Christmas is over and the dark months of January and February are upon us.
For many, these months can be the toughest of the year.
November and December have the excitement of Christmas and holidays to get you through, but January and February offer very little to motivate.
Dark mornings lead into dark evenings and cosying up in front of the TV with large hearty meals seems the best option.
However, there is one very simple and very healthy habit you could introduce into your life this Winter which will keep any unwanted pounds off, help you sleep better and keep body, mind and skin feeling fresh and that is …. an evening Sauna.
Below are 10 reasons why you should introduce an evening sauna into your Winter routine.
10 Reasons Why Saunas are Healthy
1. Saunas Improve Cardiovascular Fitness
Unbelievably, the main source of most diseases in the modern world today stem directly or partially from stress.
Studies show that stress negatively impacts our health and not surprisingly people who visit saunas regularly often cite stress reduction as its main benefit.
Sitting in a sauna can be relaxing in many ways.
- The warmth relaxes your body’s muscles
- Sauna’s are quiet spaces to be alone with thoughts without distraction
- Sauna’s improve blood circulation
- Sauna’s stimulate the release of endorphins.
Endorphins are your body’s all-natural “feel good” chemical.
- Using a sauna 2 to 3 times per week reduces the risk of cardiac incidents (heart attacks) by 27% and 4-7 times per week reduces the risk by 50%.
- Regular sauna use reduces the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Long-term sauna use results in healthier arteries.
- One 15 minute sauna session can increases the heart rate similar to aerobic exercise to a range between 120-150 beats per minute.
2. Saunas relax muscles, soothe aches and pains, help joints and help your body recover after intense exercise
The intense heat from a sauna causes the body to release endorphins.
Endorphins help relieve pain from joints, arthritis and general muscle stiffness.
The sensation of endorphins being released into your body can also be quite relaxing helping aid in a deeper sleep which again greatly aids in body recovery.
The high temperature also causes blood vessels to dilate which increases blood circulation.
An increase of blood flow throughout the body helps speed up the body’s natural healing process.
High heat also helps release lactic acid and other toxins which may be trapped in stiff muscles from stress or physical exercise.
- Sauna’s help stimulate growth hormones by 150-250% after a single sauna session which help in strength training and recovery time.
- Sauna’s reduce muscle atrophy.
- Studies show that 3 weeks of regular sauna use increased run time to exhaustion in male distance runners by 30%.
3. Saunas Improve Your Sleep
Vast research shows the benefits of sleep with regards body recovery.
However, not all sleeps are the same.
The deeper the sleep the greater the rejuvenation and faster the recovery speed in accelerated tissue repair.
Using a sauna in the evening increases the likelihood of achieving a deep sleep state.
While using the sauna your body temperature increases and endorphins are released.
Upon leaving the sauna your body temperature and the release of endorphins will slowly begin to fall inducing a calm and relaxing state throughout mind and body as you near bedtime.
4. Saunas Eliminate Toxins and Detoxify our Bodies.
Our bodies absorb toxins such as lead, copper, zinc, nickel and mercury daily.
One of the best ways to clean these toxins from our system is to have a deep sweat.
A deep sweat is not the sweat we have when crammed into a subway or stressed at work. A deep sweat occurs when our heart rate is elevated.
A deep sweat can only be achieved through intense exercise or sauna (heat).
Many of us do not deep sweat on a daily basis and this becomes even more difficult during the Winter months.
Due to the high heat of the sauna the endless benefits from a deep sweat can be enjoyed.
5. Saunas Relieve Stress
There are endless studies which show the relationship between a healthy body and healthy mind and vice versa.
Introducing Sauna use into your weekly routine helps relax the body and therefore the mind helping you cope with daily stresses.
Constantly relaxing and drinking water in a warm quiet place helps reduce the build up of smaller issues.
The reduction of this build up of smaller stress bites offers an overall reduction in the risk of depression and anxiety.
The improved cardiorespiratory fitness also greatly contributes to the therapeutic effects of the sauna.
6. Sauna's Reduce the Risk of Alzheimers
A 20-year study conducted with more than 2,300 participants at the University of Eastern Finland by Dr. Jari Laukkanen revealed regular sauna use lowered the risk for Alzheimer’s and Dementia by 65%*
*Regular sauna use was approximately 4 to 7 times per week for 20 minutes.
7. Saunas Reduce the Likelihood of Catching a Cold
Research shows that saunas reduce the chances of catching a cold.
The high heat helps the body produce white blood cells more rapidly which helps to fight colds and viruses.
Saunas can of course also fight the symptoms of sinus congestion from colds as hot steam is a great way to clear nasal passages and airways.
(Tip: Add Eucalyptus oil for an added punch)
8. Sauna's Keep Your Skin Looking and Feeling Fresh
You can use all the skin creams in the world, but nothing helps your skin look and feel fresher than sweating.
Your skin is the bodies largest organ and sweating keeps it in a healthy working condition.
Deep sweating cleanses your skin of toxins and rinses bacteria out of your sweat ducts.
This results in old skin cells being replaced by new skin cells which give your skin that fresh glow.
9. Saunas Help You Lose Weight
Sauna’s help burn calories but will occur most notably in people in poor shape.
While sauna’s can help you burn calories, its main benefit is in helping one maintain a healthy weight.
