For hundreds of years, Scandinavians have been using saunas for their alleged health benefits of cleansing, relaxation and even weight loss. Luckily, we are spoilt for choice with great saunas found in many of the fantastic spa hotels here in the UK alongside stylish spa facilities. As well as much-needed pampering and relaxation, saunas offer a wide variety of health benefits, so why not plan your next UK spa break with some pampering sauna-time in mind?
If you’re not a seasoned spa-goer, you might be wondering what the difference is between a sauna and a steam room. Both types of rooms are used to promote sweating, but they use different types of heat to accomplish it. Saunas use dry heat produced from a stove or hot rocks and have very low humidity, whereas steam rooms involve moist heat and operate at lower temperatures.
Current research about the benefits of saunas is mixed, but it‘s widely agreed they can be beneficial to your health when used with caution. If you’re considering adding the sauna to your health and wellness routine, or sampling the facilities on your next spa weekend break, make sure to evaluate your specific health needs first.
Health benefits of saunas include:
1. A feeling of relaxation
Saunas have been traditionally used to produce a feeling of relaxation. As your heart rate goes up and your blood vessels dilate, there is an increase in blood flow to the skin as your heart rate increases – and you begin to sweat. These factors, alongside the hot, dry heat, can help to promote a feeling of relaxation.
2. Improved blood circulation
In order to maintain a temperature balance in your body, your sympathetic nervous system becomes more active, resulting in increased blood flow and overall circulation.
3. Increased alertness
Your body’s reaction to the heat can make you less perceptive to pain, more alert, and give you a feeling of elation. The physiological affects of using a sauna have been likened to those of cardio exercise!
4. Pain relief
Using a dry sauna can leave you feeling invigorated. Since the blood vessels relax and dilate in a sauna, blood flow increases and this can help reduce tension in the joints and relieve sore muscles. Saunas might also help those with chronic pain and arthritis.
5. Detoxifying the body
One of the ways our bodies remove toxins is through sweat. Profound sweating removes toxins the body might have absorbed in several ways and the intense heat sessions in a sauna can help flush toxins from the body.
6. Saunas promote social interaction
Spa breaks already provide a great opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends, and the confined atmosphere of saunas in particular offer the chance to enjoy good conversation with your companions – providing, of course, that you’re not disrupting the peaceful atmosphere for your fellow spa-goers!
7. Saunas help improve sports performance
There’s a reason why athletes are known for their love of post-workout saunas. Regular use of saunas can increase the body’s heat tolerance threshold. This can lead to significant improvements in the way athletes perform in endurance sports. Regular sauna users have a higher heat tolerance level and therefore can maintain their energy level over a prolonged period of time.
8. A stronger immune system
One of the major benefits of enjoying some sauna time on your spa trip is that it helps to create a stronger immune system. Sauna sessions are believed to help produce white blood cells, which are responsible for helping the body to fight-off infection. Those who use saunas on a regular basis tend to have a higher count of white blood cells and if illnesses occur, some studies have shown they heal faster.
Top tips when using a sauna:
If you want to use a sauna on your spa break to relieve some stress, it’s important to remember that high temperatures for long periods of time can actually put strain on the body. Aim for a 15-minute session in the sauna at first and work your way up to a maximum of 30 minutes at a time.
Before entering the spa area, remove jewellery, glasses, contact lenses or anything metallic – it goes without saying that the metal will heat up once you’re in the sauna!
Once you’ve entered the sauna room, pick your seat carefully. Remember, heat rises so the benches are the top are best for those who really crave the heat. Don’t forget to close the door immediately – you don’t want that precious heat to escape.
If you feel dizzy, unwell, or develop a headache while in a sauna, leave immediately and cool down. Make sure to rehydrate with a couple glasses of water afterwards, and take some time to ensure you fully cool down before using any more spa facilities. Now is a great time to rest and wind-down in the spa hotel’s relaxation area!
If you need to escape the heat:
You could follow your time in the sauna with a pampering massage or facial. Perhaps the idea of taking an invigorating, after-sauna dip in a cold plunge pool sounds perfect to you? Or maybe you’re longing for a quick blast under an ice-cold, tropical rain shower. Visiting a sauna whilst staying at one of our UK spa hotels ensures you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to spa facilities – so you can turn your sauna experience into a spa day to remember.
Looking for a quality sauna near you? Find cheap spa weekend breaks and great spa deals by calling Spa and Hotel Break on 0800 2465511 for free bookings and advice, or by visiting www.spaandhotelbreak.co.uk