The benefits of a sauna are far greater than many realize. Here's why you should take advantage. ...
If you follow us on Instagram ( @indyfitnessmag) then you’ve probably noticed that I’m trying really hard to make #SaunaSunday a thing, and while I’m not sure if it will ever catch on, I am sure I will continue to participate in it. Aside from all of the health benefits of visiting the sauna, it is my personal time to relax my mind and body, and prepare for the upcoming week refreshed.
Sauna bathing, as it’s called, has a surprising amount of benefits for your personal health, but perhaps the #1 benefit that many will agree with is stress relief. We all know by now that stress can take a serious toll on our bodies and negatively impact our health. In fact, we now know that many diseases (i.e. heart disease) are at least partially stress related.
A sauna is a warm, quiet space that gets us away from the stresses and distraction of the world around us. The heat from a sauna relaxes the body’s muscles, improves circulation, and stimulates the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural “feel good” chemical.
Other Benefits Include:
- Relaxes muscles and soothes aches and pains: When the body temperature rises from the heat of the sauna and endorphins are released, it can create a mild “tranquilizing effect” to help with pain of joints and muscles. The heat also causes our blood vessels to dilate and increase blood flow, which increases the speed of the body’s natural healing process.
- Flushes Toxins: When our bodies are heated, as in the sauna, our nervous system stimulates our sweat glands. This is the body’s natural way of “cooling off.” When our sweat glands are stimulated, we start to sweat (sarcastic “oh really?”) which helps to remove toxins from our body. We can all agree, toxins suck. Sweat them out!
- Cleanses Skin: Sweating rinses bacteria out of the skin and sweat ducts, and will help to make the skin look softer.
- Other benefits include better sleep, improved immune functions, and calorie burning.**
Traditional vs. Infrared Saunas
When we hear sauna, most of us probably revert our minds to a dark, hot steamy room with wood walls and a bench. While that is a popular version of a traditional sauna, and the most prevalent, it’s not the only kind of sauna out there. A new[er] type of sauna with a slightly different approach is becoming more and more popular in spas and other high end health clubs: the Infrared (IR) Sauna.
Both the traditional and IR saunas serve the same purpose: heat up your body to increase blood flow and activate sweat glands to release toxins. Which one is the better choice is at this point up to personal preference. An easy way to decipher between the two is in the way that they heat your body.
The traditional sauna maintains temperatures upwards of 185-195 degrees and heats your body from the outside in. Basically, you walk into a hot room, your skin feels the heat and your body heats via convection. The heat slowly penetrates deeper and deeper into your body. Because of the high temperatures, it is generally recommended that you cap your sauna time at 15-20 minutes.
The infrared sauna, however, uses a totally different method to heat your body. IR sauna temperatures are generally between 120-150 degrees, but utilize various infrared waves to heat up your core and body from the inside out. This makes for a more comfortable experience, and allows you to increase the time of your sauna relaxation. Heat from the IR waves travels much deeper into the body, so it allows for more sweat and a deeper sweat.
My Experience at ABY Wellness
At this point, you know that I only write about things I experience first hand around Indianapolis; this is no different. A Better You Wellness invited me to feel the difference for myself at their location in Westfield. I’m not sure if it is because I’m used to the big wooden box full of other peoples’ sweat and stank, but I was taken aback by the…well there’s no better way to put it…luxury of what they had to offer. I was shown to a private, dimly lit room with plenty of fluffy towels (see pictures), a beautiful personal shower, and a glass box with a cushioned bench.
Before leaving me and this relaxation station to ourselves, I was shown how to work the sauna from the touchscreen inside. This was one high-tech box I was sitting in! The touch screen allowed me to choose which type of session I wanted, whether it be weight loss, cardiovascular, or detox, and even had Netflix and YouTube available. I went with the detox mode. I may have had a few Ketel One cocktails the night before...
I’ll admit, it felt a little strange to be the only person inside of a room that was inside of another room, but I was certainly detached from the world around me for 45 minutes. Usually on my #SaunaSunday sessions (there I go again) I feel the sweat creep up on me, and then more and more pours out. This was different though.
The sweat seemed to come in waves even though the temperature stayed around 130 degrees the entire time. One minute I was sitting there warm, but not sweating, and then the next I’m drenched, and the cycle would repeat. It was totally bizarre. When my 45-minute session ended, I hopped out and walked into the shower to clean myself off. What did I just experience?
I can’t wait to go back. For any of you who love sitting in the sauna as much as I do, you absolutely have to try the infrared sauna because it is a top-notch relaxation period. As always, the guys over at ABY Wellness are hooking it up for IFM readers, and you can try it for only $20. Simply fill out your info below and we will get you taken care of.