In Finland, the sauna capital of the world, they say “The sauna is a poor man’s pharmacy.” How true is that? Let’s un-fog some myths and find out:

Myth: Saunas are safe for everyone.

Fact: Although saunas are usually safe for healthy adults, they’re definitely not for everyone. According to Dr. Harvey Simon, it is not advisable for people “with poorly controlled blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, unstable angina, and advanced heart failure.” Indeed, heart failure is the most significant sauna risk. After the initial boost in your heart rate, your muscles relax and your blood pressure drops – resulting in restricted blood flow to the heart. So if you’re thinking of hopping in a sauna, please talk with your doctor first!

Myth: Saunas provide extra moisture for the body.

Fact: Saunas have the opposite effect. Soaking in all that hot water can boost your body temperature as high as 104 degrees, causing your body to pour out an average of one pint of sweat during a single session. That’s why it is very important to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.

Myth: The longer you stay, the more benefits you reap.

Fact: Doctors recommend limiting your sauna stay to 15-20 minutes. That’s because exposing your body to excessive heat can have detrimental effects such as dehydration and abnormal heart rhythms.

Myth: Saunas are a great way to lose weight fast.

Fact: We all weigh less after a sauna session, but the lost water weight is temporary. In other words, when we replenish the lost fluids by drinking water or eating (as we should!), the weight is quickly gained back. Saunas can, however, increase our metabolic rates which may help in a gradual and more long-term weight-loss program. What do sauna-goers all agree on? It can do wonders to calm our minds and relax our bodies. No wonder Finland has 3.3 million saunas for only 5.3 million people!