Sauna bathing for older people


Sauna bathing for older people

With increasing professionalization, target group concentration and niche orientation in the SPA and wellness sector, the question also increasingly arises as to whether sauna bathing is advisable for older people and if there is an upper age limit.

Is sauna bathing also suitable for older people?

Anyone who can go to the sauna on their own can use it, is the simple answer that Finland, the motherland of sauna culture, has to this question. There, it has long been common for even the elderly to use the sauna; it is not uncommon for people over 80 to go to the sauna once or several times a week.

Because the benefits of this habit are considerable even for seniors. That is why it is nothing special to find numerous people over 70 in public sauna baths. This is also due to the trend that people today are getting older and are still more active, more mobile and fitter than they used to be, even at an advanced age. This means that their leisure time behavior is also changing, which in turn brings an improvement in the general conditions.

In addition to the health benefits, which will be discussed in more detail below and which are particularly significant for older people, aspects such as sociability, entertainment, a change from everyday life and a certain habit are in the foreground.

Health benefits for older people

The positive influence of regular saunas can be seen most easily in the skin. With age, the skin begins to regress due to water depletion in the tissue and the resulting reduced cell pressure. It appears wrinkled, crinkled and often very dry. The heat during the sauna process produces an increase in blood flow to the skin, the high humidity produces extensive moisturizing and the increase in temperature in the skin organ stimulates the metabolism. Therefore, the sauna visit has a very beneficial effect on the formation of new cells, so sauna bathing can be considered as an anti-aging measure for the skin, because it gets a better elasticity.

During sauna bathing, the sweat glands are exercised and even seniors produce the usual amount of 30-40g of sweat per minute. Thus, it is not possible to speak of a reduced sweating activity, which often occurs in older people. In addition, heavy sweating has a positive effect on detoxification and prevents the resulting age-related restriction of mobility.

A training of the blood vessels in the skin organ can provide for the fact that circulatory disorder and the associated load are at least alleviated. It also leads to so-called inurement and infection prevention in sauna users of all ages through increased production of immune defense substances. This is particularly effective for older people, as they tend to be more susceptible to infections. Typical diseases of old age such as rheumatism and joint complaints can also be favorably influenced by sauna sessions.

The thermal stimuli in the sauna activate the vegetative nervous system and trigger relaxation and a feeling of refreshment even in older people. Furthermore, a sauna session can have positive psychological effects on the emotional state.

When should you be careful?

As shown above, sauna bathing can have a supportive and positive effect on the quality of life of older people. However, seniors in particular should refrain from sauna bathing if they have certain illnesses – acute or chronic.

Just like young people, seniors should not visit a sauna if they suffer from bronchitis or pneumonia. This also applies to heart disease, vascular and venous disorders, and high blood pressure. In these cases, sauna sessions should at least be discussed with a doctor in advance. In general, the risk of undiagnosed diseases is greater in people over 70 than in younger people, and the heart often no longer offers the expected performance, so a visit to the doctor is always recommended. Once the doctor has given the go-ahead, sauna users of all ages can rely on their feelings: if they experience inner restlessness, feel sick or dizzy, or if their pulse rate is elevated, they should not check their watch but leave the sauna immediately.

Elderly people are recommended to use rather the lower benches in the sauna, because the heat there is not as great and the contrast with the plunge pool is not as strong.

Since old age results in reduced secretion of sebum, seniors should care for their entire body with a nutrient-rich skin lotion directly after sauna bathing.

An important target group in economic terms

Older people are important customers for sauna operators, as more and more customers are over 50 years old. The average age in saunas is roughly the same as in society. Surveys have shown that older people also visit saunas much more regularly than younger people. This is partly because they use sauna bathing for communication and socializing, and partly because scheduling pressure is lower and planning is often simpler in this age group.

80% of sauna-goers over 50 years of age said they visit the sauna once a week, while only 35% of those under 30 years of age do so regularly. Seniors are also ahead in terms of year-round visits, with 76% of them stating that they visit a sauna throughout the year. With the under 30-year olds only 57% could be determined for this.

Many saunas have already reacted to these survey results and offer special senior citizen times, in which this important target group receives admission at special prices. Often then even in the attached catering trade senior-fair meals are offered to favorable conditions.

Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to exactly determine the consumer behavior of the older generation, since this differs strikingly from that of younger people. Sauna operators can thus save themselves the mistake of putting seniors in a consumer box.


List of sources:

Bericht „SAUNA & BÄDERPRAXIS 3/2013“: Saunabaden im Alter: Alle Beteiligten profitieren