To decide which is better, a steam room or a sauna, is not a hard choice to make. It all comes down to personal choices.
Both infrared saunas and steam rooms provide several therapeutic and health advantages, such as detoxification, relaxation, and weight loss, among others.
When deciding on a steam or sauna, you should consider your goals for this space. But before you decide, let’s take a moment to brush up on our basics.
What Is a Steam Room?
Steam rooms are commonly known as Turkish baths. They are constructed of a nonporous material, such as glass or tile, and an airtight environment that heats the body through high heat and humidity. A steam generator boils water to produce steam, resulting in moist air.
Temperatures average approximately 120 degrees Fahrenheit, while humidity levels can approach 100 percent, making it seem much hotter. Unlike infrared saunas, which directly heat the user, steam rooms heat the surrounding atmosphere, warming the person from the outside in.
As the humidity level in the steam room is very high, you won’t sweat profusely in it even though you feel like it. The droplets on your body are more likely to be condensed water from the humid air than perspiration.
Relaxation Benefits of Steam Rooms
Steam rooms create an environment rich in heat and high humidity, which is excellent for reaping various health and relaxation advantages. The high moisture air in a steam room provides users with benefits and an experience that is unique from that experienced in infrared saunas.
Here are some of the benefits of a steamy environment.
- Respiratory Relief
- Congestion Relief
- Hydration of the Skin
- Better Sleep
- Faster Recovery for Sore Muscles
- Enhanced Blood Flow
Like a sauna, steam rooms increase skin and core body temperature, which relates to many physiological changes. The difference is in the level of intensity. In the steam room, the changes are faster and more intense. A steam room can improve blood circulation, relieve congestion, promote skincare, aid in workout recovery, and boost the immune system.
What Is a Sauna?
A sauna is typically a room heated between 70° to 100° Celsius or 158° to 212° Fahrenheit. Traditional Finnish saunas usually use dry heat, with a relative humidity often between 10 and 20 percent. In other sauna types, the moisture is higher. Turkish-style saunas, for example, involve a greater level of humidity.
A sauna can raise the skin temperature to roughly 40° Celsius or 104° Fahrenheit.
As the skin temperature rises, heavy sweating also occurs. The heart rate increases as the body attempts to keep cool. It is common to lose about a pint of sweat while spending a short time in a sauna.
Types of Saunas include:
- Wood-burning stoves
- Electric heaters
- Infrared Sauna
Relaxation Benefits of Saunas
Saunas have been traditionally used to produce a feeling of relaxation. As your heart rate goes up and your blood vessels dilate, there’s an increase in blood flow to the skin.
Regardless of how a sauna is heated or the humidity level, the effects on the body are similar. Sitting in a sauna increases your heart rate and blood vessels widen. Your heart rate may increase to 100-150 beats a minute.
Here are some of its relaxation and health benefits.
- Relieves Muscle Soreness and Tense Muscles
- Blood Flow Increases
- Congestion Alleviation / Stuffy Nose Relief
- Improved Cardiovascular Health
- Skin Improvement
- It can help you to fight off depression.
- Alleviate lower back pain.
Safety Tips for Steam and Sauna Relaxation
Safety always comes first, no matter what you are doing. And that motto is no different when using a steam room or sauna therapy. Although numerous steps are taken to avoid any safety issues, the safety of most equipment is inevitably within the users’ hands.
Follow some simple safety rules, and you’re ready to experience the benefits.
- Do dress lightly or preferably not at all. The increase in temperature and humidity can cause your clothes to cling to your body.
- Do check with your doctor if you suffer from any type of cardiovascular disease or if you have been diagnosed with high or low blood pressure, circulatory problems, or diabetes. It is best to check with a medical professional to ensure you can use the sauna or steam room safely.
- Don’t wear jewelry. Some metals can heat up and get hot very quickly. This may lead to the possibility of injuries due to burns.
- Water is your best choice to keep hydrated. If you prefer not to drink water, a sports drink will suffice. Hydration is a crucial safety tip!
- Do not use the sauna or steam after a large meal. It is advisable to wait between 1 and 2 hours after eating before entering the sauna.
- Do not allow children under twelve to stay for more than 10 or 15 minutes. At this young age, they cannot regulate their body temperature, leading to overheating.
- Don’t stay in the sauna or steam room too long. The longer you are in, the more bodily water you will sweat. Excessive sauna bathing can cause severe dehydration, and you don’t need that.
Maximizing Your Steam Room or Sauna Relaxation
In today’s hurried times and demanding lifestyles, saunas and steam rooms are popular methods to relax and relieve stress. As discussed in this article, traditional steam rooms and saunas are recognized for their multiple health advantages, such as stress alleviation, muscle relaxation, skin cleaning, and even pain treatment.
But how can you make the most of each sauna session to get the most out of it?
- Schedule your saunas well and allow time not only for the period you’ll spend inside the sauna room but also for the time needed for the sauna room to heat up, which typically takes around 30-60 minutes.
- Invest in accessories such as aromatherapy oils, gentle brushes, and sponges.
- Avoid eating a heavy meal right before your usage.
- Drink plenty of water and avoid consuming any alcoholic beverages.
- Relax and focus on positive emotions.
- After your sauna session, get up slowly and avoid frequent sauna bathing.
- Rehydrate and replenish your lost electrolytes.
The Best Time to Use a Steam Room or Sauna
Although steam rooms and saunas have numerous potential health advantages, overdoing it can be detrimental, especially if you’re a beginner. More than 15 minutes in an environment with high temperatures will dehydrate you. Experts advise drinking water both during and after your visit.
Avoid the steam room and sauna until you get the all-clear from your medical professional if you are pregnant, immune-compromised, or recovering from surgery.
The following are the optimal times to utilize a steam room or sauna:
- Before an athletic competition or after a workout
- When you are stressed
- If you want to lose weight
- If you are experiencing body aches or pain
- When you are experiencing skin problems
- If you wish to improve your cardiovascular health
Who Comes Out on Top: Steam Rooms or Saunas?
Are you looking for a place to detox and unwind after a long day? You might be wondering if you should sit in a sauna or a steam room.
Both of these hot environments induce what is known as hormesis in your body. However, the type of hormesis you find in your body will differ depending on whether you’re in a sauna or steam room. For example, if you’re in a sauna, the temperature will be higher, creating a more humid environment for those that enter.
Whereas a steam room is on the cooler side and will increase the humidity, the air will still feel moist.
When it comes to the argument of a sauna over a steam room, the bottom line is that you’ve got to choose the one that works the best for you and your needs. Both offer several benefits, but one can give you the results you’re seeking at a lower temperature.
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