For centuries, people all around the world have been using steam baths and saunas to promote physical health and social bonding. Thousands of years of folk wisdom and a whole lot of modern scientific data agree: regularly exposing oneself to the hot, humid conditions of a steam bath or sauna is good for the body in a myriad of ways, and is also a great way to help relieve stress.
Here is a guide to steam bath and sauna to educate the consumers on the advantages and explain why it is worth the cost of installing one at home.
1. Good For the Body
Both saunas and steam baths work by heating a relatively small, enclosed space, raising the ambient temperature of the room and, by extension, anyone inside it. In both, one is meant to sit on a small bench or seat, close the eyes, and unwind. Body temperature rises in a comfortable, warm-blankety sort of way, and a few things happen. First, the heart rate increases slightly, improving circulation throughout the body and increasing blood flow to the surface of the skin, invigorating it. The rise in temperature also causes the body to start producing all kinds of good, disease fighting stuff, the way it would if one had a fever, from elevating white blood cells to helping kill off bad microbes. Muscles relax, joint pain eases up, metabolism speeds up and pores open, helping to rid the body of toxins. Also, sweating is the best way to flush toxins out of the body - especially from the lymphatic system - and it also helps rejuvenate and revitalize the skin.
2. Good For the Mind
In addition to the stress relieving properties of heat offered by steam baths and saunas, both have a variety of additional mood-elevating secondary features. Both saunas and steam baths typically have built in chromatherapy functionality - built in LED lights that emit a range of colors medically proven to affect mood in a variety of ways, from relaxing to energizing. Both saunas and steam baths also frequently come with built in waterproof sound systems, so one can dock an iPod or other mp3 player outside and listen to the favorite music while bathing. Steam baths (though not typically saunas) also often contain an aromatherapy option. Aromatherapy steam baths add a few drops of mood-enhancing essential oils to the steam (like lavender for relaxation, citrus for energy and alertness, and so on) to do double duty.
3. Better Than A Long Soak Or A Hot Shower
When designing a dream bathroom, design shows will nudge one in the direction of a huge soaking tub and a custom shower big enough to fit the whole family. But while both are enjoyable to use, they often don't get fully enjoyed. It takes a long time to fill a big tub, and it uses a lot of water - and so does a shower equipped with half a dozen shower heads and body sprayers. That can mean installing a bigger water heater and more sophisticated drainage system just to have them. But a simple steam bath uses less than a gallon of water every 20 minutes, and a sauna uses none at all. Plus, because both are capable of heating up in a matter of minutes, it's a luxury one can enjoy at any time, for as much or little time as desired - even if it's just for five minutes before the morning shower.
4. A Sauna...
The primary difference between a sauna and a steam bath is the inclusion of moisture. A sauna is typically made with a single sauna heater located inside the sauna space and often covered in rocks which are heated by electric coils or with an infrared heater. This produces a dry heat, and can help elevate the body to a higher temperature more comfortably than a steam bath. In most saunas, water can be poured over the heated rocks to produce brief bursts of steam and raise the humidity level inside the sauna, but overall it will be much less humid than a steam bath. Because of that, saunas are typically built as a separate structure, rather than as part of a shower, and are often made of wood rather than tile or glass. In fact, many of them come as pre-cut sauna rooms that can be simply assembled and placed anywhere in a home that has access to an outlet. While steam baths built inside a shower may contain one or two seats, larger saunas are often built with long benches instead of individual seats, which makes it easier to either seat more people, or to recline.
5. Or a Steam Bath
Steam baths, on the other hand, are all about the moisture. Using about a gallon of water every 20 minutes, an average steam generator can fill a large shower enclosure with thick, enveloping steam in a matter of minutes. The temperature won't get as high in a steam bath like as it will in a sauna because the humidity intensifies the feeling of heat at a lower temperature, but all the same health benefits apply equally to both. For a major bathroom remodel, steam baths can be somewhat more practical, as they can be integrated with a shower, which also makes it easier to wash up once the steam bath is finished. Plus, steam generators are much smaller than sauna heaters, and can be installed up to 25 feet away from the steam enclosure, offering more flexible installation options.
Whichever one is preferable, though, the health benefits are definitely worth considering - not to mention the relaxation and peace of mind that comes from taking just a few relaxing minutes a day to unwind.
Published with permission from RISMedia.