreases its tension.
During the sauna, metabolism and heartbeat also increase and therefore you undergo vasodilation, which makes the blood less "viscous" and thus it circulates much better inside the body. The heat can also be beneficial to those who suffer from respiratory diseases, it promotes faster muscle recovery (facilitating the elimination of lactic acid), it has a sedative effect on nerve endings and stimulates peripheral circulation.
MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHEN IS IT NOT RECOMMENDED?
1. If your blood pressure is too high or too low;
2. If you suffer from cardiac disorders or circulatory disorders;
3. If you have a fever;
4. If you have any inflammatory skin conditions (also to avoid the risk of transmitting it to others);
5. If you have varicose veins;
6. If you are pregnant;
7. During the menstrual cycle (the vasodilation effect and decreased blood viscosity may mean the risk of haemorrhages);
8. During puberty (any type of interference with the body during puberty and change can be negative).
DOES IT HELP AGAINST STRESS?
Its relaxing effect on muscles and its painkilling action can be effective in reducing anxiety and stress.
IS IT SUITABLE FOR THOSE WHO PRACTICE SPORTS?
It is particularly suited for sporty people and athletes because it allows for quicker recovery, by speeding up the elimination of toxins and lactic acid, and it also has a sedative effect on the nervous system and improves peripheral circulation.
IS IT COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE FOR PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM MUSCLE AND JOINT DISORDERS?
If the condition is localized (muscular, bone or joint trauma) it can be recommended for its muscular tension-relieving capacity and its ability to boost 0the metabolism; its “blocking” effect on the pain receptors is also important.
SHOULD YOU ENTER WITH WET OR DRY SKIN?
It is a good idea to take a shower at room temperature, in order to dilate the pores and relax yourself, and enter the sauna with wet skin for a few minutes. Go out again to take another cooler shower and then return to the sauna.
WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM TIME IT SHOULD LAST?
You should not exceed 15-20 minutes and you should also get used to it gradually, starting with a shorter amount of time, especially if these are your first experiences in a sauna, to avoid alterations of the blood pressure.
IS THERE A RISK OF HEATSTROKE?
It is possible, but you can easily avoid this by recognizing the symptoms: increase in heart beat and of internal temperature, stomach ache, feeling of discomfort and light-headedness are important signs of risk and in this case the sauna should be discontinued.
CAN YOU EXIT THE SAUNA QUICKLY?
No, it is absolutely not recommended. In fact, the decrease in blood pressure could lead to dizziness: it is always better to leave the sauna slowly and then lie down for a few minutes in the relaxation room, thereby allowing your blood pressure to return to normal. A cold shower is then recommended, as it will bring your body temperature back to normal and will have a firming effect on the skin.
YOU CAN EAT BEFORE THE SAUNA OR SHOULD YOU HAVE AN EMPTY STOMACH?
You should never enter the sauna with an empty stomach, but you should have a light snack, like yogurt and fruit.
IS IT TRUE THAT THE SAUNA MAKES YOU LOSE WEIGHT?
This is a myth to be debunked: the sauna has absolutely no slimming effect! The weight that is lost during the sitting is linked exclusively to the loss of fluids through sweating; these liquids are immediately replenished by drinking after exiting the sauna.
YOU CAN DRINK DURING THE SAUNA?
You should drink during the sauna. It is essential to replenish fluids and minerals lost through sweating. Herbal teas, fruit juice and vegetables juice are recommended, while it is best to avoid sugary or stimulating drinks and, above all, alcoholic drinks before, during and after the sauna.
DOES IT MAKE YOU MORE BEAUTIFUL?
Yes, it does, Indirectly: the skin becomes brighter and more elastic. Moreover, the sauna promotes good quality sleep, improves blood circulation and keeps your tissues young.