In today’s economic and work environment taking care of your physical and mental health is ever more important. Exercise and healthy lifestyle in general include different kinds of things. But the one single part often missing is relaxation. For me nothing else works as well as a Sauna does. Sauna owners overall say that a Traditional (Finnish type) Sauna offers absolutely the best way to wind down from the stress, tension and noise of everyday life.

I just returned from a trip to my home country, Finland. We own an old country home over there, and it has, of course, a separate sauna building with a wood burning stove. Although it was cold and dark over there (early December being maybe the worst time to travel to Finland), I was really looking forward to it. Heating up the sauna, and bathing in the evenings just by myself, with a complete darkness and quietness outside wore off the jet lag just like that, and I slept better than I ever had. I stayed in our place for three days, and had a sauna bath four times… Not so many people can build a wood burning sauna here in the US, but you can also get a very similar experience in a well designed and built sauna with an electric heater.

Besides relaxation, saunas actually do offer real health benefits, too. Bathing in a proper traditional sauna has among others, these health benefits:

Helps to remove toxins
Cleanses your skin
Soothes aches and pains in muscles and joints
Improves cardiovascular performance
Relieves congestion
Burns calories.

These probably are more important than relaxation for most of the people, but for a Finn, sauna means relaxation and belongs to our way of life. A list of corresponding medical studies can be found at the Finnish Sauna Society web site at http://www.sauna.fi/80.html

Saunas are actually one of the fastest growing amenities being added to the home today as the aging population continues to focus on bringing wellness into their lifestyle. Adding a Sauna to a home is also another opportunity to add value to the home design that makes it a step above others in the market place. A few things to consider when choosing a sauna:

  • Sauna type; do you already have a certain (framed) space for a custom-made sauna,
    or is a free-standing unit a better choice for you?
  • Do you maybe have an unused separate building, or would you consider to build one? Could you use a pool-side or deck sauna?
  • The size; how many people are going to use it at the same time? If you prefer to lay down on the (top) bench, then you need at least one longish bench set.
  • Choice of wood; do you prefer the traditional cedar with its aroma? Please note that cedar boards tend to turn darker during the years. European Alder might be a better choice.
  • Floor-plan; if you can, plan to have the door (always opens outwards) on a longer wall. This will optimize the heater location, and the circulation of the air in the room.
  • Can you include a window in your sauna? It is a very good thing to have.
    Drain is not required, but if you have it, it is an advantage.

Modern design and technology can make the sauna one of the most stunning additions to a home. The Finnish sauna…where health and relaxation meet.

Kalevi Ruuska kalevi@optonline.net

About the Author: James Crisp

James M. Crisp has been an architect for well over 30 years. His architectural firm, Crisp Architects, designs projects throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. In April of 2007, Taunton Press published 'On the Porch' by James M. Crisp and Sandra Mahoney.

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