Did you know, that Finland is king when it comes to Sauna culture? Also did you know that the average Finnish life expectancy is 81.1 years? Let me tell you, that this is no coincidence. Going to a sauna at least one time per week lowers the risk of death from cardiovascular diseases by 50%. This is only one of the many health benefits it offers. If you are interested in learning more on the subject than don`t stop reading!
Inside your home the type of sauna you are most probably going to install will fall into one of these categories: dry, wet or infrared.
Dry saunas usually run at a temperature of 75- 110°C/ 167- 230°F depending on the liking of the user. The heater inside the sauna can be wood fired for all the traditional folks like myself out there. In some more rare cases gas powered heaters are used, which is actually the most environmentally friendly version of them. Last, but not least electric, which is most probably going to be the favored version amongst my readers. Necessary accessories for any dry sauna are the bucket and ladle, sand glass, thermometer and hygrometer. The ideal humidity is between 5-10%. Of course this level rises briefly when water is pored on the hot rocks, creating water vapors.
The first and most obvious health benefit of sessions in a dry sauna, or in any sauna for that matter is that it induces sweating. In our modern day society we consider sweat mostly as a hassle during our day- to- day lives often forgetting its true functions. It cools us when needed but at the same time it rids our body of toxic waste products. Furthermore, it lowers blood pressure and at the same time improves blood flow along with providing a gentle workout for your heart. While you are getting this physical boost, it also helps relieve stress by putting you in a nice calm environment. Here you can meditate or just simply lay back for a while and relax.
Beginners should start their sauna sessions with 10 minutes spent inside and a cold shower between. After getting used to it, the sessions can be extended to about 15 minutes. Remember it is not a competition if you stat to feel uncomfortable at any point, just leave!
A wet sauna or steam room has a much lower temperature, at around 41°C and over. The sensation of it being as hot as a dry sauna comes from the humidity levels in the air that are around 100%. This prevents your sweat from evaporating. Wet saunas require a steam generator to function instead of a heater. They create steam by running an electric current through a resistive element with water passing through it, building up temperature and pressure. The water enters from the intake and exits as steam on the other side.
The benefits of the wet sauna or steam room start the same as a dry sauna, but it also helps relax the muscles after a workout or trauma accelerating their recovery. Arthritis and fibromyalgia symptoms can be reduced by doing regular sessions in a wet sauna as well. It also offers a nice relief for people struggling with blocked sinuses. Keep in mind it is not a good idea to go to a sauna when you already have a fever!
If it is your first time in a wet sauna, you should pay attention to your body on how long to stay inside. You should not stay more, than 10 minutes in any case. Afterwards take a cool shower and if you are up for it go back in for another 5- 10 minutes. After getting used to it you can spend 20- 30 minutes inside per session. Alternately you can cool yourself sitting inside as well as most wet saunas will have a cold water outlet.
Infrared sauna is less hot and humid as the other two versions mentioned before. This is because in the infrasauna the heat gets absorbed by our bodies directly from the IR and visible wavelengths, raising our core temperature. Infrared wavelengths can penetrate our body, so the heat build- up does not come just from the outside.
An advantage of far infrared saunas is that you can start bathing immediately as you turn it on, unlike a regular dry sauna, which may take 40-50 minutes to get to temperature.
If you liked this article you can also check out my post on wooden hot tubs.
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