Melt away your stress in a home sauna

The health benefits of home saunas are well documented. Saunas and steam rooms provide relief from conditions ranging from bronchitis and asthma to rheumatism, dermatitis and psoriasis.

Beyond these benefits, though, the simple act of lounging in an indoor or outdoor sauna is therapeutic in itself. For many years, it was believed that the steam vapors helped the body process and eliminate impurities and toxins; while this has not been proven, home saunas and steam rooms indisputably help you relax, reduce stress and provide a welcome respite from the pressures of day-to-day life. Some people prefer saunas to hot tubs, while others find a sauna the perfect complement to their spa or swimming pool.

An Introduction to the Different Types of Saunas

Traditionally, saunas used heated coals and rocks to generate steam, which was contained in an enclosed space. The goal was to create an environment in which temperatures reached or exceeded 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit) while keeping humidity under control.

However, other methods to generate heat and steam are used today. Some of the sauna types you may encounter include:

  • Infrared saunas. An infrared sauna uses radiant heat that penetrates the body directly. This differs from the traditional wet or dry sauna, which heats the body indirectly via the steam released into the air.
  • Dry saunas. Because dry heat is more comfortable and allows the body to withstand higher temperatures, some people prefer dry saunas. In saunas of this type, the relative humidity level is kept at about 20 percent.
  • Outdoor saunas. An outdoor sauna is a specially constructed building, traditionally made of wood, which provides seating for larger groups of people. While outdoor saunas can take longer to heat up, they are preferred by many people for their roominess and privacy.
  • Portable saunas. Some companies manufacture transportable sauna units that you can take with you to your cottage or vacation home. Most portable saunas are made from insulated reflective material and are designed for limited occupancy; they generally use infrared heat sources and are collapsible.

Choosing the Right Home Sauna

Broadly speaking, there are two major sauna types in the consumer market segment: traditional Finnish saunas, and those that use infrared sauna heaters. If you have breathing problems, you might find that traditional steam saunas exacerbate your troubles; in such a case, an infrared sauna would probably be a better choice. Also, keep in mind that dry saunas can have the same effect as steam saunas on those with breathing troubles.

Discount saunas are widely available online, but you'll tend to get better customer service by shopping with traditional retailers. Most traditional retailers also offer delivery and installation, whereas you may need to pay shipping costs and install the sauna yourself if you opt to go with the lowest price you can find online.

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