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What are the Different Health Benefits of Traditional and Infrared Saunas? A Quick Comparison

5 lectura mínima

What are the Different Health Benefits of Traditional and Infrared Saunas? A Quick Comparison

Saunas have long been hailed for their numerous health benefits, providing both relaxation and therapeutic effects for those who regularly indulge in the soothing heat sessions. There are two primary types of saunas: traditional and infrared, each offering their unique advantages when it comes to promoting well being. While both types provide many similar benefits, understanding the differences between them will help individuals make well-informed decisions based on their individual needs and preferences.

Traditional saunas use steam or dry heat, often generated by heated rocks, to elevate the temperature inside the room. This type of sauna originates from Nordic countries, where they have been utilized for centuries in a variety of settings such as homes, gyms, and spas. On the other hand, infrared saunas utilize infrared light to emit infrared heat directly onto the body. This innovative technology provides a more efficient method of heating the body without significantly increasing the air temperature inside the sauna cabin.

Both traditional and infrared saunas offer a range of health benefits for the users, primarily through the process of sweating, which helps detoxify the body, improve circulation, and promote relaxation. Additionally, each type of sauna provides unique benefits such as pain and inflammation reduction in the case of infrared saunas, or increased humidity in traditional saunas, which can help alleviate respiratory ailments. By exploring and comparing these various benefits, individuals can make an educated decision as to which type of sauna is best suited to their personal health goals.

Understanding Traditional and Infrared Saunas

Fundamentals of Saunas

A sauna is a small room or building where people experience a dry or wet heat session for relaxation and to promote sweating. Traditional saunas heat the air with wood-fired stoves, hot stones, or an electric heater, while infrared saunas use infrared rays to directly heat the objects and people inside the sauna. Sweating in a sauna can have numerous health benefits, but it is important to stay hydrated and avoid dehydration during the experience.

Temperature Considerations

In traditional saunas, temperatures range from 150-200°F (70-90°C), and humidity is controlled by pouring water over hot stones, creating steam. Infrared saunas typically have lower temperatures, around 115-135°F (50-60°C), which can be more tolerable for those sensitive to higher heat. The heat in an infrared sauna penetrates deeper into the body and promotes a more intense sweating experience at a lower temperature than a traditional sauna.

Types of Saunas

There are two main types of saunas: traditional and infrared. Traditional saunas can be further divided into dry and wet saunas, depending on the presence of steam. Dry saunas have no added humidity, while wet saunas involve added moisture to the air.

  1. Traditional Saunas: These saunas use a variety of heat sources such as wood, fire, or electric heaters to heat the stones and create a dry or wet heat experience. They induce sweating by raising the room temperature, and the user can control the humidity by adding water to the hot stones.
  2. Infrared Saunas: These saunas emit infrared waves that directly heat the objects and people inside the sauna. Infrared saunas typically use lower temperatures and offer a more comfortable environment for those sensitive to higher heat levels. The heat penetrates deeper into the body, promoting more intense sweating at a lower temperature than traditional saunas.

Health Benefits of Saunas

Detoxification and Circulation

Saunas offer numerous health benefits, one of which is detoxification. Spending time in a sauna promotes sweating, which is the body's natural way of flushing toxins and impurities. Both traditional and infrared saunas aid in detoxification, although infrared saunas may be more effective in promoting a deeper detox due to their ability to penetrate the skin more effectively. Improved circulation is another benefit of using a sauna. The heat in a sauna dilates blood vessels, which increases blood flow and promotes better circulation throughout the body.

Exercise and Relaxation Benefits

Saunas can help individuals achieve exercise and relaxation benefits. After a workout, spending time in a sauna can help reduce muscle soreness and aid in muscle recovery. This is because the increased blood flow from the heat helps remove lactic acid buildup in the muscles. Additionally, the heat in the sauna can help improve flexibility and mobility, making it an excellent complementary therapy for individuals engaging in physical activities.

Relaxation is another key benefit of using a sauna. The warm environment promotes relaxation by reducing stress, easing muscle tension, and calming the nervous system. This can contribute to a better night's sleep and improved overall well-being.

Skin and Beauty Advantages

Saunas can provide a range of skin and beauty advantages. The increased sweating and improved circulation from sauna use help to open and cleanse pores, resulting in healthier, clearer skin. Sauna sessions can also increase collagen production, which can improve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Regular sauna use may even help in treating certain skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Mental Health Benefits

Mental health benefits are often associated with sauna use. The relaxation and stress relief provided by saunas can help improve mood and alleviate anxiety. In addition, saunas can release endorphins, which are the body's natural "feel-good" chemicals, resulting in an overall sense of well-being. Regular sauna sessions have also been linked to improving symptoms of depression, making it a potentially valuable therapy for supporting mental health.

Traditional Sauna Benefits

Traditional sauna use research conducted in Finland shows that traditional sauna users experience improvement in cardiovascular health through reduction in blood pressure, improvement in endothelial function, reduction in inflammation, and improved arterial compliance.  The benefits are linked to better sleep, cardiorespiratory function, improved immune system health, lower risk of neurocognitive disease, and improved pain and muscle recovery after injury.

Traditional saunas, on the other hand, have demonstrated more diverse health benefits than infrared. Research suggests that they can help delay early onset of Alzheimer's disease, improve stiff arteries, and promote overall mental health.  A regular sauna practice can also provide stress relief and assist with combating depression, as the heat helps the body release endorphins, promoting relaxation and a sense of well-being.

Both types of saunas have shown potential benefits for heart health. Infrared saunas may help with high blood pressure and heart failure, while traditional saunas have been linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Although the specific mechanisms behind these benefits differ, both options can contribute to improved cardiovascular health.

Infrared Sauna Benefits

Research has linked infrared saunas with the following health benefits:

  • High blood pressure management
  • Faster muscle recoveryafter exercise
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Chronic pain easing
  • Improved mood
  • Better sleep quality
Infrared saunas may provide relief for conditions such as arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain, and fatigue. They have been shown to help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, which is particularly beneficial for those experiencing chronic pain and inflammatory conditions. In addition, infrared saunas are often considered a safe and effective treatment method for individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome.