Sharing moments Menopause Young adults Bye bye Hotel Mum How you feel at home Semester abroad Language course abroad or work as an au pair? Be prepared for military training Grassrooted Pack smarter, travel better Make an impression Contraception Vegan diet Bye bye Hotel Mum – hello shared flat Big trip, small budget Finanzielle Vorsorge Planning a family Tracking fertility The right time? How men can help Fertility and diet Medical check-up What you need to know about ovulation What to do if you don’t conceive straight away Three electronic fertility and cycle trackers in comparison Planning a family and partnership Pregnancy Examinations during pregnancy Diet and nutrition Is my pregnancy progressing normally? Tips for daily life Important points for travel and holidays Is my pregnancy progressing normally? What items do I need for my baby? Where and how do I want to give birth? What do I need to pack for the hospital? How should I prepare my home for my child? Is my pregnancy progressing normally? How can I best prepare for my baby? How can I best prepare for the birth? Nutrition Parent-child relationship Preparing for breastfeeding | Sanitas Magazine Insurance Stretch marks Sleep Rupture of membranes Baby blues High-risk pregnancy Braxton Hicks & false labour Formalitites Morning sickness Family rooms Signs of a premature birth Our baby Bathing baby – what you need to know How babies hear Infant first-aid kit Baby care Is my baby developing normally? Month-to-month overview of baby development Is my baby developing normally? Baby’s development: Months 3 and 4 Baby care Breastfeeding When does a baby start eating? Weight Baby growth spurts Toys Sun protection for baby skin Teething Milk teeth: what to do in case of accident Baby’s development: Months 5 and 6 Pelvic floor exercises after birth Babyschlaf Celebrating and enjoyment Christmas and New Year’s Eve with a twist A philosophical take on pleasure Pleasure can also be found in the soup kitchen in Zurich Tips for a peaceful and stress-free Christmas Living better with cardiac insufficiency Alejandro Iglesias Hana Disch Patrizio Orlando Vaccinations and travel first-aid kit Hay fever In pursuit of happiness Seven tips for a happier daily life Kids in lockdown Online addiction Women's hearts Decisions Decision-making tips Report from the hospital Donating a kidney Life decisions Emigrating to South America Geocaching Sexuality Erectile dysfunction Young people and sexuality Queer pastor Drag queen Paprika Sexually transmitted infections What does LGBTQIA+ stand for? Gender medicine HPV Families of transgender people Medically assisted suicide Types of dementia Family Blessing or curse? Knowing about hereditary diseases Families of dementia patients Be active Active during pregnancy Sport and exercise during pregnancy Antenatal exercise classes Standing properly Healthy eating Green smoothies Vitamin D Good eggs, bad eggs Diet plan Healthy fats Feed your muscles How much sugar should we eat a day? How much fat should we eat a day? Lactose intolerance Healthy diet, strong immune system Low Carb E-numbers and other additives in food Personalised diet Vegan meat substitutes Brain food: what should we eat? Healthy heart Interview with Christophe Wyss Heart-friendly sports How the mind affects the heart Taking blood pressure correctly High blood pressure: what you need to know Healthy teeth Home remedies: relief for sore gums A dentist explains Brushing up on brushing Changing habits Interview Stortpsychologie 10-step guide to changing habits Try, try, try again Fitnessmotivation Running coaching Running ABC Race in Sarnen Factors affecting condition Weekly planner Running shoes Strengthening exercises Running nutrition Complementary sport Warm-up Stretching Functional clothing Fitness tracker Shopping – sportswear Running tips for women Relaxation technique Recovery New lease of life thanks to Sanitas running coaching Sport after childbirth Postnatal exercise Taking the strain off your shoulders Kangatraining Workout while walking Expert tips Stress and relaxation Moving air Fight stress with yoga What is stress Learn how to relax Dealing with stress What is burnout? “The first step was to create boundaries” Juggling family and a career Reduce stress Stressor factors The most beautiful Swiss saunas Sweating in the sauna Breathing exercises for relaxation The right rest & recovery: debunking myths Mindfulness Sleep Constant availability: chronic stress Trend sports Fitness boxing Slackline Bouldering Fascia training Stand Up Paddling Keeping fit efficiently Swing with a smile! Vertical workout Hiking Altitude sickness Seven stroller-friendly hikes Needed: a hiking-friendly pushchair There goes the other sole! Tips on hiking with a baby Mountain lakes Winter walks Planning a family: Fertility and exercise Stair climbing Pumptrack Kids’ back Back exercises Sitting properly at work Forest fun Playing for life Promoting health and fitness Motivation Sledging Curling glossary What do you get if you cross a kite with snow? Snowshoeing Preventing falls Inline skating Swimming Swimming Wings for Life Stretching Bike tips Stretching exercises for cyclists koerper-und-kaelte Healthy teeth thanks to dental hygiene and preventive care Putting wishes into practice Tips for healthy teeth Hometraining Investigating teeth-related myths 10 tips to ease anxiety Hand care How our body regenerates The best abdominal exercises in five minutes Keeping fit on holiday Swim training aids Wie viel Sport ist gesund Gathering mushrooms – the right way | Sanitas Magazine Check-ups Five-minute stretching routine Gehirntraining Rückenschmerzen Licht Yogastile Ayurveda-Morgenroutine Tips for doing sport outside in winter Cross-country skiing for beginners Home remedies against dandruff Home remedies Home remedies for bladder infections Home remedies for a sore throat Home remedies for migraines Home remedies against excessive sweating Home remedies for a sun allergy Healthy feet, healthy back core exercises for mountain bikers Symptoms Check Sport after Corona HIIT: quick and efficient exercises Sore muscles: debunking myths Debunking swimming myths strength training for young people Exercise videos Whole-body workout Fascia training Lack of exercise Sun protection Strong mind How to be mentally strong Mental strength Psychosomatics Resilience Tips against feeling down Sleep hygiene and mental well-being Depression Panic attacks Prescription drug addiction ADHD: Symptoms in children and adults Mental illness: help for friends and family Living with autism Pressure to perform Alcoholism Mental health benefits of exercise Ways to brighten your mood Blood: myths and facts Hormones Complementary medicine: the most common treatments Complementary medicine Training in line with your menstrual cycle Living together today Digital life Online addiction Digital temptation Children and digital media Smartphone neck Digital responsibility and solidarity Our brains love habit Change my habits? You’re joking! Planning a family: Difficulties trying to have a baby Planning a family: Myth vs fact Solidarity study Newcomers Living together tomorrow Digital nomads Giesserei multi-generation house The blind film director Help instead of rent Working on the move Medical practices of the future Our skin – layer by layer Generational discussion: wishes for life Hausarzt und Corona Safe return to work Corona crisis: singing together Corona crisis: Working in intensive care Corona crisis: working in a nursing home Rest and recovery: learning from children Corona crisis: voluntary work for the needy Second opinion Relationships and children Three questions that keep us awake at night Outing The nature of lying Vorsorge Finding sound health-related information online Impfstoffe entwickeln Tipps für Jugendliche in der Corona-Krise Becoming parents Diagnose: Kind im Haus Long Covid Take it easy in your free time YouTuber Aditotoro on the coronavirus pandemic Minimalism for a happy life Thanks to corona: more time for family Back to life after a paragliding accident Decluttering: the answer to chaos Living and loving with autism Synaesthesia Talking to doctors Non-verbal communication Is there really a serial killer gene? Developments for the future App check Aqualert SRC blood donor Codecheck Forest Freedom Freeletics Three sleep apps reviewed PeakFinder Findery Six fitness apps reviewed Internet use High-tech trousers Prostheses Hospital of the future New skin for burns victims Online-Therapien How drugs are developed Generics A vision of the future: How we will live in 30 years Onward Overcoming erectile dysfunction Family medicine practices of the future Personalised medicine A voice for Clara Outpatient procedures
Dossier: Stress and relaxation

