Time for another Reader Request!
Question: Do you think that you could do a post about Saunas? We have one at my gym but I have always been to chicken to use it because I don’t really know what to do. You said that they were good for detoxification? How would I incorporated saunas into my life properly? Thanks!
Okay, let’s talk saunas. 😀
I’ll start with gym saunas, since that’s a common place to access them. In my experience, there are usually two types of saunas found in gyms–> a steam sauna, and a dry sauna.
A dry sauna is often made of wood interior, and typically uses a stove of hot rocks that exude a very, very dry heat. Like a takes-your-breath-away-when-you-walk-in-the-room kind of dry heat. Some people prefer the dry sauna for the simple fact that you can take a book or magazine in with you, which may help the time pass. Also, in a dry sauna, you know that any moisture you feel on your skin is PURE SWEAT– unlike a steam sauna, which provides moisture to the environment.
The cons of the dry sauna?
- It can feel unbearably dry. As in all the moisture in your mouth, nose and throat is drying up while you attempt to breathe.
- The low humidity makes it difficult to sit in a dry sauna for long.
A steam sauna usually has a tile interior, to keep it water proof, and is, as the name suggests, heated by steam. Unlike a dry sauna, a steam sauna is filled with moisture, making it a much more tolerable heat for most people. However, you’ll be wet in no time, so bringing a book or magazine is out of the question.
The cons of the steam sauna?
- Can’t bring in any reading material due to moisture.
- If improperly cleaned, the steam can pick up the toxic chemicals used, and make for an unpleasant sauna experience. (This was a problem in my old gym– I could feel myself inhaling bleach fumes! Luckily, my current gym uses white vinegar for cleaning.)
Another type of sauna worth mentioning is a far-infrared sauna, which I had the pleasure of trying during my Detox Training with Natalia Rose last spring. These saunas are often noted as superior to other forms of sauna therapy, since the infared radiation can penetrate your skin, heating up the body without being in quite as hot of an environment. Even Dr. Oz is sold on the infrared sauna!
Unfortunately, infrared saunas are not common in gyms yet, so you’ll have to find a spa that offers a package of infrared sessions, or buy your own.
Benefits of Sauna Therapy
The benefits of saunas are still highly debated. (Just like every other health topic out there…)
One of the books that originally influenced my perspective on saunas, among other healthy lifestyle choices, was UltraMetabolism, by Dr. Mark Hyman.
According to Dr. Hyman, the benefits of sauna therapy include:
- Reduces stress
- Lowers blood sugar level
- Helps balance the autonomic nervous system
- Helps burn calories
- Helps excrete pesticides and heavy metals through your skin
In his book, Dr. Hyman also cites a very convincing study:
In a two-week study of twenty-five obese adults, body weight and body fat were reduced after sauna therapy for 15 minutes at 60 degrees Celsius daily in a far-infared sauna. Researchers reported on another obese patient who couldn’t exercise because of knee arthritis and lost 17.5 kilograms, decreasing body fat from 46 percent to 35 percent after ten weeks of sauna therapy.
–Hyman, Mark. M.D. UltraMetabolism (2006)
In fact, another author believes that saunas may have the same impact on our bodies as exercise!
Regular use of a sauna or steam bath may impart a similar stress on the cardiovascular system [as exercise], and its regular use may be as effective as a means of cardiovascular conditioning and burning calories as regular exercise.
–W. Dean, “Effect of Sweating,” The Journal of the American Medical Association (1981)
Worth a shot, right?
Now, let’s talk sauna etiquette.
What to Wear:
Check with your gym, as they all have varying policies on sauna attire. I’ve been to one gym that had NO policy (read: lots of naked people), and others that require a bathing suit. Regardless, ALWAYS wear “shower shoes” or flip flops, to protect your feet from any nasty bacteria that may be lurking in the sauna or shower.
What to Bring with You:
A large bottle of water. It’s important to stay hydrated while you’re sweating!
A towel, or two. I actually bring both a hand towel with me, to sit on while in the sauna, and a large bath towel for showering afterward. Sitting on the hand towel makes me feel extra-protected from any germs that may thrive in a warm, moist environment. Plus, it’s nice to keep my larger towel clean and dry until it’s time to wash-off.
A water-poof watch. I picked up a cheap watch (similar to this one) at Target, with an indiglo feature– which is handy if your particular sauna keeps the lights off. Keeping track of the time is important when you’re new to using the sauna, as you don’t want to stay in longer than 10 minutes at a time. After 10 minutes, take a cool shower, then return to the sauna for another 10 minutes, if you desire.
A Ped Egg. Obviously, this one is optional, but I love exfoliating my feet in the sauna! This little tool catches all the dead skin, so you’re not littering in the sauna, and leaves your feet feeling soft and smooth! It should be noted that I only use this when I’m ALONE in the sauna, as I’d be embarrassed for someone else to watch me scrape my feet. LOL
Your “quiet voice.” Talking with a friend certainly helps pass the time, but if there are other people sitting in the sauna with you, it’s polite to stay quiet to let others sweat in peace. There is nothing more annoying than a loud conversation– one that you can’t help but listen to in such a small room– while you’re trying to enjoy some peace and quiet. Luckily, I’ve had many visits where I can talk to my gym buddy with no one around, and it’s much more fun that way!
- If you ever start to feel sleepy or tingly, it’s time to leave the sauna. If you can’t sit there for a full 10 minutes, no big deal! It’s important to listen to your body, and know when it’s time for a cool-down.
- Women who are pregnant or attempting to conceive should not use a sauna without consulting their obstetrician first. If you have any chronic health condition, check with your doctor before using a sauna.
- When using a sauna, drink plenty of water before and afterward to avoid dehydration. Take care that you do not become dehydrated, overheated, dizzy or disoriented; if those conditions occur, seek prompt medical attention. [source]
Okay, that should cover it! Hope you all enjoy some sauna therapy soon!
Reader Feedback: Do you ever use saunas? If so, which type to you prefer? Personally, I’m a steam sauna kinda girl. I try to use it as often as possible– at least a couple times a week, and even more often during my juice fast!