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2018.01.15 - Use the sauna consciously

Use the sauna consciously

Has it ever happened to you that you entered the sauna section of a hotel or a spa and had absolutely no clue which sauna type to use, how much time to spend in the cabin and how many times to do it? Perhaps you could answer these questions instinctively or you simply chose the cabin where the fewest people were sitting. Having a sauna is more and more trendy all over the world, but it is very important to use the sauna consciously, exactly the way it is meant to be used. Let’s see which factors can help you decide the things mentioned above.        

Physical load

The most important thing to know is that the sauna isn’t the place where one goes to take a rest. One is exposed to great physical load when they are in the cabin. Consequently, we must only use the kind of sauna that is good for us, and only as many times as it has a positive health effect. It is true that the physical load is good for our health, just like when we are running, swimming or doing any other sport if we do it with moderation, but it can cause harm if we don’t use our head. One of the most important effects of having a sauna is that it makes the blood circulate faster and it also accelerates the secretion process (detoxification). Both of these require hard work from the heart.       

This doesn’t mean that people with a heart condition mustn’t go to the sauna, it just means that they must carefully select the sauna type that is best for them and only spend as much time inside as is recommended! It is the tepidarium where the physical load on the body is the smallest. The temperature is ‘only’ 30-40°C in the tepidarium and we can relax, chat and warm up here for hours on cold winter days like the Romans did. It is warmer in a steam bath and the humidity level is very high, so those sitting in the cabin are really sweating; still, the steam bath is easier to take for the body than the classic Finnish sauna, where the temperature is higher and the air is drier, so we can sweat even more heavily while inside. Thermal-cascade sauna is a kind of transition between the Finnish sauna and the Mediterranean steam bath, which can only be found in spas offering a special experience, such as the Széchenyi Bath in Budapest. The steam in the thermal-cascade sauna comes directly from the thermal water, so visitors can also benefit from the water’s positive health effect by inhaling. Thanks to the special cabin design, the vapour forms layers, so those sitting inside can decide how big a physical load they wish to cope with. It may be surprising but from all sauna types it is the infrared sauna that has the biggest detoxification capacity. Users sweat three times more than in the Finnish sauna, and in the sweat there are 3-7 times more non-water type components. This means that using this sauna type requires harder work from our metabolic system, even if staying inside seems more pleasant and less demanding for our body as the infra sauna doesn’t heat the air but directly the body, by the infrared heaters emitting radiant heat.            

What is the goal?

Let’s assume that our heart works very well when there is a physical load and ask ourselves the question: ‘What is my goal with having a sauna?” Those who want to detoxify or lose weight should choose more intense sauna types. Obviously if we lose one litre of sweat we don’t lose one kilogram of our weight for good, because one must drink after using the sauna. The sauna only helps the body to get rid of the harmful materials released from the adipose tissue faster.  

Those who wish to relax can choose any type of sauna, but even for them it is a good idea to pay attention to do several rounds in the cabin, because the first round refreshes you more than it relaxes. Spa visitors who would like to strengthen their immune system can also choose any sauna type, what they need to keep in mind is that they should go to the sauna regularly, as one occasion doesn’t protect us from the winter influenza season. Once one has already caught the flu or the cold, they mustn’t use sauna as the treatment because this way they contaminate others and the physical load of having a sauna doesn’t contribute to the recovery, it is only efficient in prevention. We don’t go running either when we are ill, but physical exercise can help us not to get ill.  

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Personal preferences

There are people who simply don’t like too much vapour in the air so they prefer dry Finnish sauna, while for others it is the special atmosphere created by the steam that makes them able to relax. Let’s not forget that the sauna is about enjoyment too. Perhaps a certain sauna type would be good for us because of our health regime, but we are free to choose another one when we feel like it! Making a conscious decision about which cabin to sit in shouldn’t be a rigid system, let’s not use our brain only! When we have tried all sauna types and know already which ones we like to use regularly and which are those that we visit only occasionally, let’s exercise our freedom of choice.