What Is a Sauna? The Ultimate Infrared Sauna Guide
If you have recently spent any time in a fitness center or had a day at the spa, you’ll be well aware that saunas are growing in popularity.
It seems as though every gym and relaxation center has one, and there’s a swelling market for personal saunas in homes.
But why the sudden interest in saunas? What’s the purpose of a sauna? And why would people pay good money to get hot, sweaty, and become seemingly miserable in a heated room?
Today, we hope to answer those questions, and more!
Read on to learn more about saunas and their benefits and how infrared saunas differ from their steam room counterparts.
Ok, So What Is a Sauna?
Typically, a sauna is a small, hot room. Temperatures in a sauna can range from 150°F/65°C to 195°F/90°C.
When you step inside the sauna room, you will find it smells like you’re in the woods. This is in large part due to the unpainted interior, which is usually made from cedar wood.
Some sauna rooms are large enough to accommodate several people at once, while others are designed for just one person.
There are different styles of sauna rooms as well. Saunas decked out in the Turkish style use moisture and steam as part of the experience, whereas Finnish-style saunas use dry heat.
To achieve the steam and moisture found in Turkish saunas, you’ll see rocks in the room. When water is poured over these hot rocks, steam is created. This allows for a different experience in the sauna.
Regardless of the type of sauna you’re using, one thing remains constant: the heat!
What Is The Purpose of A Sauna?
Now you know a sauna is a hot room, but you still might not understand why people are clamoring to get in.
Well, there are plenty of proven benefits to using saunas. There have been tons of studies carried out to scientifically show there are many improvements to physical and mental health that can be achieved by using a sauna.
Here are some of those benefits you can expect to get if you spend time in the sauna.
In the heat of the sauna, you will likely sweat a lot, and this is an excellent thing. One of the purposes of sweating is for your body to excrete the junk that’s accumulated inside. Toxins including lead, arsenic, and cadmium can build up in your skin, and when you sweat profusely in the sauna, you can help rid your body of these pollutants.
As your temperature rises while you’re sitting in the sauna, your heart will begin to beat faster, resulting in the widening of your blood vessels. When this happens, your blood will be able to better circulate throughout your body.
Improved circulation can help you in other ways, too. It can serve to reduce muscle soreness after a workout, and it can improve the mobility in your joints. Better circulation can also help decrease the pain associated with arthritis while increasing mobility at the same time.
Along with better circulation, sauna time can keep your heart healthy. A 20-year study found people who used a sauna at least once a week were less likely to experience cardiac disease or cardiac-related death.
You know that when you use a sauna, your heart rate increases and your circulation is improved, resulting in a healthier heart. For many people, using a sauna can be compared to participating in moderate exercise (though it should never replace exercise).
Saunas are an excellent way to relax and unwind, both of which lead to stress relief. When you step into a sauna and take your seat on the bench, you are making a conscious choice to just be for a little while. There are no distractions, and you can simply relax.
While your heart rate is increasing, your body will release endorphins. Endorphins are the chemicals that make your brain feel good, which will likely result in a better mood and less stress.
While sitting in a sauna sweating won’t necessarily make you drop a few pounds, it can undoubtedly be beneficial in this endeavor. How so?
Well, an indirect weight loss benefit is derived from the increased heart rate you will experience in the sauna. While you’re relaxing, your beating heart will be burning calories, and your metabolism will kick into overdrive.
Time spent in the sauna can never replace a healthy diet and exercise regimen, but it can help keep you healthy!
We’ve discussed the traditional wet and dry saunas, but there’s another type of sauna as well. This type has become increasingly popular in recent years.
Infrared saunas are unique because they don’t use steam. While they do use heat to provide the experience, this doesn’t come from wood or electricity as you’ll find in many dry saunas.
Instead, the heat in infrared saunas comes from infrared light bulbs. The light emitted from the bulbs can increase the benefits received from a sauna.
Infrared bulbs emit electromagnetic radiation that heats your body without heating all the air around you. The rays of light from the infrared bulbs can also penetrate your skin where the heat and steam in a traditional sauna cannot.
When it comes to infrared saunas, there are three different spectrums of light. There are near, far and middle degrees of light and they each provide various benefits to you. While this light is warm, it’s not anywhere near as hot as a traditional sauna.
Infrared saunas have proven to be beneficial in addressing a myriad of physical and mental health issues, including:
- Relieving sore muscles;
- Improving joint pain;
- Aiding better sleep;
- Providing relaxation;
- Reducing anxiety and depression;
- Helping to clear skin;
- Tightening skin;
- Boosting circulation; and
- Helping with chronic fatigue.
Whether you use a traditional or infrared sauna, be sure you are fully hydrated. Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about any concerns you might have.