Infrared Sauna - Advantages and Disadvantages
In more traditional saunas, the heater heats the air of the sauna but in FAR infrared saunas, infrared heaters only heat the people and objects.
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In the last few years, a relatively new type of sauna has emerged.
Unlike more traditional saunas that usually use wood, or electric stoves, as a heat source, the infrared sauna uses, as the name implies, infrared heaters. In older, more traditional saunas, the heater heats the air of the sauna but in a FAR infrared sauna, infrared heaters only heat the people and objects - not the air.
Because the air itself is not heated, infrared heaters can be used anywhere - even outdoors - and still have heating effect on the body. They are used in traditionally designed sauna enclosures simply for the atmosphere. After all, people are used to going into saunas and may be more comfortable in a traditionally designed 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). This is very different from Ultraviolet Radiation that can cause sunburn or Atomic radiation from nuclear weapons. Most of the heat that warms the earth is plain old IR from the sun, and the earth and even the human body gives off IR.
You will often see the term "FAR" in descritpions of these types of saunas.
All that really means is that a specific portion of the infrared spectrum is used...a portion which provides heat.
People who argue in favor of infrared saunas say that they have even more therapeutic properties than traditional saunas.
Health Benefits of the Infrafed Sauna
Among the varioius health benefits of traditional saunas are; 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.
On the other hand, an infrared sauna generates no steam so they are less
effective in relieving breathing problems.
However, when it comes to building up a sweat and easing the pain of arthritis, infrared saunas are about the same as traditional
saunas. In addition, Infrared Radiation is supposed by some to have unique healing properties that cannot be found in the radiant
heat used in conventional saunas.
Those who prefer the IR sauna say that it penetrates into the body's internal organs
and muscular tissues. This triggers a release of toxins and a strengthening of the immune system.
Some of these claims may very well be exaggerated.
After all, there is actualy little medical research that backs them up...or refutes
them, for that matter.
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. In the final analysis, you will have to try it and see for yourself.
One good thing is that there is no particular danger associated with infrared saunas – simply take the same precautions that you
would when using conventional saunas.
Advantages of the Infrared Sauna
When analyzed, there are a number of advantages of infrared saunas over the more recognized steam saunas.
Since they operate at a lower temperature, some people find them more comfortable
than regular saunas. The lower heat levels produced also means less
electricity consumption, so IR saunas are cheaper to operate. Infrared saunas heat up much faster than conventional saunas. This is another factor which influences reduced operating costs, by the way.
Traditional saunas can create hot, dry air which some people find uncomfortable to breathe. IR saunas do not heat up the air -
the ambient air quality will be similar both inside and outside the sauna.
Infrared saunas do not use any water. This makes them more portable, and easier to install, and eliminates the problems of bacterial build-up that can plague a damper, traditional sauna.
Disadvantages of the Infrared Sauna
Some people feel that IR saunas do not provide the feelings of
relaxation and refreshment of the conventional sauna. I guess
the lack of steam in an IR sauna may be an advantage or disadvantage
depending on your preference. There are other factors which
can go both ways as well. For example, while steam can be
useful for relieving respiratory problems, the normally dry air of the
sauna is uncomfortable for some people to breathe.
I believe that a sauna purist would probably say that IR saunas are not 'real' saunas. For those who love the ritual and preparation that are associated with the conventional saunas, an IR sauna probably just doesn't 'feel' right.
Infrared or Conventional...A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose
When you get down to it, a sauna has beneficial health effects, no matter what it's basic design or heat source. Saunas are relaxing and make the skin feel clean and
smooth. Whether or not they are actually useful in the treatment of disease remains an open question, but many people swear by
their therapeutic qualities, and sometimes feeling better just depends on...well...feeling better!
Be aware that some of the medical claims made for infrared saunas border on quackery, but, who knows, there may indeed be some special
benefits in IR 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, right?
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