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Everybody has heard of the sauna, and the chances are most people have experienced one at some point in their lives. For some, enjoying a sauna at least once a week is the secret to good health.
It's quite likely the sauna was invented in the Scandinavian country of Finland. It's so popular there that most Finnish homes have their own sauna. Practically a way of life, Finland has been enjoying saunas since around 7000 BC.
For whatever reason, the traditional sauna day in Finland is Saturday and there is quite a ritual about the whole experience. The session begins with a shower, before sweating it out at around 80-110 degrees centigrade.
When you can't stand the heat any longer, you jump into a cold plunge pool, swimming pool, lake, ocean, or whatever's at hand. You can even roll in the snow! It's a case of rinse and repeat.
Many Scandinavian homes contain a traditional sauna and a hot tub, and often a steam room or steam shower, too. Western Red Cedar is considered the best material to use to build a sauna, as the natural oils deliver a wonderful aroma when heated.
Most saunas today are electrically heated, or feature a wood-burning heater. The heater uses special volcanic rocks. The temperature of a traditional sauna is adjusted by pouring water over stones and creating steam. Infrared saunas are also becoming increasingly popular.
Traditionally, smoke saunas were popular. Wood was burned in a large stove, filling the room with smoke. Once it reached the desired temperature, the fire was allowed to die down and the smoke cleared.
The main reason to take a sauna is to stimulate perspiration, which opens and cleanses the pores of the skin, eliminating toxins. Despite the heat and the water, the humidity in the sauna is very low, so sweat evaporates and keeps the skin cool.
There are many health benefits associated with taking regular saunas. For starters, a sauna is the perfect way to soothe tired and aching muscles and joints. It will also boost your circulation and could help you lose weight.
Did you know that saunas are also highly recommended for the relief of breathing difficulties, such as asthma, bronchitis and sinus? Success in using this method is well documented in health journals and often recommended by doctors.
A traditional or infrared sauna is a great way to relax and has been shown to lower stress levels. We all know that stress can be very detrimental to our health and has been shown to cause a wide range of physical and mental problems, including heart disease, depression, obesity, asthma, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease.
A regular session in the sauna could help you feel happier and more motivated, as it stimulates the release of endorphins. These naturally occurring chemicals in our bodies not only make us feel great, but also speed up the body’s natural healing process.
Whilst we all want to smell good these days, it is actually very healthy to sweat. So give the antiperspirant a miss for a couple of hours and use the sauna to rid yourself of nasty toxins, like lead, zinc, copper, nickel and mercury.
Sweating is a natural beauty treatment, too. It will wash away dirt, bacteria and dead skin cells, encourage new skin cells to grow and keeping your skin clean and glowing.
After taking a sauna it's quite likely you'll enjoy an excellent night's sleep. It's all thanks to those endorphins again. A sauna session will leave you relaxed and calm, so you'll fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer.
From the Roman bathhouses to Native American sweat lodges, the taking of saunas is globally recognised as a healthy habit. You'll find sauna facilities in your locality here on Bookwell, so be sure to book soon to experience the many benefits.