By John Donegan
Unless you’re from Finland, where there are more saunas than cars, you may have never considered adding a sauna to your home. Although it’s a significant expenditure, once constructed, a sauna adds value to the home, requires very little upkeep and can provide a great deal of health benefits.
Whether you purchase a pre-cut sauna package or a pre-built, free-standing sauna, your sauna will take up a lot of space in your home. At-home saunas are generally anywhere from 3×4 feet to 8×10 feet, so in all likelihood, you will have to relocate some of your furniture to an attic, basement or storage unit. When choosing a location for your sauna, make sure there is a waterproof floor and access to a 220- to 240-volt electrical hookup for the heater. Also, you may want to place your at-home sauna near a shower for convenience.
Unlike swimming pools and hot tubs, saunas rarely require maintenance. Aside from periodically cleaning the floor, you can leave saunas alone entirely. All types of sauna heaters – electric, gas and wood – have few moving parts and rarely break down.
- Help rid the body of toxins. Saunas are a great way to naturally expel impurities. While taking a sauna, the body sweats out harmful toxins, such as nicotine, lead and mercury.
- Soothe sore muscles. Saunas temporarily relax muscles and relieve arthritic pain.
- Reduce stress. Saunas cause your body to release endorphins, which help reduce stress and increase your energy level.
- Help to maintain healthy skin. Saunas open skin pores, relax facial tension and promote cellular growth by bringing nutrients to the epidermis.
- Improve circulation. Sauna heat brings blood closer to the skin and increases blood flow to the body’s extremities.
- Increase metabolic rate. With regular sauna use, you burn hundreds of calories per session and can increase your metabolic rate over time. However, this doesn’t mean saunas are a good dietary supplement. Nearly all weight lost in the sauna is water weight, which quickly comes back.
- Relieve sinus congestion. Saunas offer temporary relief from symptoms of the common cold, including sinus congestion and throat ailments.
Conventional saunas vs. infrared cabins
Regardless of the type of heat source, conventional sauna temperatures range from 150 degrees to 194 degrees Fahrenheit. Pouring ladles of water over the rocks produces steam, which raises the overall temperature but lowers humidity, making the heat tolerable. If you have a low tolerance to heat, you could consider an infrared alternative. Unlike conventional saunas, which use wood, gas or electric stoves, infrared cabins use radiation to heat the skin and can do so while keeping the air temperature as low as 70 degrees. Although technically not saunas per se, infrared cabins produce the same amount of sweat, though they usually do so quicker and at lower temperatures.
- Be sure not to stay in saunas too long, as this can cause dehydration and heat stroke.
- Properly hydrate before using the sauna, especially if you live in a dry climate (say, Las Vegas).
- Don’t use your sauna under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- If you have heart disease or abnormal blood pressure, saunas can potentially be dangerous.
- Pregnant women should consult their physician before using saunas.
- Children under the age of 5 should not use saunas.
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John Donegan is a writer at SpareFoot, the world’s largest online marketplace for self-storage, where you can find and reserve a self-storage unit with comparison shopping tools that show real-time availability and exclusive deals. John lives in Austin, TX and occasionally directs videos for rap artists.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.