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How Long Should You Sit in a Sauna

For those who are new to the world of saunas, they may have questions about how they should be properly used. For example, how long should you sit in a sauna? There’s an old Finnish saying that simply states that you should stay in the sauna until you’ve become hot enough. And while this may be an appropriate suggestion for a culture where almost half the population has access to a private sauna, it may not provide a very comforting answer for someone who has little to no experience with these super heated rooms. In this article, we go over some of the sauna basics for those who are curious.

How Long Should You Sit In A Sauna?

While at one time there have actually been formal competitions to find out who can sit in a sauna the longest they are no longer held due to the possibility of injury and death. For this reason, it’s important to carefully monitor the time you spend in a sauna. And as with most things, those who have the least experience should start off slowly and work their way up. For those who have never been in a sauna before the recommended length of a session is five to 10 minutes. For those who are familiar with sauna use, it’s still recommended to keep sessions to less than 20 minutes. If you’ve just finished exercising you should wait at least 10 minutes before entering the sauna. 

Other Safety Measures

Because a sauna will cause you to perspire heavily, it’s important to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol. Be especially aware if you’re taking medications that may prevent sweating. If you have high blood pressure or heart disease you should consult a doctor before spending any significant time in a sauna. A safe temperature for a sauna is typically around 80 degrees Celsius. Very hot saunas are not recommended for pregnant women or small children. Reduce the temperature to around 70 degrees Celsius and keep the session short in these cases. If you begin to feel faint or lightheaded you should exit the sauna immediately.

Benefits Of Sauna Use

Saunas can actually be beneficial to your social and physical health. As saunas can be used by several people at once they often become a gathering point for family and friends. As the heat relaxes everyone social interaction is often also facilitated. As for physical benefits, the heat of the sauna increases the heart rate and blood flow while causing the blood vessels to dilate and the blood pressure to drop. It’s been found that regular sauna use by those who suffered a heart attack can lead to improved heart function. Regular use of a sauna (four to seven times a week) has also been found to decrease the chances of stroke and dementia. And as many athletes have long since known, spending time in the sauna is a great panacea for sore muscles. Frequent sauna use has been associated with the reduction of chronic inflammation resulting from exercise.

Tips For Using The Sauna

As with any sort of activity, there are generally accepted practices and those that are frowned upon. Before entering the sauna you should always shower. This will not only wash off any dirt, oils, and perspiration on your body, it will also make entering the sauna more comfortable and easier to sit down on the hot bench. It’s also common courtesy to sit on a towel while in the sauna. Make sure you remain hydrated while paying attention to how long you’ve been inside. When you leave the sauna another shower will cool you down while removing perspiration and secreted toxins.

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