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There are many ways to take care of our bodies these days, some definitely more luxurious than others. Let’s be honest, there’s nothing particularly glamorous about taking your daily vitamins, chugging water or getting to bed at a reasonable hour. And yet we all do (or strive to) do these things on a daily basis, to keep ourselves healthy.
If you’re a total health nut, there are plenty of fancier, more extravagant and expensive ways you can take care of yourself, including using a massage gun and plunging into your own, at-home ice bath after work. These rituals are good for anyone, and are especially beneficial for active individuals looking to boost their recovery. Sure, you could book a day at your local spa, but why not invest in certain therapeutic remedies you can indulge in within the comfort of your own home? We’re talking foot massagers, compression therapy and at home saunas.
Home Saunas: What You Need to Know
Just in case you’ve never used a sauna before, it’s basically a very hot, dry room made entirely out of wood where you sweat out everything from that martini you had last night to that embarrassing thing you did when you were eight years old. Seriously, these things make you SWEAT, so if you’re someone who hates being too hot we don’t recommend getting one.
Most saunas use dry heat to reach temperatures as high as 195°F. Some people may find them very therapeutic after a long workout or training session. The practice has roots in Scandinavia, where people have been sitting and perspiring for hundreds of years. In fact, in Finland, there are some 2 million saunas for the country’s 5.2 million people.
Health Benefits and Risks of Saunas
Spy Disclaimer: Our editors are just that, editors, and are by no means health experts. Please consult your doctor or a healthcare professional before adding any new regimen to your healthcare routine, including sessions in a sauna.
There’s anecdotal evidence that regular sauna usage is relaxing, as your sympathetic nervous system is activated in order to balance the temperature in your body, and the heat may relax the muscles in your face, neck, legs and back.
There’s also some evidence that suggests saunas may help relieve pain throughout the body including tension in the joints and stiffness. A 2008 study done on patients with certain musculoskeletal diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis showed improvement in physical symptoms after four weeks of consistent use.
There are also studies that have shown sauna bathing has a positive effect on blood pressure modulation, as well as non vascular conditions including improving lung function and volume, and a reduction in pain for disorders like osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia.
Please note that a commonly touted benefit of sauna use is a “detoxifying” of the body. There’s no evidence to suggest that saunas aid in this process, that’s typically done entirely by your liver and kidneys. Saunas make your body sweat in order to cool you down, but there’s no detoxifying that happens during that process.
There is also a potential risk of dehydration if you stay in a sauna for too long, so please follow all instructions on the operating manual for the device, as well as recommendations from your doctor.
What to Consider Before Buying a Home Sauna
The key to reaping as many benefits as possible from a home sauna? Consistent usage. The good news is you don’t have to belong to a bougie health club or drive to a spa in the mountains to use one, as there are plenty of at-home options available.
Rather than spa saunas that either burn wood to generate heat, burn coals or use spooned water over sauna rocks to generate heat, home saunas are typically run with electricity. There are a few different common types of home saunas — including ceramic heat saunas and carbon heat saunas. Both typically incorporate infrared elements, but ceramic heat runs a little hotter and carbon heat saunas can penetrate deeper.
Keep in mind, the installation process for a high-end, expensive product like this is going to require more effort, similar to installing a new washing machine, refrigerator or stovetop. If you don’t book installation along with your purchase, it’ll most likely get dropped at the curb and require two people, at least, to carry it to your desired location. Some require some assembling, and some may require an electrician depending on how much power they need.
Most home saunas fit two to three people, with some larger outdoor models accommodating up to six people at once.
Steam vs Infrared Saunas
There are two distinct types of at-home saunas you can purchase — steam and infrared saunas. The main difference between the two is, you guess it, the type of heat and how that heat gets delivered. Steam saunas use steam poured over hot coals or another heat source to produce a wet, sticky, humid environment to sweat in. Infrared saunas use light waves to quickly heat up the air around you. Both will give you a sweat, but infrared saunas tend to heat up a little faster, and use more energy.
Dynamic Infrared Single Person FAR Infrared Sauna
This FAR infrared sauna from Dynamic Infrared comes with a ton of extra features like Bluetooth audio and a remote control for adjusting the temperature. It’s made of Canadian Hemlock wood for retaining heat and more energy efficiency. It uses light waves to heat up and has a max temperature of 120-150 degrees Fahrenheit. It takes only 10-15 minutes to heat up, making it perfect for impromptu sweat sessions and is built to perfectly fit one person. If you’re an at-home gym nut looking to expand your recovery repertoire, this is a worthwhile investment.
