Friday, February 20, 2009

Sauna and Steam

Sauna, Steam, and The Benefits

Even though they’re both basically hot baths, a sauna uses dry heat and a steam room uses moist heat. Saunas have very low humidity, which means they can be much hotter than steam rooms. They're usually between 80°C and 100°C, which is perfectly safe because they use dry heat. A steam room is usually about 40°C. If the steam room was any hotter than that it could scald your skin! That would probably ruin what should be a relaxing and pleasurable experience, you think?

Sauna and Steam Room Heat and Construction

Saunas and steam rooms are constructed with different materials because of their heating methods.

Traditional saunas are heated with stones placed on a heater - usually an
electric or wood-burning heater. Steam is produced if you pour water over the stones. This raises the temperature in the sauna by several degrees, but the steam quickly dissipates. Far infrared saunas use infrared heaters.

Steam rooms are heated with a
steam generator. Steam is fed into an almost airtight room where it builds up to create a humidity level around 100%.

Saunas are usually made of wood and include wooden benches to sit on (small portable "saunas" are an exception).

Steam rooms need to be designed to contain the moisture created by the steam. A material like ceramic tile is often used. Also, steam rooms are built with a slanted ceiling most of the time to prevent the steam buildup from dripping onto the bathers.

Sauna Benefits

According to many health professionals, sauna benefits include...a strengthened immune system

• improved blood circulation

• enhanced detoxification processes

• deep skin cleansing and rejuvenation

• tension and stress relief

How Does a Sauna Help You Detoxify?

Raising your body's temperature helps it kill bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses.

Dr. Lawrence Wilson has done a lot of research and testing with saunas. In his book Sauna Therapy, he wrote:

“Heating the body several degrees causes greatly increased

circulation as the body attempts to maintain its basal

temperature. This helps to dislodge toxins, especially from

hard-to-reach areas such as teeth, bones and sinuses.”

Liver and kidney function may also improve by taking saunas.

A Sauna Benefits Your Immune System...

By causing a ‘fever’. No, this doesn't mean that a sauna makes you sick. It sounds strange, but one way a sauna helps your immune system is by creating an artificial fever. This sends a sort of wake-up call to your immune system. The result is an increase in the production of white blood cells and other disease fighting allies.

How a Sauna Benefits Blood Circulation

As your body increases sweat production to keep cool, your heart works harder pumping more blood at a greater rate. This actually provides many of the conditioning benefits of aerobic exercise.

Please note that I didn't say saunas can replace exercise, but the heat does provide an environment that causes a profound cardiovascular response.

Dr. Andrew Weil is a highly respected holistic practitioner and true expert in health and wellness. Here's an excerpt from a comment he made about the sauna effect:

"When you take a sauna, the heat pumps up blood circulation

near the skin and stimulates sweating. The Finns say a

proper sauna elicits about a quart of sweat per hour. I

generally encourage sweating. It helps the body rid itself

of unwanted materials and improves general circulation."

Good blood circulation helps...

  • transport nutrients throughout your body
  • eliminate toxins
  • improve heart, liver, and kidney function
  • improve virtually every function in your body.

Good circulation is obviously crucial for us to stay healthy, right?

A Sauna May Improved Skin Appearance

Shortly after my very first 15 minute long "bake" session, I knew that I did something good for my skin. I felt very fresh, alive and tingly all over. That feeling was different from taking a shower or bath. While a shower rinses dirt off your body’s surface, the sweating created in a sauna rinses out your pores. A heavy sauna induced sweat really helps cleanse and rejuvenate your skin - much more than just a bath or shower alone.

Tip: For really healthy skin, try combining sweat bathing and brushing with a loofa or rough brush. This removes flakes of dried skin cells that accumulate on the epidermis. If allowed to remain, they can clog sweat pores and oil passages and result in dry, flaky skin.

It appears that the extreme heat and heavy sweating created in a sauna can help create a healthier inner "you". It may effectively do this along with regular exercise, drinking lots of water and eating healthy foods most of the time.

: For certain health issues, your doctor should be consulted with first before making sauna bathing a regular part of life.

Taking a sauna does increase your metabolism and help burn calories, but a sauna is absolutely, positively not a replacement for good nutrition and exercise!
Nevertheless, there appears to be strong proof that most people really can benefit from regular sauna use.

Steam Room Benefits

Most people associate steam baths with relaxation or skin look-and-feel improvements, but steam room benefits may also include:

  • relief from muscle tension and stiff joints
  • boosting the immune system
  • lymph detoxification
  • blood circulation improvement
  • sinus congestion relief

Regular use of a steam room can possibly improve your health and appearance.

Unique Steam Room Benefits

Both sauna and steam baths are therapeutic, but the high moisture content in a steam room is especially good for respiratory problems. For generations, doctors have recommended breathing steam for all kinds of respiratory issues. Of course if you have high blood pressure or other conditions, make sure you consult your doctor first.

Steam baths have been proven to be effective for conditions such as...

  • asthma,
  • bronchitis,
  • sinusitis,
  • allergies.

Steam can help allergens and mucus from your lungs. Vaporizers don't compare. Why?

Because a steam room exposes you to a higher concentration of steam, making it more effective for providing relief from breathing problems.
Breathing passages are soothed because of increased moisture content in your lungs, throat and nose. Dr. Darrell L. Wolfe, Ac, Ph.D, wrote a good article about the
therapeutic health benefits of steam rooms.

Skin Benefits

Nothing is better for your skin than a heavy sweat. Dermatologists recognize the value of steam in creating a beautiful, healthy glow. Heavy sweating cleanses your skin more thoroughly than soap and water. How?

Because it opens your pores and allows deep-seated grime (yuck) and dead cells to be flushed out. This is one reason steam baths can be helpful for
acne treatment and some other skin conditions.

Also, the heat causes an increase in blood circulation, bringing more oxygen and nutrients to your skin surface. Over time, this can help contribute to a healthy, glowing appearance.

Pain Relief

Heat has been known to be effective against joint and muscular pain. It causes your blood vessels to expand, which increases blood circulation. As a result, more oxygen and nutrients can reach damaged parts of your body.This has the double effect of temporarily reducing or stopping pain and increasing your body's healing rate. Spend 10 or 15 minutes in a steam room after you exercise for example, and you'll help speed up healing of damaged muscle tissue.

Goodbye Stress!

Many peoples lives are filled with stress, and we all know what stress can lead to...

  • high blood pressure,
  • cardiovascular disease,
  • migraine headaches,
  • muscle tension, etc.

As Relaxing in a steam room is a great way to unwind and relieve stress.The heat tells your muscles to relax, and the cloud of steam provides the perfect soothing atmosphere for calming your mind. I can't sit more than two minutes in a steam room and not feel completely relaxed. High stress levels is probably one of the reasons more and more people are installing home steam rooms.

Have you ever taken a steam bath before bed? If so, you already know that it promotes deep, restful sleep which is so important for recharging your batteries and healing your body. Spending time in a steam room regularly can quite possibly have a noticeable impact on your health, appearance, and your state of mind.

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