When I was in high school, my best friend had a sauna in her house. It led out the back to a jacuzzi. Because of the unique features of her basement, it was a popular place for us to hang out, listening to Bob Marley for hours on end.
Since then, the only time I've taken to either a sauna or a jacuzzi has been when I'm at a hotel or resort. I'm just not much into sitting around in super heated spaces.
This past month, however, I've dealt with some odd, recurring foot soreness. There is no injury and it's not a sharp, isolated pain. Whenever I sit or lie down for more than a couple of minutes, standing and walking is painful. My feet feel swollen and achy. Walking is difficult and painful — for a few minutes.
Now I'm not trying to be all about the old lady moaning about her health issues. I did take a good run on the treadmill today, so I'm not incapacitate or anything. But the weeks of soreness bothers me, if only because I can't figure out why it started.
In any event, the thought of soaking in a warm jacuzzi or sitting in a toasty sauna actually sounds inviting. Still, I wasn't sure if putting myself in a wood paneled oven to bake was really healthy, so I did some research. Harvard Medical School did a study on saunas to see if they were helpful or harmful. The result was that saunas are safe under normal conditions and have the benefit of “relaxation and a feeling of well-being.”
The research offered some sauna safety tips to optimize the benefits:
- Stay in no more than 15–20 minutes.
- Cool down gradually after your sauna session.
- Drink 2–4 glasses of water after your session.
- Avoid alcohol and meds that produce overheating or impair sweating.
Next time you need a place for some R&R, consider the jacuzzi or sauna. And remember, you can burn up to 300 calories in a single sauna session!