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"The main difference is the sauna has so many additional health benefits that you don't get in another leisure product," says Mark Raisenan, general manager at Finnleo. "Customers first come in seeking it for a place to get warm or a place to relax, and they come away amazed at all the health benefits."
"Sauna use helps you sleep better, helps with pain in the joints and overall is good for relaxation," says Beatrix Von Ungern-Sternberg, owner of Scandia Manufacturing.
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While these are compelling benefits, the one that ultimately sells the most saunas is this: sweating detoxifies the body. "Most people don't realize how many heavy metals and other toxins are in our bodies, whether it be plant chemicals in our food or metals that are in animal products," Raisenan says. "They don't get out unless you sweat them out."
Here's another fact: regular sauna users are less likely to catch a common cold or flu.
"Remember when, I think about 10 years ago, they were talking about the bird flu?" Von Ungern-Sternberg says. "The government of Finland required people to use a sauna to clean their bodies to stay away from it."
Studies have shown frequent sauna use builds antibodies and white blood cell count. This is because the traditional sauna temperature, 170 degrees Fahrenheit, is hot enough to artificially induce a fever. Doing that multiple times a week is like giving your immune system a workout.
For people already suffering from a bad head cold or clogged sinuses, Raisenan recommends putting a little eucalyptus in the water before tossing it on the rocks. "You get almost instant relief," he says.
As amazing as all that is, for Von Ungern-Sternberg, who grew up around saunas, their best feature is their timelessness.
"People have been taking sauna for over 2,000 years," she says. "The Finns used to use saunas as their hospital, so if anybody got sick, they would take a sauna to help recover. If they had a fever, they would go to the sauna. They would give birth in the sauna. It's so hot that bacteria cannot live. The cleanest part of a household was the sauna."
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The biggest news about the health benefits from saunas is coming from an ongoing study at the University of Eastern Finland. The Kuopio Ishaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) Study, as it's called, has medically examined over 2,000 middle-aged men in Finland since 1984 and produced over 500 peer-reviewed academic articles. The study is meant to record trends in cardiovascular health, but some researchers found a correlation between frequent sauna use, a cultural staple in Finland, and improved health.
One such finding: people who use a sauna four to seven times a week are 50 percent less at risk for elevated blood pressure than people who use a sauna once a week.
"The sweat is the part that is the most important," Von Ungern-Sternberg says. "It is so hot in the sauna, it gives you a cardiovascular workout."
Here's another finding: People who use a sauna four to seven times a week are 66 percent less likely to get dementia than people who use a sauna once a week. This finding is the most pertinent to Raisenan, who encourages his dealers to use it when selling saunas.
"It's such a modern malady that I think everyone knows somebody pretty close to them affected by it," he says.
The KIHD Study is expected to continue into the 2020s, and more research into the correlation of frequent sauna use and improved health is expected to come out during that time.
"It's amazing when you look at how sauna is so health and wellness driven," Raisenan says. "We could talk for hours on some of the things that are coming out."
Himalayan sea salt is growing more and more commonplace; you may even have used it in your home cooking. That's because Himalayan sea salt is considered by some to be beneficial to your health.
By itself, proponents believe Himalayan sea salt improves a long list of respiratory and skin-related ailments. Combine Himalayan sea salt with a sauna and the health benefits compound.
"As a matter of fact, I believe German insurance policies now cover Himalayan sea salt therapy," says Kristen Daley, director of operations at Scandia Manufacturing.
"We're talking allergies, asthma, basic congestion . . . any respiratory and skin conditions such as eczema, flaky skin, psoriasis," Daley says. "Not only does the Himalayan sea salt itself improve these conditions, but when it's combined with heat, you're actually releasing 84 trace minerals and negative ions that are associated with healing.
"When people come into a Himalayan sea salt sauna, they can taste the salt on their lips, they can smell the salt in the air — and they're coming out of the sauna with very profound transformational experiences."
For longer than I care to admit, the design snob in me has looked down my snooty snout on portable spas, or hot tubs, depending on the preferred terminology. (For this discussion I'll use my favorite term: "spas.") By whatever label, portable vessels that contain hot water were for many years more of a clunky appliance than part of the landscape, at least to my eyes.
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We always say that pool construction tracks closely with housing starts, and historically that has always been the case. But is that still true? And are there other economic indicators that are as correlative with the state of the pool industry?
Indeed, pools have tracked with housing starts. But then, in 2011, things began to change. Starts stopped prompting pools. Moreover, two new indicators began to explain a lot of things about the floundering pool business.
Here at AQUA, we spend a lot of time discussing the in's and outs of your work life, but what about life outside of work? On our Facebook page, we asked you to tell us about the hobbies and passions you enjoy off the clock. We got a wave of responses that included everything from motorcycling to music to statue making!
Have a hobby you'd like to share? Send photos to read more
For landscape lighting designer Scott Armusewicz, Jr., it's all about discovering possibilities after the sun goes down. As lead lighting designer with Hamptons Landscape Lighting (Southampton, N.Y.), Armusewicz says he's always on the lookout for opportunities to create unique effects while also being sensitive to the client's needs.
"It's all about finding that unique piece that will give the client something special, but at the same time give them exactly what they're looking...