How to Use a Sauna Properly and Safely
Saunas provide a wonderful way to unwind and relax. The extreme, dry heat has numerous health benefits such as relieving pain and reducing stress levels. It also elevates your metabolism, increases blood circulation, strengthens the contractions of your heart muscle and even gives your immune system a boost. The sweating can also help with weight loss.
However, it is important to use a sauna correctly and in moderation, as prolonged, improper, or unsafe usage can result in health issues.
Follow our 6 simple guidelines on how to sauna effectively:
1. Good Health.
If you have a medical condition or are taking any medication it is important to check with your doctor before using a sauna. Those suffering from high or low blood pressure, a heart condition or epilepsy should avoid using a sauna. The same rule applies to those who use recreational drugs and certain medications. Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive should not use a sauna as you risk raising your body core temperature, fainting, having cramps or suffering from heat exhaustion.
Using a sauna can help reduce cold symptoms, however it is best to check with your doctor beforehand. If you feel at all ill while in the sauna – get out straight away.
It’s good to read through the instructions, health guidelines and warnings before using the sauna. If you don’t see any instructions, ask your dealer of the sauna for more information.
- For infrared saunas, most people set the temperature between 49-60 degrees Celsius (120-140 degrees Fahrenheit). If you’re a beginner, you may want to start at 49 degrees Celsius or less. This way you’ll give yourself a chance to get used to the heat. Wait at least 10-15 minutes after turning it on, before getting in.
- For a traditional sauna, most people set the temperature for anywhere between 65-85 degrees Celsius (150-185 degrees Fahrenheit). In this case, you’ll probably want to wait until you’re within 5-10 degrees of the temperature you’ve set it at to get the full effect throughout your whole home dry sauna session.
3. Staying Hydrated
One very important step is to have a glass of water before entering the sauna, taking some water into the sauna with you and drinking some water when you get out. For every 15 minutes you are in the sauna, drink about two to four glasses of water after the sauna.
Other good drinks to take into the sauna with you would be a sports electrolyte replacement drink (or coconut water, which is nature’s electrolyte replacement drink!).
It’s possible to suffer from dehydration in a sauna. This can lead to a heat stroke if you do not replenish with liquids. Water and isotonic drinks are suitable, but never consume alcohol before or during your use of a sauna. It is also advisable not to use a sauna if you have a hangover.
4. Wearing Suitable Attire
If you have your own private sauna and would prefer taking your sauna in the nude, then by all means. However, wearing a bathing suit or loose-fitting clothes, such as a T-shirt and shorts allows your skin to sweat freely and helps cool you down. Too many clothes can result in overheating.
If you are using a public sauna and are not convinced of the cleanliness of the sauna, it is a good idea to wear flip flops, or similar items on your feet. You may also want to consider sitting on a towel, rather than sitting directly on the bench.
It is always good to be prepared with two towels – one to sit on and a smaller towel to wipe down with once you start sweating. Your body will be sending out toxins, including heavy metals, with your sweat, and you won’t want your sauna bench or floor to absorb these.
5. Sauna Time
The appropriate amount of time to spend in the sauna is around 15–20 minutes at the most and less if you feel too hot or uncomfortable. It is better to go in and out, taking cooling down breaks, than to roast in it for too long.
Build up your sauna time gradually. People with medical conditions should follow their doctor’s instructions as to how long they may stay in the sauna. It is recommended to begin with about two sauna sessions each week.
6. Cooling Down
Allow your body time to adjust to the cooler air outside the sauna once out; wait for at least 5 to 10 minutes before taking a final shower to cleanse your skin. A good lukewarm shower before getting dressed will help bring your body temperature down, it is not a good idea to go straight from the sauna into a shock of freezing cold water.