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How to Use a Sauna: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Enjoy the Sauna the Safe and Proper Way

How to Use a Sauna: Every Sauna User's Step-by-Step Guide 

No one actually knows where the first saunas were built, but one thing is certain: it started somewhere in Northern Europe at around 2000 BC. Since then, it has remained an important part of cultural life to this day, especially in Estonia, Latvia, and Russia, as well as Finland. You can find a sauna in almost every country around the world, thanks to its proven health benefits. 

If you’re new to the sauna world, there is one important thing you ought to know: how to use a sauna the safe and proper way. Before you jump in, get to the know these proper steps and safety measures all sauna users must know. 

First off, what's a sauna?

A sauna, also called a sudatory, is a small room or a building designed as a place to experience dry or wet heat sessions. There are also establishments such as a spa with one or more of these facilities. The goal of a sauna session is to make the bathers perspire, which offers health benefits. 

Saunas are typically heated between 180°F and 195°F with very low humidity. It can be heated by wood, gas, electric, or even using infrared technology. 

How long can you sit in a sauna?

Typically, most sessions last for only 5 to 30 minutes and will largely depend on how used you are to heat. If you’re a beginner, it is advised not to stay longer than 15 minutes per session, but you can stay longer as you get used to it. Along with time and experience, take note of the sauna temperature as well. 

What should you wear in a sauna or steam room?

Most people prefer to wear at least a towel in shared public steam rooms or saunas. Although, if you’re alone, why not go naked? If it’s too uncomfortable for you, go for clothes with natural fibers such as cotton or loose-fitting shirts for added comfort. 

What are the benefits of using a sauna? 

Heat therapies have long been used to treat certain health conditions since then. According to the research published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information in the United States National Library of Medicine,  early doctors used the sun's rays for the purpose of heat therapy.

This practice even dates back to 500 BC, when Egyptian physicians applied specific rules for sun and heat therapy. Things like thermal baths, mud baths and hot air caverns linked to volcanic sources were all common practices since then. 

Here are some clinically-proven health benefits of regular sauna sessions. 

  • Regular Sauna use can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases
  • Reduce blood pressure and improve blood circulation
  • Sauna bathing can potentially delay aging
  • Sauna use can optimize athletic performance
  • Improve muscle function and recovery
  • Regular sauna sessions can fuel weight loss
  • Boost brain function and can potentially decrease the risk for Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Regular sauna sessions can boost the immune system
  • Promotes healthier skin
  • A sauna bath opens up clogged sinuses
  • Improves overall mental health and mood

We made a more detailed article about the benefits of sauna bathing. Check it out!


Read: Benefits of Using a Sauna to the Body According to Science


How to Use Sauna Properly: Your Step-by-Step Guide

how to use a sauna

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

First things first, before entering a sauna, make sure you are hydrated properly. Drink more water, tea or any beverage of your choice. It is recommended that you avoid drinks with high sugar content. Sauna sessions involve so much sweating, and you’d be at risk of dehydration, if you don’t hydrate well. 

2. Shower Before Entering the Sauna

Just like when you go swimming, take a quick shower beforehand. The shower makes the skin wet and removes perfumes, smells and excess oil that otherwise become stronger and more pungent in the sauna. Body scrubs are also recommended, for lightly exfoliating the skin. 

3. Take Off Your Clothes, Take a Sheet or Wear Something

Being naked is completely mandatory in a sauna, as long as you are comfortable. Take off as much clothes as possible and also any piece of jewelry. When you undress, wear as little as possible in the sauna. You can wear a swimwear or a towel inside, and take a sheet or a towel to sit on in the sauna. 

4. Dry Off the Body

Before entering the sauna room, your body should be completely dry (except the legs) in order to speed up perspiration. It is also important to shower your legs with warm water, as cold legs from the shower could postpone the effects of perspiration. 

5. Place the body on the sheet or a towel

how to use a sauna

When you’re already inside the sauna, sit on the sheet or a towel for added comfort. When going in or out the sauna, do it quickly and make sure that the door closes firmly in order not to spill out the heat.

6. Sit or Lie Still

When in the sauna, try to be still and avoid unnecessary movements. Breathe normally and relax yourself. You can sit or lie down, whatever is more comfortable. 

7. Take Note of the Sauna Time & Cooling Off

When entering the first time, do not stay in the sauna for more than 12 minutes. You can use an hour-glass on the sauna wall if there is any. People who are extra sensitive to the heat should not stay long inside a sauna. 

When the heat is enough for you, you can leave the sauna and gradually cool off. Take it easy on the cooling part, avoid extra cool showers since you just got off the heat. 

8. Repeating the Sessions

If you’re still not satisfied with your first session, you can still repeat it. You can cool off and then heat up as many times as you can, but for the majority of sauna users, two sessions is enough. 

In Summary

Saunas are not only relaxing, but there also are proven health benefits of sauna bathing such as promoting blood circulation, helps in muscle soreness, and delays aging, to name a few. A rule of thumb: if you have an underlying medical condition, it is best to consult your doctor first before adding a sauna routine. 

Using a sauna the proper and the safe way is definitely a must if you are a beginner. Before you jump in a sauna, remember these easy steps, and you're good to go. Enjoy that well-deserved sauna session!

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