The purpose of a sauna is to induce relaxation and overall well being through the therapeutic use of heat. A steam sauna uses moist heat. They are built using hardwoods such as pine or cedar for the walls, ceiling, floor and the benches. To produce the steam piles of stone are placed on a heat source which can be electric, gas or wood burning. Water is then poured over the stones producing the steam.
Primary used as winter dwellings the oldest saunas consisted of a pit dug into the ground at a slope. At the base there was a fireplace where the stones were heated. Water was then poured over these heated stones to increase the heat of the dwelling by producing steam. The Finnish also used these saunas as a place to refresh their spirit, rejuvenate and cleanse their minds. They were used to prepare their dead before burial. Women also gave birth in saunas due to the cleanliness and availability of water. The sauna remains an important part of daily life in Finnish culture. As the Finns moved to other parts of the world they carried with them their traditions thereby introducing the enjoyment and the benefits of health that can be achieved through them to other cultures throughout the world. There are both dry heat saunas and moist heat saunas. Most gymnasiums and sports facilities include saunas in their designs due to the many benefits they offer.
Many benefits can be seen from the use of a steam sauna. Besides the obvious relaxation and stress reduction that accompanies it. The pores are opened and the sweat flushes out toxins from the body thus assisting in a purification process. The heat speeds up your heart rate, which is the same thing you do in a cardio workout. This improves blood circulation through body while boosting your metabolism. Moist heat eases muscle aches and tension and can help relieve the pain of arthritis and joint stiffness. Just inhaling the steam is proven to relieve some symptoms of bronchitis, asthma and other sinus conditions. Long term allergy sufferers have seen some improvement in symptoms by enjoying regular sessions.
You should always check with your doctor if you have chronic medical conditions before beginning a steam sauna regimen. You will also need to increase your water intake before and after having a session to prevent dehydration and replenish your body.