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Destination: a personal story on the benefits of regular sauna visits

I've previously compiled a rather extensive list of fantastic saunas in Norway. However, I'd like to delve a bit further into the benefits it brings to your physical and mental health. I visit the sauna at least 2-3 times per week, in sessions of about 1,5 hour. To answer the question on how long you should stay in a sauna; it's a bit personal and depending on the heat. I usually take between 10-15 min before I jump into the ice-cold waters of the Oslo-fjord. Much longer than 15 min is not recommended. I actually wrote a rather personal story for PUST on how the sauna helped me to recover from a burn-out. But I'd understand if you're not here for any personal notes.

Sauna in Norway

So here's a concise overview of what regular sauna visits could mean for you and your health. Of course, everyone reacts differently, so it's essential to assess beforehand whether the sauna is right for you. If you have asthma or heart conditions, it's advisable to consult your doctor first. Generally, though, sauna visits offer a myriad of physical and mental benefits. Let us set off!

Physical Benefits

1. Improved Circulation: Sauna heat widens blood vessels, promoting circulation. This can enhance blood flow to various body parts, potentially aiding in muscle recovery and reducing muscle pain. Better blood circulation is crucial for overall health, including brain function.

2. Muscle Relaxation: Sauna heat helps relax muscles, alleviating tension and promoting a sense of well-being. If you're into regular gym sessions, strenuous work, or frequent cycling, a sauna visit is brilliant for muscle relieve.

3. Detoxification: Sauna-induced sweating helps eliminate toxins, primarily through the skin. This process can contribute to a sense of cleanliness and purification, removing substances like fine particles, microplastics, and cosmetic residues, while shedding dead skin cells faster.

4. Improved Cardiovascular Health: Regular sauna use may have cardiovascular benefits, including potential blood pressure reduction and overall heart health improvement. It can also contribute to better endothelial function, providing a gentle way to train and maintain a healthy heart.

5. Boosted Immune System: Some studies suggest that regular sauna sessions stimulate the production of white blood cells, crucial for the immune system. With regular sauna visits, you reduce the likelihood of colds and flu.

6. Pain Relief: Saunas can provide relief for various pains, including joint pain and discomfort associated with conditions like arthritis or fibromyalgia, offering relief as you age.

7. Improved Skin Health: Sauna heat and sweating contribute to healthier skin by opening pores, promoting circulation, and potentially aiding in the removal of dead skin cells.

Mental Benefits

1. Stress Reduction: Sauna sessions induce a state of relaxation, reducing stress levels. The combination of heat and the calming environment contributes to an overall sense of well-being.

2. Improved Sleep: Sauna-induced relaxation can enhance sleep quality. The drop in body temperature after leaving the sauna can mimic the body's natural sleep-inducing process, lowering cortisol levels and addressing sleep disorders.

3. Mood Enhancement: Regular sauna use is associated with the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. This can contribute to an improved mood and a sense of euphoria.

4. Cognitive Benefits: Some studies suggest that sauna use can positively impact cognitive functions, including memory and attention, with improved circulation to the brain playing a role in these cognitive benefits.

5. Social Interaction: Saunas are often communal spaces, providing opportunities for social interaction and forming connections, contributing to mental well-being.

I am fortunate to be in Norway, where I can fully enjoy icy seawater and temperatures well below freezing. However, even in a more temperate climate, the positive effects of the sauna remain unchanged. No sauna nearby? Consider a weekend trip to Oslo!


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