Sauna Q&A / Jan Seepter

How does sauna affect your body?

03 Jun 2021

Having a sauna is one of the best ways to keep your body healthy and strong. Dosages of sauna must always be based on your health status. While it suffices for a healthy person to proceed from how he or she feels (*1), caution must be exercised both in case of high and low blood pressure.

In such a case, you should take into consideration that the heat from sauna dilates vessels, causing the blood pressure to drop. However, in cooling processes the blood vessels contract and the blood pressure rises. Thus, in case of hypertension cooling processes should be limited to cool water (about 18 degrees or warmer), and in case of hypotension more caution should be exercised on the sauna bench.

If you have low blood pressure, you might want to spend less time in the steam room at any one time and instead take shorter trips. In times between, cool down properly. You could take a cool/cold shower, submerge yourself in water or roll in snow, whatever is the best for you. In case of high blood viscosity (if the blood is “thick”) and varicosis (multiple varices), you should be aware of additional temporary loss of fluids and a potential risk of thrombosis. In such cases, consult with your doctor regarding any sauna procedures. A specialist should be consulted about sauna practices in aggravation phases of heart and chronic diseases. If you have fever, having a sauna is not recommended. Pregnant women should follow a “lighter” version of their sauna habits.

Throughout millennia sauna has been a temple of health and a venue of magical rites in very different regions from Japan to Central America. And the tradition of sauna lives and continues to develop. Everyone has a chance to discover the part of sauna procedures they want to make their own. You just need to pay attention and listen to your body. This guarantees proper relaxation, relief of stress and cleansing. And there may be a bonus: a quick visit to the world of good thoughts, new ideas and magical moments.

*1 Katriina Kukkonen-Harjula & Kyllikki Kauppinen (2006) Health effects and risks of sauna bathing, International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 65:3, 195-205