Saunas – Types and Benefits

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The wide array of sauna health benefits is well known for quite some time now. Originally invented by the Finnish, sauna facilities have become standard equipment in gyms, sport centers and swimming pools from all over the world. If you consider turning sauna into one of your regular habits it is best to make your choice based on the types of saunas and the benefits they provide.

Types of saunas

The Finnish Sauna (traditional) – This type of sauna was originally using wood-fire as the main source of heat, but nowadays saunas are usually heated using electricity. The common denominator is a pile of rocks placed on top of the heat source. Water is splashed regularly on the hot rocks to generate steam and provide a sensation of increased heat.

Infrared saunas – Heat is produced through an infrared heater and the generated infrared radiant heat is absorbed directly into the human body, unlike the traditional saunas where the body will heat indirectly, through air or steam. The temperatures inside this type of sauna are lower than inside traditional saunas, thus infrared saunas are the perfect solution for people which do not tolerate high air temperatures.

Wet saunas (steam rooms) – These are heated only by hot steam so compared to dry saunas which have hot air and low humidity there will be a lower temperatures, but higher humidity environment.

Health benefits

First of all you should know that all kinds of saunas have some common benefits. All of them will warm your body which results in muscle relaxation and increased circulation throughout the whole body. As a result you will feel more relaxed after taking a sauna so it can also have stress reduction effects.

They also make you sweat and from this come a wide series of positive effects. Sweat opens the pores, cleanses the skin and eliminates all kinds of toxic substances accumulated in the body. Intense sweating also consumes a high amount of energy so it will burn calories (approximately 600 calories are consumed to produce 1 L of sweat!).

Other medically proven benefits: alleviates multiple skin problems such as dry skin, rashes, eczema and psoriasis; facilitates faster recovery from muscle, tendon and ligament injuries and reduces the pain from neck, back and joint pain. Saunas also have an immunity enhancing effect: when your core temperature is rising, your body “thinks” you have fever and as a result the internal organs are stimulated, boosting your immunity.

Steam rooms specific benefits: the high air humidity provided by the hot steam will have hydrating effects on your skin. The steam is also especially effective for respiratory problems such as astma, sinusitis, throat and nasal dryness as it helps clear your lungs and throat from mucous.

Dry saunas specific benefits: they enable you to sweat more, so they are more efficient for detoxification and weight-loss. From this category, infrared saunas work at lower temperatures, but penetrate deeper into your body and they are tolerated by people more than any other type of sauna.

To conclude, all types of saunas have positive health effects, but choosing the one that truly suits you must be done according to your tolerance, health issues and last but not least, personal preferences.