The two most commonly asked questions I hear about saunas are how long and how often. There is no universal answer that works for everyone, but here are some guidelines to help you.
Here’s the short answer.
Go into the sauna as often and stay in the sauna as long as you are comfortable. You may enjoy Sauna every day as many do each morning or evening in Finland, or only once on Saturday evenings to relax on the weekend. How long you stay in the sauna is also a question of comfort. Short answer? If and when you start to feel uncomfortable or disoriented then it’s time to leave the sauna.
How often should I use the sauna?
Frequency of sauna use is an entirely personal matter. You know the activities that make your life more enjoyable. If you really enjoy listening to music or reading a good book then you wouldn’t hesitate to listen to your favorite music or read every evening or as frequently as time allows, right? It’s the same with Sauna. If you are a rabid sauna lover you might Sauna every day. You might set aside a designated time once a week when you can unwind and relax leisurely. Have some fun and enjoy a regular Sauna date night with your significant other to break up the week on Wednesday nights? And for sure schedule family events and parties in the sauna. Need time to contemplate or pray? Head to the sauna. For solitude there is no better place than the sauna. So, there is no right frequency of sauna use for everyone, but many outstanding reasons to do so often!
How can something that feels so good be healthy for you too?
Aside from the happiness factor, there is emerging clinical evidence of the benefits of frequent sauna use. As reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)* frequent sauna users enjoy more significant health benefits than those who sauna only once per week. In a 20 year study of over 2,000 men it was found that those using Sauna 4-7 times per week showed a ..”considerable decreased risk of Sudden Cardiac Death, Coronary Heart Disease, fatal Cardiovascular Disease and all cause mortality events…” There is also evidence from other studies that suggests that sauna use can have an anabolic growth effect on muscles and increase endurance in athletes. Still other studies suggest a significant reduction in the occurrence of dementia in frequent sauna users. These potential health benefits of Sauna are the icing on the cake. The answer to how often you should Sauna is as often as you like to.
How long should I stay in the sauna?
As I mentioned before, length of stay in the sauna is a matter of comfort. As a caveat, if you have any outstanding medical issues you should first consult your physician about sauna use.
If you are a beginning sauna user you might sit on the lower bench for about 5 – 10 minutes (or less if uncomfortable or dizzy) and then come out to cool off and/or shower. When comfortable again, return for a second stay of 5 -10 minutes and then come out for a final shower. As you get more experienced and more comfortable you can try the upper bench (hot!) for 10-20 minutes, come out to cool off and then return for a second session. Rule of thumb: if you get dizzy or can’t do some simple math in your head it’s time to get out. Make sure you drink plenty of water before and after Sauna to rehydrate after sweating. Many experienced Sauna traditionalists enjoy adult beverages in the sauna. Caution: drinking alcoholic beverages causes dehydration, that when added to sweat loss in the sauna, can be hazardous to your health….and should be avoided.
Sauna use is fun and has potential health benefits too. How often you use and how long you stay in the sauna is a personal matter. Have fun finding out what’s just right for you!
If you would like to be a guest blogger on the LiveFit Blog, contact us!