2021 is finally settling in; and with every change of year, we also think of changing some of our ways! What a great opportunity to review our lifestyle and integrate new practices that will contribute to improving our daily routine and take better care of ourselves. With every passing year, more our body ages, more it needs care and attention in order to ensure it continues to function properly. Notably, for those over sixty, who are more at risk for heart disease and cardiovascular accidents. It is therefore essential that we pay closer attention and make extra efforts to stay in shape and lower external risk factors such as stress.
It’s a well-known fact that visiting a spa has several beneficial effects for both the body and the mind. But did you know that it can also contribute to improving our overall health? According to many specialists, the thermal experience such as the one offered at BALNEA, contributes to a good health, both mentally and physically. We met with three such specialists, each with their own field of expertise, in order to learn more about all the advantages of the practice.
The BALNEA Thermal Experience
Surely you already know the routine: heat, cold, rest. The BALNEA thermal experience is based on the principle that proposes subjecting the body to a source of heat to stimulate sweating, for example, in a sauna or a hot tub, followed by an immersion in ice-cold water to tighten the skin’s pores and tone the body. Finally, to complete the ritual, rest, for about 15 minutes, simply relax; then, the sequence is repeated. This ritual has many beneficial effects on the body and the mind; let’s see what our experts have to say.
Benefits for the Heart
Several research projects have been carried out studying the effects of applying heat to the body in order to determine how the thermal experience can contribute to our general health. Dr. Daniel Gagnon, researcher at the Montreal Heart Institute, highlights the following elements: “Using a sauna regularly requires physiological adaptations that could lower the risk of developing a cardiovascular disease or increase the overall health of people suffering from a cardiovascular disease.” Let’s not forget that cardiovascular accidents (strokes) constitute the number one cause of death in the world! Therefore, by integrating a thermal ritual routine which will notably increase your heart rate and your blood pressure, could indeed contribute to preventing cardiovascular diseases.
Benefits for the Body
The human body is an extremely complex, high-performing machine. Lisa-Marie Farley, osteopath by profession, explains that all the different parts of our body are interrelated and that fluids, like blood for example, irrigate its deepest tissues. She believes that the thermal experience is an excellent way to stimulate these fluids. Notably, it allows the nervous system to relax, it helps to reduce inflammation and offers a sensation of wellness, even euphoria. Many more positive effects have been noted and associated with the regular use of thermal installations. These include:
• Improving the functioning of the digestive system
• Strengthening the immune system
• Stimulating cell regeneration
• Optimizing the functioning of the neuromuscular system
• Balancing the neuro-hormonal system
Farley also puts forward the idea that the thermal experience works somewhat like an exposure to extreme temperatures: “a healthy body is able to adapt to different forms of stress to which it is submitted. Exposing our body to extreme temperatures strengthens its different adaptive and self-regulatory processes, and by doing so, allows us to better adapt to life’s daily stresses,” she explains. Dr. Daniel Gagnon picks up this same line of thought by reminding us that older people who are especially at risk during extreme weather conditions, for example during heat waves. Taking this into account, the notion of climate adaptation capacity becomes very pertinent here.
Benefits for the Mind
Of course, we also need to consider our mental health! The simple fact of slipping inside a warm bath right away brings about a feeling of wellbeing, but in fact a much more complex reaction is at work here! Dr. Joe Flanders, psychologist and founder of Clinique Mindspace, examines this question as well. For him, our way of life today is one which involves a lot of overstimulation and saturation of information, which leads many among us to suffer from higher levels of anxiety. He states that “our mind needs to take a break from this chronic overstimulation, to rest and renew its energy in order to connect with the deeper and more subtle dimensions of our being, so we can maintain a balance in our resilience when we’re confronted by challenges.” Do you see a pattern emerging here? The theme of conditioning seems to appear on all three specialists’ charts, suggesting, in fact, that a regular practice of the thermal experience helps our body and our mind to adapt to challenges, to better prepare ourselves to overcome these.
We were able to observe this blissful state Flanders describes in his approach to reach the “deeper dimensions of our being,” through a very simple experiment: the #Effet BALNEA. The exercise aimed at taking pictures of participants before and after having completed the thermal experience. The results spoke for themselves: simply by looking at the photos, we could see a considerable change in the faces of the candidates who volunteered for the experiment. All three specialists agreed that the participants, no matter their age, presented much more peaceful, calmer faces with relaxed facial muscles.
In light of what our specialists, Dr. Daniel Gagnon, Dr. Joe Flanders and osteopath Lisa-Marie Farley, have presented us with, we can conclude that frequent exposures to contrasting and extreme temperatures, such as BALNEA’s thermal experience, are very beneficial to your health. This is especially true for older people who need to stimulate their heart more in order to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
In addition to contributing to changes in the body and mind, which in turn promotes a better overall health, BALNEA offers its thermal experience within a breathtaking setting, in the heart of nature, inspiring awe and tranquility. With the reserve’s outdoor hot tubs, surrounded by nature and its seemingly endless landscapes, saunas offering unequalled views, BALNEA is without a doubt the perfect venue for relaxation and for recovering our youthful energy! Come and try the thermal experience, indeed to relax, but also for your health and wellbeing!
Sources: Daniel Gagnon : https://recherche.umontreal.ca/nos-chercheurs/repertoire-des-professeurs/chercheur/is/in22433/ Liste complète des publications : https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=daniel+gagnon Publications représentatives: Barry H, Chaseling GK, Moreault S, Sauvageau C, Behzadi P, Gravel H, Ravanelli N & Gagnon D. (2020). Improved neural control of body temperature following heat acclimation in humans. J Physiol 598, 1223-1234. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32011734 Gravel H, Coombs GB, Behzadi P, Marcoux-Clément V, Barry H, Juneau M, Nigam A & Gagnon D. (2019). Acute effect of Finnish sauna bathing on brachial artery flow-mediated dilation and reactive hyperemia in healthy middle-aged and older adults. Physiol Rep 7, e14166. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31293098 Gagnon D & Crandall CG. (2018). Sweating as a heat loss thermoeffector. Handbook of clinical neurology 156, 211-232. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30454591 Gagnon D, Crandall CG (2017). Electric fan use during heat waves: Turn off for the elderly? Temperature 4, 104-106, 2017. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28680921 Gagnon D, Romero SA, Cramer MN, Jay O, Crandall CG (2016). Cardiac and Thermal Strain of Elderly Adults Exposed to Extreme Heat and Humidity With and Without Electric Fan Use. JAMA. 316: 989-91. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27599335 Marc Cohen, Turning up the heat on COVID-19 : heat as a therapeutic intervention : https://f1000research.com/articles/9-292/v2
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