Hot vs. cold – the kick for your immune system

Whether it be after a sporty day of skiing, a long winter walk or as a little moment of relaxation in between – a visit to the spa or sauna does you good, especially in winter. After enjoying the warmth in the sauna, however, a jump into the cold water always follows. But what is this rollercoaster of bathing experiences all about? What effects do heat and cold have on the body? And how does the ice-cold refreshment help your immune system? Bathrobe on and let’s go!

Granatstein-Sauna im Thermal Römerbad, Kärnten, Bad Kleinkirchheim

What’s the reason behind trips to the sauna?

A winter without a visit to the sauna? Difficult to imagine. However, the Finnish export hit is not only popular for its relaxing effect on the body and mind. Regular visits to the steam bath also have a number of health-promoting effects:


  1. Goodbye sore muscles. A trip to the sauna promotes blood circulation and helps your muscles to regenerate. This prevents strains and makes sore muscles disappear. So you can enjoy the next day of skiing.
  2. Take a deep breath! The mucous membranes also receive better blood circulation in the heat. In combination with essential oils, the sauna steam lets you breathe more freely and trains your respiratory organs in the long term.
  3. Fit and happy. A trip to the sauna increases the serotonin level in the brain. This not only makes you happy, but also helps you fall asleep quicker and sleep better through the night. You’ll feel more rested and balanced in the long term.
  4. Happy skin. In the heat, the blood vessels dilate and your skin is better supplied with nutrients. The second you jump into the cold shower, the vessels constrict again. In the long term, this change trains the elasticity of the skin and makes it look younger and fresher. Dry skin in particular benefits from the high level of humidity in the sauna. This reduces dehydration, prevents deficiency symptoms and strengthens the skin’s natural protective barrier.
  5. Caught a cold? Not me. In the sauna, the body produces more white blood cells, which play a decisive role in the defence against pathogens. This means taking regular saunas promote the body’s own defences and strengthen the immune system.

Important: But if you’ve already caught the cold, then the sauna is an absolute no-go! Because the abrupt change between hot and cold means even more stress for the already weakened body. It could even make your cold worse.


It’s all in the mix-up.

Whether in the hot Finnish sauna, in the soothing herbal sauna or in the Roman steam bath – variety is also a must during the trip to the sauna. That’s why in the Thermal Römerbad you can relax in 13 various saunas. For the perfect sauna experience, however, there are still a few points to consider:


Heating up. Have you made yourself comfortable in one of the saunas? Be sure to keep an eye on the time. Regular saunas are healthy, but don’t overdo it. Ideally, you should treat yourself to three 12-minute sauna sessions two to three times a week.

Cooling down. After you’ve completed your time in the heat, ice-cold refreshment is waiting for you. Because it’s only through the mix-up between hot and cold that the health-promoting effects unfold in the body. So, away you go to the cold shower.

Refuelling. The body loses a lot of fluid when it sweats. To quench your thirst after the sauna, it’s best to drink mineral water, tea or diluted fruit juice.

By the way, you can find out more tips on the perfect sauna session from our sauna master Almo. It’s worth having a look!


Ice cold for a strong immune system.

So it’s actually the cold that makes a visit to the sauna so effective and beneficial to your health. But what if we simply leave out the heat? Below we’ll show you three ways to give your immune system the right kick without breaking a sweat.


1. Kneipp water treading therapy.

Another option for cold refreshment is what’s known as ‘kneipping’ or treading water in a cold pool. It supplies your whole body with fresh, oxygen-rich blood, stimulates the circulation and strengthens the immune system. But Kneipp therapy can also work wonders for migraines, sleep problems, weather sensitivity and varicose veins.


How to: Get into the water slowly, which is about 10° C. Just like a stork, alternately pull one leg completely out of the water and bend the tip of the foot downwards. Repeat this movement for a maximum of 30 seconds. If the cold stimulus becomes too intense, slowly get out of the water again. Afterwards, you’ll be nice and warm again as you comfortably walk ashore.

2. Alternating showers.

Sounds old-fashioned, but it’s not. The alternation of warm and cold water on the skin causes the blood vessels in the body to dilate and constrict. This promotes blood circulation, lowers blood pressure and strengthens the immune system. The intense experience for the body and the empowering feeling of happiness you get after the shower also lifts your mood. So alternating showers are a real insider tip and can be used both at the Thermal Römerbad and in everyday life at home.

3. Ice, ice, Baby.

Would you like to add one more layer on top? Then try ice bathing. It takes a good deal of selfdetermination to get into the ice-cold water. But the health benefits for body and mind are hard to beat. And ice bathing is also a perfect way to cool down after a sauna session.


Caution: Ice bathing is considered an extreme sport and can be quite dangerous if not done properly. You don’t have any experience of being in ice-cold water? No problem, we’ve summarised the most important rules for ice bathing for you below:


  • Never jump in at the deep end, but enter slowly and carefully.
  • Never bathe alone. If an emergency occurs, someone can rush to help you.
  • Stay in the water for only a few seconds at the start. Your body needs time to get used to the extraordinary strain.
  • We tend to breathe frantically in cold water. For this reason, you should breathe in and out consciously and slowly.
  • To minimise the risk of hypothermia, wrap up warm and move as soon as you get out of the water.
  • After the ice bath, it’s time to rest.
  • Listen to your body and don’t take on too much.


Important: If you have health problems or circulatory problems, you should never try ice bathing without consulting a doctor.

Now you’re definitely ready for a visit to the Thermal Römerbad, right? Especially after a sporty day on the slopes in the skiing area Bad Kleinkirchheim, a little relaxation is especially beneficial. With the Ski-Therme-Superkombi you’ll get nice and warm up to your ears as well as ice-cold refreshment in equal measure. We’re looking forward to your next visit.