Apparently every Finn (in Finland) uses a sauna regularly or even has one in their homes. And why do most gyms worth their weight in sweat now offer a steam and sauna facility? There must be a health reason why. We take a closer look!
1. FIRSTLY, WHAT IS A SAUNA?
‘Sauna’ is the only Finnish word to make it into the English language which simply means ‘room heated by a stove and water thrown on top of it.’ The bathing ritual has been used in Finland for thousands of years, ever since the first settlers dug a hole in the ground, heated a pile of stones and threw water on top to give off the steam known as loyly in Finnish. The point of the whole ritual is to spend some time in a much hotter environment than one usually does so as to encourage sweating and relax both body and mind. The ‘pure’ Finnish sauna is a simple and traditional.
2. WHY IS IT GOOD FOR YOU?
It’s all about the warmth. Think about how your body reacts in the heat. Your muscles relax, your aching bones loosen up, stiff joints are soothed and you lie back and let your worries release from your body and drift away with the steam. Aaah, sigh. It feels good, there’s no denying it. In physiological terms, our bodies heat up when we are ill to aid healing, so it is thought that this type of artificial heat can also have the same effect. It increases blood flow, moving oxygen and nutrients quicker to the skin. The perfect stress-buster.
And remember, while the Finns would be shocked at you turning up in a swimsuit, it’s probably best to at least carry a towel to protect your nether regions and spare your blushes!
photo credit: Saraichik Hotel