• Panorama Spa at Hotel Alpenrose

    Why Spas and Thermal Baths Are So Good for Us

    Sulphur springs strengthen our immune system, brine baths relax us through and through. Find out why spas can be a veritable fountain of youth.

    Can Water Have A Healing Effect?

    Steam & Warmth

    Researching water, nature, and their effect on the human body is Johanna Freidl’s job. She’s a biologist with the Hohe Tauern Health medical spa in SalzburgerLand, Austria, where patients receive aerosol inhalation therapy at the local Krimml Waterfalls, as well as a researcher at the Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg.

    The healing properties of water are an important feature of thermal baths. Of course, taking the time to focus on one’s recuperation in a relaxing environment will be beneficial to one’s health, even just by virtue of the placebo effect. But are there any effects that are supported by scientific findings? “Certain water types have been shown to have different effects: sulphureous water strengthens our immune system, brine baths are calming and relaxing”, says Freidl.

    Im Narzissen Vital Resort Bad Aussee (Solebad)

    Immune Boost and Deep Relaxation: What Is A Thermal Bath?

    • The Definition

      There are about 40 thermal spas in Austria filled with bubbling, steaming water. A spa is only allowed to take the moniker “thermal bath” (“Therme” in German) if it has its own spring, and its groundwater emerges at a temperature above 20° C (68° F). Thermal waters contain minerals and trace elements such as brine, sulphur, calcium, magnesium, iodine, or selenium, imbuing the spring with health benefits.

    • The Study

      “The thermal effect can be seen when we look at muscle relaxation”, says Freidl. “Warmth enhances blood flow and relaxes the entire system.” A few years back, she conducted a clinical study comparing various kinds of thermal water, to find out if a combination of hiking and thermal baths could strengthen older people’s immune systems. She found out that different water types have different effects:

    • The Effect

      Sulphureous water strengthened people’s immune system whilst brine baths had a strong relaxing effect. Even slightly radioactive water containing trace amounts of radon has been shown to have health benefits, specifically a stabilised immune system. And sulphate water has a positive effect on the epigastric region. Your spa of choice will be happy to tell you more about their specific thermal water and its effects.

    That’s Hot! Austria’s Top 7 Spas

    •                 Aqua Dome

      Aqua Dome, Tirol

      Tirol’s “Alpine Spa” is nestled between mountain peaks and forests in the Ötztal valley. Relax in one of 12 indoor and outdoor pools filled with 34-36 °C (93-97 °F) warm water.

      More about this Alpine spa
    •                 Wellness in winter holiday

      Tauern SPA in Zell am See–Kaprun, SalzburgerLand

      Located within the Hohe Tauern National Park, this state-of-the-art spa resort caters to both active and easy-going visitors. Try the brine baths!

      Learn more & relax
    •                 Winter in der Alpentherme

      Alpentherme Gastein Spa, SalzburgerLand

      This spa’s waters contain the natural noble gas radon, which is said to regenerate the function of disrupted cells and mobilise the body's immune defences.

      Explore the Alpine Water Worlds
    •                 Rogner Bad Blumau thermal spa at night

      Rogner Bad Blumau Spa, Styria

      Designed by Austrian artist Friendensreich Hundertwasser as a colourful fairy-tale world, this spa lets you float in highly mineralised Vulkania® salt water.

      Enjoy the brine bath
    •                 Harald Schmidt am Schwimmenden Salon, Thermalbad Vöslau

      Thermalbad Vöslau Spa, Lower Austria

      “Vöslauer” mineral water is served in many an Austrian restaurant. In this historic spa, you can also bathe in it.

      Bathe & drink
    •                 Therme Amadé spa

      Amadé Spa, SalzburgerLand

      Adults can relax in brine baths and crystal pools whilst the little ones enjoy climbing walls and diving platforms.

      Learn more about this family spa
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      St. Martins Spa Lodge, Burgenland

      Grasses, reeds, and even indoor trees give this spa the feel of a quaint little oasis.

      Relax in nature, indoors

    “Certain types of water have been shown to have different effects: sulphureous water strengthens our immune system, brine baths have a calming, relaxing effect.”

    Johanna Freidl PhD, Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg