The use of hydrotherapy through spa baths and steam rooms has been in use in some form or another for over 2,000 years.
It is apparent that the sauna is one of the oldest forms of enjoyment still in use today. It is estimated that the first saunas were created somewhere between the fifth and eighth century. The terminology actually stems from the “Finish” word from smoke known as “savu” and funnily enough is the only Finnish word that is found within the English dictionary.
The steam bath is another ancient practice that we still enjoy today. Dating back to the Greek and Roman periods this form of therapy was utilised by all society as a means of socialising and helping people live a healthier lifestyle. In Turkey the ritual of “steaming” is still very alive today and is known as “hammam”.
One of the more reputable pioneers in the field of integrative medicine, Dr Andrew Weil has credited saunas with the ability of actually increasing the overall circulation within the skin. “Go Ask Alice”, a service of Columbia University's Health Services, also includes steam rooms in this benefit.
There are a couple of main differences between the steam room and the sauna. Basically the sauna offers dry heat, whereas the steam room utilises a moist and wet heat. Temperature also differs greatly between the two. The sauna will normally operate between 160 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit alongside a humidity range of between 5% and 30%. Steam rooms on the other hand operate at 100% humidity but with temperatures between 110 and 114 degrees.
The body has unique effects when introduced to these extreme temperatures. The skin temperature will increase to about 104 degrees which has an additional effect where the pulse also increases by around 30% this in turn enables the heart to pump to twice its normal rate. As a protective measure against the internal organs the body then sends the majority of the heated blood cells to the skin allowing it to dissipate. Whilst this is taking place the flow of blood is increased combined with the circulation sending oxygen rich blood and nutrients to the skins surface which then helps the overall appearance and functionality.
The sauna and steam room both have similar properties with the body and this is to help the body to sweat and perspire. It is estimated that on average, the body will sweat around a pint of fluid within a matter of only minutes of entering the sauna or steam room.
Although common perception believes that sweating will remove toxins within the body, it is not true. Our liver and kidney are purpose built for this procedure. However sweating is able to eliminate dirt and grime within our pores, this is through the perspiration pushy its way through the skin bringing with it any excess dirt and grime.
There are many other benefits to our bodies through the use of the sauna and steam room. Pain can be relieved through loosening tense muscles and on the other hand after a tense workout can alleviate muscle cramp; relief can be aided to people who suffer rheumatic pains alongside much, much more.
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