I love saunas. Given my Scandinavian heritage, it's likely in my DNA. One thing I really dislike, though, is taking a sauna in a spot that doesn't include a soaking pool, cool lake, or snowy hillside to cool off in. So I'm completely delighted with this floating sauna, which was created by Casagrande & Rintala for the Rosendahl Village, located by the Hardangerfjord in Norway. The sauna floats on water and lights up at night when in use. One must row a boat or paddle a kayak to access the floating sauna. Can you imagine a more relaxing way to spend an evening? If you can't make the trip to Norway to try it out for yourself, it looks quite economical and relatively easy to make. Take the full tour to get a feel for this floating sauna. Source
If I had to choose, I'd pick a nice moist steam room over a sauna any day. But last month, I purchased a massage deal that came with an infrared sauna session. Anything that is said to "eliminate toxins" piques my interest, so I was excited about what my first infrared sauna experience was going to be all about.
An infrared sauna looks similar to a traditional sauna except there aren't any hot coals since the heat is emitted from the built-in infrared heaters, which are located in the sides and the top of the sauna (don't worry, they aren't even hot to touch). Unlike a normal sauna that heats up quite quickly, relaxes the body and opens up the pores for a serious sweat session, an infrared sauna safely penetrates deep into joints and muscles with the same rays that come from the sun — minus the UV radiation.
Keep reading to learn more about my first infrared session.
One of the top reasons I belong to my gym is for the steam room. Whenever I feel a cold coming on, I head over to the facility and strip down to a towel for a 15-minute breather. While I prefer the misty heated room, others prefer the drier sauna, though they both tend to provide the same benefits. Still, there are differences between the two types of steam baths.
For starters, saunas are much hotter than their wetter counterparts. A room with wooden planks and a small oven, saunas are very hot — temperatures ranging between 140-212 degrees F with a low level of humidity (ranging from five to 30 percent). The only steam you will see in a sauna is the result of pouring water over the oven or the steam rising from your own skin. Steam rooms, on the other hand, are still very hot at 110-115 degrees F with a humidity level of 100 percent. The steam in these rooms is pumped in through a vent and often causes a fog so thick you can hardly see your hand in front of you.
Regardless of what gym I've belonged to, it feels like I am the only person that ever uses the sauna. Since I've been working out, there's only been one other time that I haven't been in there alone. I'm not sure if I'm hitting the gym at odd times or if folks are just not feeling the sauna as much as I do. It could be that they are afraid of their bits and pieces showing, a la Charlotte from Sex in the City.
If you are one of those who has an aversion to the sauna, give it a try the next time you're there. Because I've been bumping up my strength training sessions lately, I've been loving the sauna even more. The heat helps relax the muscles I've just worked and also helps alleviate some of the stiffness in my joints. I've even done a sauna before yoga because it helps my body get warm, loose, and flexible. It also feels marvelous after a hard swimming session.
Besides helping my body relax, saunas are a great way to open up the pores and sweat. Sounds gross, but sweating is the body's way of eliminating toxins and other impurities — taking regular saunas may even cut back on the number of colds and flu viruses you have.
If you do try the sauna and find that yours is more crowded than mine, remember to practice sauna etiquette: rinse off before entering to reduce odor and the spread of germs, have quiet conversations, and always sit on a towel. Most importantly, stay hydrated! Since the heat can be quite dehydrating, I always drink water before and after the sauna.
Do you love the sauna?
Source: Flickr User MiikaS
I grew up in a very cold, snowy climate, where Winter lasted an average of five-and-a-half months. One way we got through the Winter comfortably was by taking lots of long saunas. I delighted in sitting in the very hot sauna until I couldn't stand it any longer, and then jumping out the door to roll in the snow outside. When I visit my family every Winter, I always revive the tradition.
Source: Flickr User iwona_kellie
Yesterday, I took a prelunch swim at Equinox, and after swimming almost a mile, I knew I had "earned" my sandwich.
I like to treat myself to a steam postswim. It warms me up and feels like a reward for a job well done. Thing is, I have never had to share the large and lovely steam room with anyone else. Which makes me wonder . . .
Source: Flickr User MiikaS
DrSugar is in the house and he's answering your health questions.
Dear Doc Sugar,
As the weather heats up, I am wondering if I burn more calories running in the Winter when it is chilly or when temperatures are much, much higher? It feels much tougher working out in the cold, but is that just psychological? I have also heard that sitting in saunas raises your heart rate and therefore burns calories. Is that true?
— Climate Concerns
To see what DrSugar has to say about your caloric burn in hot and cold temperatures, read more
A post-workout sauna is one of my favorite treats at the gym, especially after swimming. Now I have a new health rationalization for heading to the sauna every time I am at the gym: taking regular saunas seems to reduce your chances of catching a cold. In an Austrian study taking regular saunas, over the course of six months, decreased participants' colds by almost half when compared to study participants who skipped the sauna. Not only that but since saunas reduce cold symptoms, like congestion, they help folks recover more quickly from the common cold. Scientists speculate that the extreme heat saps the vitality of both cold and flu viruses, similar to a fever.
While saunas might be great for your immune system during cold and flu season, to see a reason to avoid saunas in Winter when you read more
After a long swim workout, or a short one for that matter, I like to treat myself to a relaxing sauna. I like a quiet sauna, no matter if it is at my gym or a fancy spa.
A friend from my moms' group complained that when she swims with a mom friend, the only time they have to gab is in the sauna, as swimming doesn't really lend itself to conversation and neither does hanging out with four kids under the age of five. She asked me about sauna etiquette: talking or no talking. While I understand her maternal need to squeeze in adult conversation, I stood my ground on the keeping quiet in the sauna rule but was wondering what you all think? So tell me . . .
You're asking and I'm answering.
"Hey Fit! My gym just got a makeover and there is now a sauna in the locker room. I have never used a sauna but I have seen them on TV, where you go in in your towel and just sweat. So, I wanted to know what are the benefits for using a sauna? Also I see people go in there right after working out and some of them go in fully clothed (even in sweats)! If you could reply, I would really appreciate it!"
This is a great question, and what a nice perk that your gym now has a sauna. I love saunas and to see why read more