By Emily Cranston
Saunas were first used in the Baltic regions around 2,000 BC. They were used traditionally and thought to cleanse the body. At the time the Finns even considered the sauna a sterile environment. Nowadays we see saunas in gyms and health centers- you can even buy one at Costco!
There are different types of saunas- the dry sauna, wet sauna, and infrared sauna. Dry saunas are the ones we see made of some type of natural wood and are heated either by burning wood or electric heat. Wet saunas are what I know as “steam rooms”. They rely on heat from boiling water to increase the humidity in the room. Lastly, the infrared sauna. This sauna uses infrared light as heat. Newer studies have come out on the benefits of using an infrared sauna over a traditional sauna. The temperatures in these saunas are much milder and the light has the ability to travel deeper into the body.
The benefits of regular sauna use can benefit us physically and mentally. In a 2018 study, people were shown to have a reduction in blood pressure after a 30-minute sauna bath. Their systolic and diastolic blood pressure remained lower than their pre-sauna readings. Other evidence showed that regular sauna-goers had increased lung capacity. It also is linked to helping headache disorders. Sauna use is also shown to have relaxing qualities and can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety in our lives! Even with all these positive attributes of sauna use, there are some people that should avoid this activity. People that are chronically dehydrated and also those with more advanced cardiovascular disease should steer clear or talk to their doctor.