Sweating in the sauna

Saunas are widely believed to be relaxing, cleansing and healthy for body and mind. Their positive image is well-established all around the world. With a few rules, you can learn to take a sauna correctly, too.

Text: Robert Wildi; photo: Emilia Hoisko/

In cold northern countries, extreme warmth is seen as a cultural asset. During the long winters with high sub-zero temperatures, people in Finland crank up the temperature in their saunas. The majority of the 5.5 million Finns have a sauna in their own home, often taking the place of a bathroom. Sauna – which translates literally as “sweat room” – is actually a Finnish word.

Documents dating back more than 2,000 years indicate that this bathing option was first seen in East Asia and was brought to northern Europe by the original Finnish settlers. And from there it became a worldwide phenomenon.

Peace and relaxation

No matter how relaxing a sauna may be, your body does a lot of hard work. The heat increases the temperature of the skin’s surface by up to ten degrees, while your internal body temperature rises by one to two degrees. Your body reacts as if it’s fighting off a high temperature by activating defence cells. The blood vessels dilate and your pulse rate and respiration speed up. This places a short-term strain on the body and it releases stress hormones. That’s why it’s important to give your body time to cool off and relax between sauna sessions.

In the long term, taking saunas is good for your health. Studies – most of them from Finland, of course, – show that taking regular saunas lowers blood pressure and increases the elasticity of blood vessels. It improves the body’s constitution, relaxes the muscles and helps revitalise the skin. And last but not least, it improves your well-being.

Caution advised for heart patients

There is no right or wrong way to take a sauna as such. But it’s important to listen to your body, even if you only have a cold. You’re generally recommended to drink water before taking a sauna and not to stay in the heat longer than 15 minutes at a time. Cardiologist Christian Schmied from Zurich University Hospital emphasises that cardiovascular patients should stay in a sauna for no more than twelve minutes. They have to be careful and, for example, make sure they don’t shock their  body with cold water after the sauna. “It’s better to slowly cool your feet.” Many doctors advise patients who experience breathlessness and heart problems during minimal exertion to avoid saunas entirely.

Generally speaking, anyone who has a known medical condition should always consult their doctor before taking a sauna. This applies particularly to patients with asthma, diabetes, kidney problems, an overactive thyroid or multiple sclerosis. Anyone on medication also has to be careful. For example, blood pressure medication dehydrates the body and enhances the effect of the sauna. However, Dr Schmied says there’s no need to overreact either: “There’s no need to ban patients suffering from high blood pressure or heart problems from taking saunas completely.”

How to take a sauna correctly

  • Plan at least half a day  for your visit to the sauna.
  • Take a large towel, two small towels and pool shoes.
  • Shower and dry yourself thoroughly before and after taking a sauna.
  • Don’t take a sauna if you’re hungry or directly after you’ve eaten.
  • In the sauna, place the large towel under your whole body (so sweat doesn’t get on the wood).
  • Stay in the sauna for no more than 15 minutes at a time.
  • For the last two minutes, sit up straight so that the blood can flow slowly and steadily back into your legs.
  • After taking a sauna, cool down by using the Kneipp hose, a dousing shower or cold plunge pool.