Spas and saunas have been used for centuries throughout the world — from Himalayan hot springs to Russian banyas to Turkish hammams. The heat relieves any aches and pains caused by muscle soreness. It also promote sweating which helps leach toxins like mercury, salts and pesticides from the body. Japanese doctors found that 15 minutes of sauna once a day can prevent atherosclerosis by decreasing levels of oxidants known to harden arteries. The heat can also cause the veins to dilate, lowering the Blood Pressure.
While steam baths use moist heat, saunas offer dry heat sessions. People with respiratory problems like sinus congestion and asthma may find it difficult to breathe in the dry heat of a sauna. In such cases, the moist heat of steam baths is preferable. Nevertheless, both these types of hot baths stimulate blood flow and promote healthy metabolism.
Benefits of sauna includes reduction of stress hormones, stimulation of muscles, lowering of blood pressure and improvement of cardiovascular health. Steam bath is known to stimulate detoxification through perspiration. Breathing and holding in the hot, moist air relieves muscle soreness. It also improves airflow in the lungs which loosens tight airways and relieve Chest congestion, nasal irritation & asthma.
Effects on skin
Saunas and steam bath open the pores in the skin and make you sweat, which releases toxins from the body and effectively cleanses the skin. This may be beneficial for people with acne, as impurities in the skin are one of the causes of acne. Sauna also helps to eradicate blackheads to give clearer skin.
Both Sauna & Steam bath increase blood and lymphatic circulation which will effectively aid in softening the skin. You will notice a healthy pink glow in your skin. Cleansed skin will make you look younger and rejuvenated.
Using Sauna, a person can lose up to 500gm in 10 minutes. Japanese researchers found saunas actually make the heart work hard enough to constitute light exercise. In case of Steam Bath a person can lose up to 125gm in 10 minutes. The heart won’t be working as hard as it would in sauna therapy so virtually every gram of weight lost would be in the form of sweat.
A sauna may help relieve pain with three natural actions: Dilating blood vessels, easing muscle tension, and improving circulation. When these three actions are combined, certain types of pain may lessen considerably. Arthritic pains, muscle aches, shoulder stiffness, neck pain, back pain, and headaches can all be reduced or eliminated in some cases. Many people use saunas regularly to enjoy continuous pain relief.
Saunas and steam rooms may provide emotional and physical relaxation benefits. Wet and dry heat simulate sedative effects that generate feelings of calmness and relaxation. Some people who suffer emotional or mood disorder may find relief with regular trips to saunas or steam rooms. Saunas and steam rooms also promote deep tissue massages.
When the muscles have been relaxed and blood is circulating optimally, it is easier to sleep at night. People who are relaxed while they are asleep enjoy a better quality of sleep that leaves them feeling rested after waking. Heat also helps many people feel sleepy so a visit to a sauna shortly before bedtime may be helpful to people who find it difficult to fall asleep
Stronger Immune System
Another benefit of heat is that it helps the body create more white blood cells. These cells are responsible for attacking infections and diseases that infiltrate the body. A person with a higher count of white blood cells will stay healthier and heal faster from illnesses.
That being said, spending too much time in a sauna can lead to excessive thirst. Similarly, prolong usage of steam room can cause dizziness or even a rapid heartbeat. People with hard to control hypertension (high blood pressure) may sometimes experience worsening blood pressure in response to heat exposure. So use Spa judiciously and enjoy all the health benefits of Sauna and steam room bath.
5 Steps to proper usage of Spa, Sauna and Steam rooms
- Avoid alcoholic beverages, excessive caffeine intake and medications that may impair sweating or increase the health risks from heat exposure.
- Stay in no more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
- Cool down gradually after use. Avoid going rapidly from a hot to a cold environment e.g. immediate cold shower after sauna is not advisable as this increases the physiological stress on the body considerably.
- Drink 2 to 4 glasses of cool water after each session.
- Don’t take a sauna or steam bath if you are ill and if you find yourself feeling unwell while in a steam room or sauna, head for the door.