A sauna session can be one of the most relaxing, unwinding things you can do either after a day of work or a day of play. Just hanging out for a quarter of an hour in a very very hot room brings you multiple health benefits: the steam is known to help with mild respiratory problems, the heat relaxes and loosens your muscles, and the sweating has a cleansing effect on your skin, keeping it soft and beautiful.
To get all the benefits and avoid any accidents, if you're using a sauna for the first time, you should know a few things about how it works and what to watch out for.
First of all, make sure you're healthy. Saunas are not recommended if you have a history of heart or blood pressure problems or if you have any joint injuries. If you're pregnant or on medication, the safest thing is to check with your doctor before using a sauna and see if there are any setbacks. And even if you don't suffer from anything serious, only use the sauna if you're feeling good and as long as you feel good, especially if it's your first time. A step-by-step approach is best.
Heat up and cool down gradually. It's nice to have a warm shower both before and after the sauna. The one before helps your body heat up (and also helps keep the sauna clean), whereas the one after helps it cool down in a gentle way. In winter time, hang out around the gym for an extra 15 minutes, to give your pores the chance to close up and your body to recover from the cardiac rhythm increase.
Read the instructions. All saunas apply the same base principle, but might work differently. Make sure you read the instructions of the one you're going to use.
Here are some general tips:
- The bottom seats will be a bit cooler than the top ones (as the heat rises)
- If it gets too hot, it helps to increase the humidity (this can be done in some saunas by putting water on hot rocks)
- It's good to make slow movements from time to time, also to get up slowly and sit down again
Hydrate. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your sauna. You will sweat a lot and it's very easy to dehydrate. Don't drink any alcohol though, as it inhibits sweating and may produce overheating.
Choose a good outfit. The best sauna outfit is wearing nothing. However, if you are not comfortable with that, you can wear a swimsuit. Either way, you will need a towel to sit on and/or a towel to dry yourself afterwards.
Also, don't wear any jewelry, as metal objects can overheat and burn your skin.
Don't overstay your welcome. The ideal time recommended for a sauna session is 15 to 20 minutes, but this can vary depending on many factors. The best thing is to listen to your body and if there's anything that feels wrong, go out.
*Photo credits: Waterton Park Hotel
Sophie Cleur has been enjoying the benefits of saunas for 6 months and is in love with the way her skin feels. After using a sauna for the first time, she began recommending it to all of her friends.