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Saunas: A Timeless Tradition Making a Modern Comeback

  • America's Sauna Craze

    14 DIC. 2023 · Saunas: How America is Embracing the Heat Step into a soothing sauna and you’ll instantly be enveloped in dry, hot air that opens your pores, relaxes your muscles, and simply makes you feel good. While saunas have long been popular in Nordic countries like Finland, a major sauna movement is now taking off across the United States. From gyms to spas to high-rise apartments, saunas are popping up just about everywhere you look nowadays. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the number of saunas in the U.S. has increased by over 19% in the past two years alone. Industry experts attribute this rapid growth to greater awareness of sauna benefits, more access and options, and a wellness-focused culture craving healthy ways to de-stress. For decades, scientists have studied the many therapeutic perks related to sauna bathing. Regular sauna use has been linked to lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation and chronic pain, boosting cardiovascular health, improving circulation, and even living longer. For instance, a large 2022 study published in JAMA Network Open found adults who used saunas four to seven times per week had a 47% lower risk of dementia than those who just used saunas once per week. “Saunas provide a type of heat therapy that puts your body under stress, causing physiological reactions that can strengthen your overall health,” explains Dr. Jonathan Smith, director of the Sauna Research Institute. “Using a sauna is basically like giving yourself a fever on purpose.” While old-fashioned wood-burning saunas with searing hot temperatures may seem intimidating to newcomers, a wider range of more accessible and modern sauna options exists today. From lower-temperature infrared saunas to social dry saunas made for relaxation, people can now customize their sauna experience to match their personal needs and comfort level. Lauren Benson, owner of City Saunas in San Francisco, has built an entire business around the concept of social saunas focused on community. “We designed our saunas to bring people together rather than be isolating. Our custom cedar wood cabins have large glass doors, so you can sit around chatting even when you work up a good sweat!” said Benson. Luxury apartment complexes, elite fitness centers, and trendy spas nationwide have also started integrating saunas into their amenities to satisfy demand while commanding higher rents and membership fees. Market researchers predict more than 6 million saunas will populate the American landscape by 2025. While Nordic countries still corner the sauna scene globally, America appears primed to give them a real run for their money as the mass embrace of saunas and their multitude of benefits continues heating up in communities across the country. So whether you’re hoping to unwind after a long day or give your heart health an extra boost, hop into the nearest sauna and see firsthand why this hot trend shows no signs of cooling down anytime soon. Thanks for listening to Quiet Please. Remember to like and share wherever you get your podcasts.
    3m 2s
  • Steaming Through the Ages: A History of Saunas

