Strong immune system thanks to sauna | Küng Wellness
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Strengthen the immune system

A sauna or steam bath protects and strengthens the immune system. In an interview, Dr. Erat from the Hirslanden Group explains the health-promoting effects of regular wellness walks and reveals her tips for greater well-being.

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Time out for mind and body

Strengthen the immune system

A time-out in a wellness or feel-good bath is a treat for body, mind and soul. However, the regular sweat bath not only contributes to relaxation, but also arms our immune system against viruses and pathogens. More and more people are enjoying saunas and steam baths not only in hotels and public wellness facilities, but are opting for wellness in their own four walls.

As a Finn, Dr Anna Erat, chief physician of the Check-Up Zentrum Hirslanden Zurich, was, so to speak, born into the sauna culture. In this interview, she explains what a sauna or steam bath can do for our immune system and our health. She also reveals the simple means we can use to strengthen and protect our immune system.

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Going to the bio-sauna or steam bath moistens the respiratory tract.

What is their effect in combating pathogens?

Humidification of the respiratory tract is very important in winter as well as in summer. However, the feeling of thirst is dampened by the cold in winter, so we need to think more actively about hydration in autumn and winter. Steam baths also help to moisten the respiratory tract. Regularity is important here - just as with sport and fitness. For the effect to be lasting, the body must be exercised regularly. This is also the case with steam baths and saunas.

What are sensible measures to strengthen the defence in view of the upcoming cold season?

In our generation, we have never been so threatened and confronted with a virus as with Corona/SARS-CoV2 (the causative agent of COVID-19). Not only in terms of health but also socially and economically. However, there are viruses with which we are constantly or at least annually confronted and which affect our respiratory tract, such as the influenza viruses, parainfluenza viruses and rhinoviruses as well as other coronaviruses. Therefore, it is important that we strengthen our immune system in view of the upcoming cold season, be it through regular visits to saunas, steam baths and the like or through very simple, everyday measures.

On the one hand, sleep is of course important, preferably at least 7 hours a day. Secondly, nutrition, zinc and antioxidants such as vitamin C - which neutralise free radicals - play a major role. Vegetables, berries and fruits are therefore very healthy and contribute a lot to a healthy immune system. People who eat a vegetarian and vegan diet must also make sure that they take enough protein, vitamin B12 and above all vitamin D.

Healthy mucous membranes are very important in fighting respiratory infections. The mucous membranes in the nasopharynx are the first and probably most important components of the immune system in the cold season.

interaction of heat and cooling

  1. The change from hot to cold stimulates the circulation - the blood vessels dilate and contract, the blood flow is stimulated and the entire body is supplied with more oxygen. As the body temperature rises, one is in a fever-like state: the body reacts accordingly and stimulates the defences.
  2. According to a Finnish study, regular sauna use is said to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death, fatal heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
  3. Sauna after sports is said to stimulate muscle regeneration and thus prevent muscle soreness.
  4. The stimulated blood circulation is also said to improve the skin's appearance by supplying the skin with nutrients.
  5. In the sauna, the muscles relax - asthma sufferers also benefit from this. The cramped respiratory muscles also relax and allow more air into the lungs.

Main differences between steam bath and sauna

The humidity is higher. The temperatures in the sauna are very high and the air is drier, especially in saunas with electric heating. This is why the water infusion is so important. In contrast to the hot-dry Finnish sauna, the bio-sauna invites you to sweat gently with temperatures between 40 and 60 degrees Celsius and humidity between 45 and 60 percent.

Tips for the cold season

  1. Cold bath

    If a cold is on the way, a warming cold bath is a good tip. The water should not be too hot (maximum 39 degrees, 20 minutes bath time) and can be enriched with essential oils such as eucalyptus oil, spruce needle oil or thyme oil. People at risk of allergies, people with asthma and children should refrain from adding oils, this applies in particular to menthol.

  2. Rest and recreation

    During a cold, the body is mainly busy getting rid of the pathogens. It needs enough energy to do this. Therefore, a good cold tip is to ensure relaxation, sufficient sleep and little stress. Physical exertion and sport should be avoided during a cold.

  3. Fresh air

    Another useful tip if you have a cold: air out your living space regularly to replace stale air containing viruses with fresh air. However, draughts should be avoided when you or the sick person are in the room.

  4. Blow your nose properly

    With heart, wood and mind, we manufacture your sauna for you in our wellness workshops in Altendorf SZ and Hochdorf LU. Would you like to join us when we create your unique sauna? Included in the workshop visit.

  5. Hot phase

    Snifflers should be careful not to blow their nose too vigorously. Otherwise the pathogens can enter the sinuses and cause inflammation (sinusitis). When blowing your nose, always hold one nostril closed and blow the other. The safest way is to just wipe your nose and not blow at all.

  6. Keep warm

    If you have a sore throat, wear a cloth or scarf around your neck to keep it warm. Cold feet can be warmed up with a hot water bottle (caution: not if you have a fever). If the feet are cold, this leads to poorer blood circulation throughout the body, especially in the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. This makes it easier for cold viruses to spread.

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Specialist for internal medicine and sports medicine

Dr. med. Dr. phil. Anna Margareta Erat

Since 2019 Chief Physician of the Check-Up Centre Hirslanden Zurich. In terms of sports medicine, Dr Erat acts as Chief Medical Officer at national and international events such as Art on Ice or the Ice Hockey World Championships and has been a team doctor for the national team / Swiss Ice Hockey Federation for several years. In addition to her medical training, Dr Erat also holds a doctorate in epidemiology and health management.

Check-Up Zentrum Hirslanden

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