The Sauna and Elderly Family Members
Regular use of an authentic Russian sauna is an effective way of prolonging an active lifestyle in members of the elderly generation. As the Russian saying goes, 'every day spent in the banya, is one day further from old age'. The traditional Russian sauna is safe for older people to use and we recommend having a sauna session at least once a month. In this article, we look at the benefits of the Russian sauna for the ageing body, special steam session procedures for the elderly, as well as health conditions under which the sauna should be used with caution or even avoided.
Note, by Russian sauna we mean an authentic Russian ‘banya’, ‘bath house’, fitted with a traditional, masonry stove proven to generate the light steam and soft heat so valued by sauna connoisseurs. In our opinion, modern style saunas, electric heaters and other 'misconceptions' as we call them, are far from beneficial to the health, particularly for members the older generation. Furnace Art Engineering specialises in creating classical sauna stoves and steam rooms. Our stoves are designed with a unique, self-contained feature which enables them to ventilate the steam room. It is particularly important that the air in the steam room be clean and pre-heated when an older person is enjoying a sauna session.
Health benefits The Russian sauna provides a kind of excellent 'training session' for all the body's systems and organs. An elderly person's immune system in especially in need of strengthening and support. Regular visits to the steam room reduces susceptibility to colds and increases resistance to viral infections. Time spent in the steam room places an increased demand on the cardiovascular system, which results in the body creating an increased reserve leading to less tiredness in everyday life.
During a visit to the steam room, an elderly person releases sweat and toxins from the body at the same time. The rate of blood flow accelerates and high density cholesterol is reduced, reducing the risk of atherosclerosis caused by a buildup of fatty substances in the arteries. Regular use of a sauna also improves coordination and evens blood flow in the extremities, which become less susceptible to the cold as a result. If an elderly person is inclined to weight gain, the sauna can help in losing excess weight relatively quickly. The results should be consolidated by reducing one’s salt intake.
The Russian sauna is a perfect way of exercising the respiratory system. During a sauna session, pulmonary ventilation rises to 40% increasing blood flow and oxygenation. As a result, the brain is activated helping restore mental clarity and improving the memory. There is no room for depression in a sauna! 'Pareniye', (thermal massage with an aromatic, leafy sauna switch) stimulates the metabolism and lifts the spirits. After a sauna, sleep tends to be peaceful and undisturbed. Anxiety is soothed and the desired rest can be achieved without needing to take pills.
Studies have shown that regular use of a Russian sauna can increase longevity by at least 10-15 years and mature sauna fans tend to look much younger than their peers.
Special sauna procedures for the elderly Everything is good in moderation. The extreme effects on the body that can be generated by exposure to the steam room should be mitigated. We recommend 2-3 exposures to the steam room instead of the usual 5-7, gradually increasing the time of each exposure from 5-10 minutes. The head should be covered with a felt hat and the hair kept dry. A warm shower should be taken prior to the steam session. To avoid the risk of dizziness no food should be eaten for at least 2 hours before taking a sauna.
Of course, with time, it is better to forego the cold plunge pool and avoid sitting on the higher level benches in the steam room. 'Pareniye', thermal massage with an aromatic sauna switch is a must! The beneficial substances contained in the sauna switch have a surprisingly restorative effect. Note the use of oak, eucalyptus and birch.
Whilst visiting the sauna one should take more frequent breaks and to restore one's normal breathing. If an elderly person finds that their head is beginning to spin or they feel tired, they should take a break and leave the steam room. A gentle temperature in the steam room is recommended, around 60°C. The aromatic substances used should also be limited. Any use of alcohol in the steam room by the elderly should be strictly avoided.
Sauna use should be avoided under the following medical issues Unfortunately, sauna use should be avoided by elderly members of the family if they suffer from the following medical conditions. First and foremost, acute conditions and acute exacerbations of chronic disease such as acute myocardial infarction, viral infections, flu and colds. Stage 3 hypertension (systolic blood pressure above 200), Parkinson's disease, thrombophlebitis. If you suffer from a health condition, be sure to consult your doctor before using the steam room.
At Furnace Art Engineering we specialise in traditional, Russian sauna stoves. To fully enjoy all the health benefits of a Russian sauna, order one of our custom made 'turnkey' saunas.