Taking time out in a sauna or steam room
is more than just a cleansing, relaxing experience. Alongside that sense of wellbeing there are genuine, well-documented health benefits.
Regular sauna or steam bathing has proven benefits for the respiratory system, and is an effective treatment for conditions such as asthma, sinusitis, bronchitis and even the common cold.
Sauna and steam rooms also stimulate the cardiovascular system – exercising the heart and circulation. A workout -- without the effort? It must be every couch potato’s dream. . . but, for obvious reasons, this also means that bathers with heart conditions should always seek medical advice before using any kind of sauna or steam facility.
Regular sauna or steam bathing also tones the skin and is regarded by some as one of the simplest ways to rid the body of toxins – by opening the pores and encouraging the body to sweat.
These and other benefits are already well known within the world of professional sport – in which sauna and steam bathing is regularly used to help treat injuries, as it speeds up the healing process.
Given all these benefits, why is that we in the UK tend to file sauna and steam under the ‘occasional luxuries’ section of our lives? While we may think nothing of spending a fortune on complicated, arduous, detoxifying diets, we only venture into a sauna or steam room as and when we find the time to get to the health club.
For many people, the concept of having sauna or steam at home is never given serious consideration. Surely such extravagances are only for the celebrity homes of glossy magazine?
Not so! In fact, with so many different sizes and shapes of home installations to choose from, sauna and steam units are much more affordable than people might think, with prices starting at less than a £1,000, and ranging right up to £10,000 for a luxurious bespoke sauna.
Sauna v steam v infrared
The range of heat room options can be confusing and it is important to understand the differences between steam, sauna and infrared installations before making a purchase.
The key difference between steam and sauna is the difference between wet and dry heat – and which you choose will be a matter of personal preference. For some people, the softness of a steam room is more appealing than the dry heat of a sauna. However, others believe that saunas encourage the body to perspire and so eliminate toxins more effectively.
Then there are infrared saunas, which heat the body through infra-red radiation, in the same way as the sun. Infrared operates at lower temperatures than traditional sauna, which is preferred by some bathers. They are also more energy efficient, running at around 1.5 KW/hour as opposed to around 7.5KW/hour for a conventional sauna.
Those who really want a sauna or steam room, will almost certainly be able to find a space for one.
If you already have a swimming pool, then hopefully you can extend the existing plant room or poolside chalet. Even if you only have a small garden, there is likely to be an area that would accommodate your sauna or steam room in a steam cabin
or wooden garden room.
Alternatively, you should be able to find a corner for a sauna in your home. A small unit, that can accommodate four people, can easily be located somewhere like an alcove or attic. But do remember, that to use it properly you will need access to a shower. Also, be aware that hot and possibly moist air will escape into the rest of your home when the door opens – so ensure there is adequate ventilation and that wall and floor coverings in the vicinity are of appropriate materials.
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