Guest contribution by Lori Longoria
We all love to relax and unwind. Some of us like to spend time with friends or go kite surfing, while others like to cuddle up with a good book in hand. Others though, love to spend time in saunas. Nothing is more invigorating than a day spent in the sauna.
Saunas have great benefits to one’s health. Studies have shown that the average person would lose a pint of sweat during a brief session in the sauna. When this happens, heart rate increases to about 30% of its usual cycle and as the heart rate increases, the body starts to react in a healthy way that tends to benefit one’s wellbeing.
All these effects though depend on the kind of sauna that one will be using. In general, saunas fall into four categories, steam/smoke sauna (traditional), portable sauna, electrically heated sauna and the far-infrared sauna.
Different types of saunas
1. Portable saunas
This type of sauna has become popular to use at home, but its health benefits have remained the same. This makes it easier to have your own personal sauna that you can keep anywhere in your home or apartment and use it whenever you see fit. Since this sauna is portable, it tends to be lightweight, easily foldable, easy to carry and provides a much more affordable way to experience its effects of a sauna. Since it is affordable you can use it as often as you wish and from the comfort of your home, without having to leave the house.
2. Wood burning saunas (traditional)
Wood burning saunas do just that, they burn wood in order to generate heat. This is done by heating the sauna rocks which in turn heat the room and you create steam (you can also add a few drops of your favorit essential oil) by pouring water on heated rocks. Most of the stove used in woodburning saunas are usually heated stoves. Wood burning saunas can generate high temperatures and this temperature can be controlled by adjusting the amount of wood within the heated stove.
3. Smoke sauna (traditional)
This is a rare kind of sauna, it is generally a big wood burning stove that does not have a chimney. The heater in the stove consists of rocks and before it is ready for use, it is heated for several hours. The rocks are heated by the smoking wood, which in turn produces smoke that heats up the sauna room. Once heating is completed, and the flame has diminished, the room becomes ventilated and is ready for use.
4. Electrically heated sauna
Majority of sauna today are electrically heated and as the name suggests use electric heaters. Heaters are usually mounted on the wall and offer a great sauna experience since they are easy to use, stylish, effective, efficient and safe. They are usually controlled by a remote and have a display unit for time and temperature.
5. Far-infrared sauna
This is the new age type of sauna. Far-infrared saunas do not offer steamy sauna experience and instead, they offer a radiant heat experience. In this type of sauna, water is not used but instead heat emitters or elements focus heat directly to a person’s body. The best definition of this kind of sauna is “heat therapy room”. It is best used before or after sporting activities.
Health benefits of saunas
1. Improved blood circulation
As stated earlier, time spent in a sauna will increase heartbeat per cycle which in turn will increase blood circulation. With increased blood flow, blood vessels tend to expand, resulting in lower blood pressure. Increased blood flow also means that the brain receives more energy from nutrients and oxygen (as stated earlier). Increase energy to the brain leads to increased brain capacity i.e an increase in cognitive abilities. A recent study in the journal age and aging stated that men who used saunas a couple of times a week had less chance of getting Alzheimers and dementia.
2. Respiratory relief
It is recommended that one should spend some time in a sauna especially after suffering from respiratory infections. A sauna can aid those suffering from plugged sinuses, chest congestion or bronchitis. Inhaling the steam from the heated sauna stones greatly improves a person’s condition. It can be a responsive measure after getting sick.
3. Stress relief
Stress can be relieved after a couple of sessions in the sauna, due to the release of endorphins. We usually get a surge of endorphins after a workout. These are usually the hormones that are responsible for our feeling of euphoria. Many sauna users have claimed that spending regular time in the sauna, enables them to overcome insomnia and are able to sleep better at night due to less stress.
4. Enhanced immune system
When a person spends time in the sauna, their body is tricked into think that they may have a fever. Once this happens, a person’s immune system starts producing increased levels of white blood cells due to an increase in body temperature. Therefore a person has less chance of getting flu.
5. Healthy skin tone
Spending time in the sauna makes a person sweat. Sweat releases deadly toxins which would otherwise hurt a person’s valuable organs. One of these organs is skin. Time in the sauna also improves skin elasticity, relaxes facial tension, rinses bacteria and removes dead cells. Leaving a person looking young, soft and moist.
These are just some examples of the benefits of saunas. They are many different kinds of saunas depending on a person’s preference. Each sauna also has their own advantages, for example, most saunas offer social interactions; apart from the portable sauna so to speak. One thing is for sure; saunas offer a place for people to meet, interact, and network.
A place where people can share ideas and even discuss business. On the other hand, for some people, saunas are a place of solitude, where they come to get away from the world; while others it is a way of relaxing after a long day of work or exercise. No matter what a person’s preference might be saunas are a great place to spend time in.