Getting the Most Out of Saunas
So many things in life make us feel good, but science hasn’t always been able to explain why. A tender hug from a child. A handmade kite in flight. Overhearing somebody compliment us especially when we’re supposed to be out of earshot. The warm, sweet smell of freshly baked cookies. And, of course, time spent in a sauna. If only we could bottle them, people say of these wonderful sensations. Then we could enjoy them whenever we want to. Indeed, the ability to improve one’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being on demand would be a splendid thing.
4 An ever-ready conventional heater remains warm at all times to reduce the heat-up time. This model can be controlled by a hand-held remote so bathers need not exit the sauna to adjust the thermostat or timer.
So imagine my joy when I heard that researchers from Oklahoma State University had found evidence that sweat therapy is an effective way to improve mental well-being. The heat of a sauna or sweat lodge is a dynamic force, researcher Stephen Colmant said at a 2003 meeting of the American Psychological Association. Group sweating has had a central place in societies through-out the world for thousands of years in helping people gain more physical, mental, and spiritual health.
In short, Colmant and his colleagues examined the way 24 participants responded to counseling. One group received just counseling, and the other received counseling along with group sweat therapy in a 145°F (63°C) sauna. The sauna group reported more relaxation, stress relief, and a feeling of accomplishment from having sweated it out. They also found their counseling to be more beneficial, and they got along better with other members of their group. According to the researchers, this suggests that there is an impact on a person’s mental well-being that occurs with physiological changes.
I have always thought it was impossible to be mad at or to fight with someone while enjoying a sauna together. Now I have discovered that science backs me up.
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