Intense sweating does require high amounts of energy.
Studies show an average person can sweat approximately 300 calories in one 15 minute sauna session.
More importantly, the increase of your heart rate and the release of oxygen increases the likelihood of drinking water.
Drinking more water helps regulate hunger and reduces the desire to eat large meals late in the evening.
10. Saunas Help the Mind
The sauna is the perfect environment for open and intimate conversations with family or friends.
However, it can also be a private, personal area of relaxation and meditation.
About the Author
Another day, another dollar 🙂
You wake up, take a shower, have some breakfast and you’re out the door to work.
Into the car, automatically turn on the radio to your usual channel and before you know it, you begin your days work as you have so many others.
8 hours pass and as you drive home, all you want is to eat and sleep.
Every day, it’s the same story.
Repetition, repetition, repetition.
It is not good for your soul.
We are conscious of this. We know deep down we have to take care of our mental and spiritual needs. We need to replenish our souls with healthy foods, fresh air and nature, but sometimes we find ourselves stuck in the day to day.
Healthy breakfasts, random smiles, deep breaths, time spent with hobbies – these are more important to each of us than we know (but we know)
So one day, you decide to go for a stroll.
You break your routine and let the wind and fresh air guide you.
You watch rows of green fields instead of rows of cars.
You wake up your senses with the smell of nature instead of a petrol station.
You listen to the birds singing not politicians ranting.
You decide you want to be free.
You decide to take a much-deserved stroll around Westport.
Westport is blessed with a calming inner spirit surrounded by an active energy.
Walk along the oceanside, climb its hills, relax with a coffee or enjoy a beer – the traditional way.
Because Westport is a town with more life than most cities. Nurtured by summer tourism the sun constantly dances across the big Atlantic sky creating ethereal landscapes worthy of being photographed.
A perfect setting to create a deserved rest 😉
Maybe you start with a creamy latte in O’Cees coffee shop at 8 am.
Being the first in you sit by the window, (because you’re smart like that 😉
Sitting by the window you will watch the world go by as the town and it’s inhabitants come to life.
We need a connection to nature, so we hit the greenway.
Watch as early birds catch the worms. They’re bouncing flighty enthusiasm distils into you and you decide to stroll to The Quay.
Surrounded by nature and gorgeous scenery you are then hit by the delightful aroma of the Atlantic Ocean.
A pedestrian recommends The Creel, a cosy cafe where you order a deserved water and a freshly baked, takeaway scone.
Today is a day to stand on the edge staring out at sea.
Walking on with coffee and carbs bursting through you discover Aughavale cemetery. You are reminded of the past and know you should take more pleasure in the present.
When you arrive at the location you will discover Aughavale cemetery. a place that will impose you respect. A lot of past lives rest in it a big meadows since there you can see the Groagh Patrick Mountain.
Surrounded by meadow, you breathe deep staring at the mighty Croagh Patrick Mountain.
Walking on you experience Roman island, its history, beauty and splendid panoramic views.
You awake to feel slightly more alive.
You begin to enjoy the feeling of energy.
You decide to try a continental breakfast in Knockranny hotel while watching Westport rise.
From your table, you see Croagh Patrick, and you think, will I?
Climbing Croagh Patrick would be crazy, but you do decide to rent a bike and cycle to the foot of the mountain.
You finish your healthy breakfast and before you know you’re pedalling past the picturesque world of Westport.
Arriving at Croagh Patrick you walk to the man himself, Saint Patrick. Standing below him, you see the inviting mountain behind him.
Taking some food from your backpack, you decide to just put one foot in front of the other; just for a little while.
Breathing, walking and listening to your favourite podcast you reach the summit. Getting out into the fresh air and pushing your body to feel alive is not as tricky as you thought it was.
When you go down to come back to your favorite hostel, you see a magic sunset and you feel an inmense happiness.
Returning down, with a feeling of contentment you enjoy a sunset for the first time in a while.
You feel good.
If for some strange reason you DO NOT want to enjoy an Irish breakfast (makes no sense to me 😉 and you are feeling like you want to light breakfast of fruits, yoghurts, jams and fresh breads below are few establishments in Westport which offer a delicious, fresh and healthy continental breakfast.
With a great selection of food and even better view, The Knockranny Hotel is a wonderful spot to enjoy a light breakfast in a bright atmosphere.
The open buffet style offers a great variety of fruits, cereals and natural yogurts, as well as juices, honey’s and pastries.
The panoramic view of Westport is also a delight as you read your paper and awake to the world.
The Castlecourt Hotel
The Castlecourt Hotel is also a great choice if fancying a lighter, continental breakfast in Westport.
With large a selection, quality products and a nice atmosphere, it makes for a lovely morning breakfast.
The Westport Hotel
Inside the Westport Hotel situated in the heart of Westport is the Islands Bar and Restaurant offering a healthy buffet style breakfast everyday from 7.30am until 11am.
In a relaxed atmosphere, they offering a choice of freshly baked bread, fresh fruits, cold meats, fish and cheeses.
Of course the The Hot Buffet does offer traditional Full Irish Breakfast (if desired)
A great little side benefit of The Westport Hotel is its location. I always love a stroll after breakfast so grab your last coffee to go and enjoy roaming the grounds of Westport House right outside the door.