2. Dynamic “Andora” 2-Person Infrared Sauna
This infrared sauna from Dynamic comes with six low-EMF FAR infrared carbon heating panels, two on the rear wall, one on each side, one underneath the bench and one on the floor, for a fully immersive heating experience. It’s got a two-person capacity, so it’s also not designed for larger households, and has a clear tempered glass door and side windows so you’re not claustrophobic while using it. It’s made with reforested Canadian hemlock wood, and comes with soft touch control panels and an LED display for easy temperature and time tracking.
3. Almost Heaven Saunas Audra 4-Person Steam Sauna
This sauna is meant to be installed outdoors, but it also has more space inside and can fit more people. It has a ball-and-socket design that’s held in place by stainless steel bands and fasteners. This construction allows the lumber to expand and contract with temperature fluctuations, all while keeping a tight seal. The two polymer support cradles lift the whole thing off the ground, and the barrel shape is great for an even distribution of heat. It comes with a vent, as well as outdoor seating options for storing towels, drinks or other accessories.
4. BOTARO Maxxus Carbon 2-Person Infrared Sauna
This sauna from BOTARO has a near-perfect rating and is built with the user in mind. It comes with a reflexology foot floor heater as well as five other heating panels for making the interior as warm as possible. It’s got a control panel on the inside that’s easy to read, and displays the temperature and time functions clearly. It’s got built-in speakers with an MP3 aux connection and an interior reading lamp. It’s got a maximum temperature of 140°F, and an ideal temperature operating range of 120°F-130°F.
5. KUNSANA Far Infrared 2-Person Sauna Room
This sauna can be installed indoors or outdoors, so if you want flexibility with your placement it’s a great option. It’s built with a non-radiation carbon crystal heating plate that cranks the temperature up evenly and effectively, and it’s got 360-degree omnidirectional infrared light waves that enhance your experience. It’s made of Canadian hemlock that’s naturally moisture-resistant, corrosion-resistant and naturally non-deforming. It comes with an LCD display and high-quality Bluetooth audio, and the heating element is safe to touch and waterproof as well.
6. San Marino 2 Person FAR Infrared Sauna
This sauna from Dynamic Saunas fits two people, and has an environmentally-friendly construction that’s designed to heat up faster and more efficiently, and use less energy in the process. It comes with a remote control and two control panels, one onside and one outside, for customizing the temperature. It’s also got six carbon, low-EMF heating panels and a clear, tempered glass door for easy entrances and exits.
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8. Almost Heaven Saunas Audra 6-Person Steam Sauna
BEST FOR LARGE GROUPS
If you’d like a roomy sauna so all your friends can join for spa day, this option from ALEKO is one of the biggest saunas we found that you can order online. It’s got a roomy barrel design that’s big enough for up to six people. It’s designed for outdoor use, so you’ll want to build it in a backyard or large outdoor space. It’s got a ball-and-socket build that’s held in place by stainless steel bands and minimal fasteners for a secure construction. This allows for the lumber to expand and contract with the temperature and form a tight seal. The design is also aesthetically pleasing, in addition to being functional, and there’s a bench inside and outside for holding towels, drinks or taking breaks between sauna sessions.
9. Almost Heaven Saunas Auburn 3-Person Traditional Steam Sauna
BEST STEAM SAUNA
This sauna from Almost Heaven Saunas uses traditional steam from a heater to raise the temperature, and comes with pre-assembled wall and roof sections. It’s got an interior LED light and slat benches for multi-level seating. It can comfortably fit three people, and is made to be as space-efficient as possible. One important note, however, is that the sauna does not come with its own floor, so you’re given the option of either purchasing a separate floor kit or using existing concrete, ceramic, vinyl, laminate or tile flooring you already have.
10. Almost Heaven 3-Person FAR Infrared Saunas
This is the infrared version of the Almost Heaven 3-person sauna featured above. It’s made with extra-wide carbon fiber heating panels designed to mimic the warmth of the sun. It can be installed in any dry place indoors, including in a carpeted bedroom. It has a hemlock construction, Bluetooth audio, soft lighting and light therapy elements designed to enhance the experience. It has a backlit red cedar accent as well as a digital timer and temperature controls.