In Finland, sauna has been considered as a source of energy and health for years.Photo: Julia Kivelä
“If sauna, booze and tar don’t help, your disease is fatal” says an old Finnish proverb, or “The sauna is the Finnish national medicine”. Väinämöinen in the Finnish national epic Kalevala rescues his people from threatening diseases by calling on a God of Sauna, who uses steam to heal people.
Germany and Japan (in addition to Finland) have conducted research on sauna bathing. The University of Jyväskylä has made a comprehensive summary of the health effects of the sauna, which says that moderate sauna bathing is safe even for pregnant women and people with heart disease. The conclusion is that sauna bathing is good for everyone, no matter how old you are – a child or an elderly person.
Sweating in a sauna deep-cleanses the skin and cleans the body from toxins and impurities. At the same time the heat relives muscular ache. In addition to these effects, the quality of sleep improves after a relaxing sauna session. The most important health benefit is relaxation and release from stress. Incorporating peat treatment into your sauna experience gives relief from many health problems such as arthritis, gout, and different skin diseases.
Combination of sauna and winter swimming has also been proven good for your health. Swimming regularly in ice cold water is healthy in many ways: it improves your energy balance and cold resistance, improves the mood, lowers the blood pressure and washes away any stress. For those who are concerned with the beauty effects – change of the hot and cold temperatures helps to maintain elasticity of the skin by slowing down cell ageing processes.
You can go to sauna whenever you want and stay there for as long as you want – everyone has their own way of enjoying the sauna. Just sprinkle the water onto the sauna stove’s rocks and hear the sizzle as it turns into steam. Cool down for a while by going outside and then return to the sauna and do it all over again.