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Ever since Meik Wiking’s 2016 bestselling lifestyle guide The Little Book of Hygge we’ve all been going crazy for the Scandinavian lifestyle.

One thing we’re huge fans of here at Taymouth Marina is the Scandinavian tradition of hot soaks, cold dips and Finnish saunas. With the vast majority of our accommodation having private hot tubs, one its own sauna and all providing guests with free access to our famous loch-side sauna the Hot Box, you can give it a go too. We promise you’ll never look back!

The process involves three key steps: warming the body to open pores; a plunge into cold water to rinse the toxins from the skin and close pores; and rest, time spent returning to body to its regular state. When repeated three to four times over a few hours, benefits include stress reduction, invigorated spirits and, of course, relaxation. In fact, a 25-year study by the University of Eastern Finland found that regular sauna can reduce the risk of hypertension.

Hopping into an icy loch or even a mound of snow may be the exact opposite of what you want to do midwinter, but it’s the most important part of the sequence. Our slide into Loch Tay is a lot easier than a drawn out walk in, and can get it over with faster . . . which is fine. Even if it’s a quick two- to 10-second rinse, you’re closing up the pores, rinsing off those negative toxins and effectively jump-starting your heart, creating this kind of shock effect, which in turn makes the heart pump your blood quickly. This creates an internal heat – which is the endorphins. That’s the energy. That’s the whole experience. And you can always reward yourself Scandi-style with a cup of mulled wine afterward or a wee dram at the Hot Box bar afterwards

While many people have heard of the “hot sauna cold plunge” technique, the health benefits are not always fully understood. The benefits of a “hot sauna cold plunge” go way back to the Nordic cultures who originated the technique – a 20 minute sauna session, followed by a cold water dip or cool shower. Ideally the hot/cold exposure is repeated until the body is completely relaxed. The “hot sauna cold plunge” technique is intense, and the combination of hot and cold has some definite health benefits. Sometimes referred to as the Nordic Cycle, the “hot sauna cold plunge”triggers the blood vessels to constrict rapidly and therefore elevates blood pressure. The benefits of the “hot sauna cold plunge”are both physical and psychological, and immediately noticeable :

Inflammation Help

People with inflammation-related ailments can experience joint relief with the plunge technique.

Improved Blood Flow

For some, the cold immersion after a hot sauna can improve blood flow. Indeed, cold shower enthusiasts maintain that a cold shower is rejuvenating, simply because of increased blood flow.

Enhancing Pleasure

The hot/cold experience elevates heart rate, adrenaline, and the release of endorphins. This has proven to actually ease pain and lighten mood. Clearly, the after-effects will vary by individual.

Detoxifying Power

The hot and cold plunging technique has a way of triggering lymphatic circulation. This allows for body waste to be eliminated and for a “flushing” process to have a detoxifying effect on the body.

Soreness Recovery

Sauna heat is noted decrease muscle aches and soreness.  Cold can also sometimes help joint ailments.

Rejuvenates Skin

The hot sauna/cold plunge stimulates blood flow, and therefore influences skin health. Enhanced blood circulation ensures the quick closure of skin pores, keeping the skin free of germs.

It’s always important to be cautious with the hot sauna cold plunge

Needless to say, the hot/cold experience is not for everyone. For example, it’s not recommended for those who are prone to high blood pressure. In these situations, the extreme temperature change may even be shocking to the system. Additionally, pregnant women should be cautious. When it comes to the cold plunge, experts recommend a momentary plunge – anything lengthy will draw heat from the body and be detrimental. Like anything health related, the hot and cold technique should be discussed with a doctor, particularly if there are outstanding health issues.

Science-based evidence does support hot saunas and hydrotherapy

Hot saunas, cold plunging, and hydrotherapy are simply extensions of health routines that have been practiced in Finland for a thousand years. The positive health effects have been recognized by the Nordic societies for ages. In terms of scientific evidence, there are many research studies that support the health benefits, as long as safe guidelines are followed, and precautions taken. Although further research is always needed, the overall benefits are generally accepted.

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