If you have not been in an old-fashioned wood fired sauna you may not know what you are missing. A university study in Finland noted that men who took a sauna 4 to 7 times a week were more than 60 percent less likely to have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, as opposed to those who went once weekly. What about those who never go?
Going to a sauna is a ritual, especially with old fashioned ones still being used like the photo above. Beyond cutting firewood, pumping or hauling the water, and warming up the stove there are other benefits beyond possibly reducing dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and heart problems. Relaxation, meditation, a few good “vihta” beatings (we used cedar boughs often as they are green year round), a steam fight or two, good conversation, a jump in the snow bank for a break, and a cold bucket of water to rinse off are a few. Then there are other things to consider:
- To paraphrase Winston Churchill once said as London was under a bombardment alert: “I headed to the 10 Downing Street bomb shelter with a bottle of brandy and other necessary medications.” Really, people have been known to have a good drink in a sauna.
- A famous author once noted that one of the reasons an empire fell was: “The injuries of age.” A sauna can help with aging here as headaches, blood flow, soreness, arthritis, inflammation, and other conditions seem to improve in the detoxifying environment.
- It is also a solution for getting things done. Witnessed first-hand while in a sauna an influential resident asked an elected official if the gravel road could be paved to minimize the dust. A year later the road was paved just beyond the influential resident’s home—those further up the road still had gavel and dust. Imagine the other things that have been done or could be accomplished in a sauna.
A steam shower (shown above) may be a fair alternative to a sauna especially for those who do not live in the “Sauna Belt” (which is not something one wears around the waist). The Sauna Belt is the area where the Finns settled in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (aka Yooperland). Someone needs to study the benefits of modern steam showers or more saunas are needed.