    14 DIC. 2023 · Steaming Through the Ages: A History of Saunas With origins dating back thousands of years, saunas are one of humanity’s oldest bathing traditions. Today, stepping into a wooden sauna feels like entering a peaceful refuge from the stresses of modern life. But saunas have an extensive history rooted in ceremony, healing, social connection, and the very survival of ancient cultures living in extreme cold climates. Ancient Beginnings While the first recorded saunas date back to around 500-300 BC in Russia and the Baltic regions of Eastern Europe, historians believe sauna-like bathing habits likely emerged much earlier. Primitive underground pits heated by burning stones provided bathing sanctuaries for ancient tribes residing in Siberia, the Urals, and Scandinavian territories thousands of years ago. Archeologists have discovered ancient sauna structures uncovered in burial mounds containing charred rocks dating back over 2000 years. In these bitterly cold climates, heating rocks to warm dwellings and cleanse bodies served both practical and spiritual means. Heating elements separated sacred sauna spaces from living areas for conducting birth rituals, preparing the deceased before burial, and other ceremonial events. Frequent sauna bathing was also necessary for simple survival – to reduce the spread of diseases, handle harsh winters, and cleanse when bathing in icy lakes proved impossible. For many northern hunters and gatherers, the sauna was so central to a tribe’s ability to endure brutal winters that it became enshrined as a sacred place worthy of offerings and worship. There are records of reindeer antlers and animal bones found in ancient archeological sauna sites, likely from sacrifices made to sauna spirits. Finnish mythology even tells of special forest spirits and deities believed to protect families who bathed and tended to their saunas properly. Saunas Spread Through Trade & War One of the earliest written accounts of primitive saunas comes from Greece in the 5th century BC. Greek philosopher Herodotus wrote of nomadic tribes in the Eurasian steppes using felt tents with heated rock flooring to produce steam for bathing. As contact increased between cultures from Roman expansion to the spice-trade routes of the Middle Ages, saunas began mushrooming across new territories. Returning crusaders and war veterans brought home descriptions of Turkish and Russian bathhouses known as “hammams” featuring aromatherapy, steam rooms, and ancient spa treatments. Trade and Viking settlements continued dispersing sauna designs, construction techniques, and bathing rituals across northern regions. By the 17th and 18th centuries, saunas had become ingrained across Scandinavia, the Baltic States, Eastern Europe and Russia as a ubiquitous cultural practice tied to national identity. Modern Revival While saunas remained popular across northern Europe into the 20th century, their utility started fading as homes and plumbing modernized. By the middle of the 1900s, many view saunas as outdated relics from rural life gradually vanishing from urban areas. But a growing nostalgia for cultural traditions – coupled with new research into myriad health benefits from thermal bathing – soon spurred a nationwide revival of public saunas across Nordic regions and Germany. Meanwhile in North America, a handful of Finnish and German immigrants had been introducing backyard saunas in local communities starting around the 1920s. But these remained rare oddities unfamiliar to most North Americans until a postwar craze for recreational saunas suddenly erupted in the 1950s – spearheaded by a booming middle-class awash with discretionary income seeking leisure and adventure. A 1957 Life Magazine feature story thrust saunas into the mainstream spotlight after detailing President Eisenhower’s enjoyment of Finnish sauna bathing for improved circulation. High-profile celebrities, professional athletes, and even doctors began endorsing saunas as pathways to boosting cardiovascular health, muscle recovery, stress relief, and mental well-being. Backyard recreational saunas started appearing in many suburban neighborhoods as the wellness movement took off through the 1970s and 80s. The Global Sauna Today with greater demand for self-care routines and preventative wellness, saunas in private homes and fitness clubs have exploded in popularity worldwide. Modern athletic training programs now regularly incorporate sauna sessions to help athletes heal faster between competitions. Even industries like tech campuses and white-collar workspaces have started integrating infrared saunas as worker perks to stimulate productivity. While the designs and heating elements have modernized across various global cultures, the elemental experience of gathering with others for collective sweating, healing, and community remains surprisingly close to ancient indigenous traditions. More than just a physiological experience, saunas retain their transcendent feeling as sanctuaries for healthy social connection, relaxation, and rejuvenation of both body and spirit across societies today. So next time you step into that blissfully steamy wooden haven, remember you are partaking in a beautifully ancestral bathing ritual passed down through generations, one steaming rock at a time. Thanks for listening to Quiet Please. Remember to like and share wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening to Quiet Please. Remember to like and share wherever you get your podcasts.
    5m 42s

Saunas: How America is Embracing the Heat Step into a soothing sauna and you’ll instantly be enveloped in dry, hot air that opens your pores, relaxes your muscles, and simply...

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Saunas: How America is Embracing the Heat
Step into a soothing sauna and you’ll instantly be enveloped in dry, hot air that opens your pores, relaxes your muscles, and simply makes you feel good. While saunas have long been popular in Nordic countries like Finland, a major sauna movement is now taking off across the United States.
From gyms to spas to high-rise apartments, saunas are popping up just about everywhere you look nowadays. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the number of saunas in the U.S. has increased by over 19% in the past two years alone. Industry experts attribute this rapid growth to greater awareness of sauna benefits, more access and options, and a wellness-focused culture craving healthy ways to de-stress.
For decades, scientists have studied the many therapeutic perks related to sauna bathing. Regular sauna use has been linked to lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation and chronic pain, boosting cardiovascular health, improving circulation, and even living longer. For instance, a large 2022 study published in JAMA Network Open found adults who used saunas four to seven times per week had a 47% lower risk of dementia than those who just used saunas once per week.
“Saunas provide a type of heat therapy that puts your body under stress, causing physiological reactions that can strengthen your overall health,” explains Dr. Jonathan Smith, director of the Sauna Research Institute. “Using a sauna is basically like giving yourself a fever on purpose.”
While old-fashioned wood-burning saunas with searing hot temperatures may seem intimidating to newcomers, a wider range of more accessible and modern sauna options exists today. From lower-temperature infrared saunas to social dry saunas made for relaxation, people can now customize their sauna experience to match their personal needs and comfort level.
Lauren Benson, owner of City Saunas in San Francisco, has built an entire business around the concept of social saunas focused on community. “We designed our saunas to bring people together rather than be isolating. Our custom cedar wood cabins have large glass doors, so you can sit around chatting even when you work up a good sweat!” said Benson.
Luxury apartment complexes, elite fitness centers, and trendy spas nationwide have also started integrating saunas into their amenities to satisfy demand while commanding higher rents and membership fees. Market researchers predict more than 6 million saunas will populate the American landscape by 2025.
While Nordic countries still corner the sauna scene globally, America appears primed to give them a real run for their money as the mass embrace of saunas and their multitude of benefits continues heating up in communities across the country. So whether you’re hoping to unwind after a long day or give your heart health an extra boost, hop into the nearest sauna and see firsthand why this hot trend shows no signs of cooling down anytime soon. Thanks for listening to Quiet Please. Remember to like and share wherever you get your podcasts.
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