Bwog is pleased to bring the second edition of our relaxation series. This time, our Scandinavian-in-Residence Ricky Raudales tells you how and why to take advantage of the sauna. Treat yourself (literally!) after your long weekend of studying.
With the dog days of summer mere weeks away, the sauna may not seem like the most intuitive option. Yet, as any Scandinavian may attest to, an indoor heat bath has year round flexibility (the Finn even conduct business meetings in saunas!). Columbia undergrads, to be sure, are generally unaware that Dodge Gym has automated saunas open during all seasons, seven days a week—no private membership required.
For the inexperienced newcomer, the hardest part of using the sauna facilities is actually finding them. Tucked in a secluded corner of either locker room, just opposite a janitorial closet, the location seems to suggest an architectural afterthought, at best. When you do eventually stumble across the frosted glass-paneled entrance, you’ll be sure you’ve hit home.
Now, there’s not really much preparation needed before stepping into the sauna. Seasoned users recommend taking a cold shower immediately beforehand in order to fully experience the invigorating temperature extremes. Saunas can reach temperatures of up to two hundred degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s especially important to stay hydrated throughout the session. Those with cardiac problems or other health concerns should also consult a doctor before exposure to the heat. Otherwise crank up that dial and rest assured, as the therapeutic benefits of saunas far outweigh any cause for concern.
As you probably already worked out, your sauna session will induce profuse sweating. So much, in fact, that some studies have found that the sweat bath help relieve the body of chemical solvents, drugs, and heavy metals. There have been other health benefits as well. For a brief lesson in physiology, the sauna room temperatures will trigger the dilation of your blood vessels. You’ll soon feel relaxed as your brain rewards you with beta endorphins, possibly leaving you in a state of mild euphoria. In addition, endurance sport athletes can reap the long-term benefits of increased tolerance to exercise and improved oxygen uptake.
Ultimately sauna use is a lifelong practice meant to be shared with others. While Dodge’s facilities are meant to be single-sex only, the city is home to dozens of historic bath houses and spas, many of which welcome men and women alike. So whether you’ve just finished on the treadmill or a studying for your final, head over to join New York’s other pastime.
Saunic Youth via Wikimedia