A relatively new type of sauna has emerged in recent years. Unlike traditional saunas that use wood or electric stoves to heat them, the infrared sauna uses infrared heaters. In traditional saunas the heater heats the air of the sauna but infrared heaters only heat the people and objects - not the air.
Because the air is not heated, infrared heaters can be used anywhere - even outdoors - and still have a heating effect on human bodies. They are used in sauna enclosures simply for the atmosphere - people are used to going into saunas and may be more comfortable in an enclosure than in an open space.
Infrared is actually a frequency band of light that is invisible to the human eye. The heat from infrared is sometimes called Infrared Radiation (IR) - very different from Ultraviolet Radiation that can cause sunburn or Atomic radiation from nuclear weapons. Most of the heat that warms the earth is IR from the sun, and the earth and even the human body gives off IR.
Proponents of infrared saunas say that they have even more therapeutic properties than traditional saunas.
The health benefits of traditional saunas include alleviating pain and stiffness from arthritis and cleansing the skin by inducing heavy sweating. In addition, the steam of traditional saunas can be helpful in relieving respiratory problems such as congestion and bronchitis.
Infrared saunas generate no steam so they are less effective in relieving breathing problems. When it comes to building up a sweat and easing the pain of arthritis, though, infrared saunas are about the same as traditional saunas. In addition, Infrared Radiation is supposed to have unique healing properties that cannot be found in the radiant heat used in conventional saunas. Proponents of Infrared saunas say that it penetrates into the body's internal organs and muscular tissues to release toxins and strengthen the immune system.
Some of these claims may be exaggerated - there is little medical research that backs them up. There is no doubt, however, that saunas can be beneficial for some medical conditions. Infrared saunas may have unique properties that have additional benefits over traditional saunas. Try it and see for yourself. There is no particular danger associated with infrared saunas - simply take the same precautions that you would when using conventional saunas.
There are a number of advantages of infrared saunas over steam saunas. Since they operate at a lower heat some people may find them more comfortable than regular saunas. The lower heat also means less electricity consumption, so Infrared saunas are cheaper to operate. Infrared saunas heat up much faster than conventional saunas. This is another factor in their reduced operating costs.
Traditional saunas create hot, dry air which some people find uncomfortable to breathe. Infrared saunas do not heat up the air - the air quality will be similar both inside and outside the sauna.
Infrared saunas don't use any water. This makes them more portable and easier to install and eliminates the problems of bacterial build-up that can occur in damp areas.
Some people say that infrared saunas do not provide the feelings of relaxation and refreshment of a conventional sauna. The lack of steam in an infrared sauna may be an advantage or disadvantage depending on your preference. Steam can be useful for relieving respiratory problems, but on the other hand, the normally dry air of the sauna is uncomfortable for some people to breathe.
A sauna purist would say that infrared saunas are not 'real' saunas. For those who love the rituals and preparation that are associated with conventional saunas, an infrared sauna just doesn't 'feel' right.
Infrared Sauna or Conventional Sauna
Any type of sauna has beneficial effects. Saunas are relaxing and make the skin feel clean and smooth. Whether or not they can be useful in the treatment of disease remains an open question, but many people swear by their therapeutic qualities. Some of the medical claims made for infrared saunas border on quackery, but there may indeed be some special benefits in infrared sauna therapy.
In any case, saunas are enjoyable and provide a great way to unwind. Infrared saunas can be easier to use and cheaper to install, and may have additional health benefits over conventional saunas. All good reasons to try them out.
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