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Saunas and steam rooms have been around for centuries. It’s a nice way to relax and it has tons of health benefits for you. Many people find themselves confused by the sauna vs steam room debate.
What’s the difference?
Which one is better for you?
Read more to find out!
Sauna Health Benefits
People love going to saunas – it’s an ancient tradition, after all. The primary reason to go to a sauna is to relax and enjoy a stress free environment. Saunas are available across the globe in spas and sometimes even at homes.
But aside from relaxation, what are the main reasons to use saunas?
The minute you walk into a sauna, you will be able to feel that your blood circulation has improved. The heat will cause your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels will become wider, allowing blood to circulate more freely.
By improving your circulation, you will also be improving some health issues like muscle soreness or joint movement and pain.
Helping cardiovascular diseases
A research study was conducted on men in Finland with cardiovascular diseases and their use of sauna in relation to improvement of these diseases. Those who used sauna more often were less likely to die from any cardiovascular disease. Their illnesses improved too.
This happened because sauna simulates the effect of having an exercise. As mentioned, the blood circulation is better, improving heart function. It’s not a replacement for exercise but as a supplement it really helps.
Weight loss aid
There are many ways to lose weight nowadays but sauna can help too. Because it simulates the exercise experience. Being in sauna for 20 minutes can help you lose 500 calories. This doesn’t replace exercise and healthy diet but it does provide fantastic supplement to your efforts.
Most people don’t sweat actively every day because of their sedentary jobs, use of vehicles and elevators for movement and so on. However, sauna provides a great place to sweat it out and flush those toxins straight out of your body. Detoxification fasts and similar things may be a fad but people really do, scientifically proven, expel toxins through sweat.
When you go to a sauna, you go primarily to relax. For one, you are choosing self-care and the moment you walk into a sauna your mind goes straight to that mode. All distractions are thrown out. You will also release endorphins which are the feel-good chemicals. You can also go with friends and further reap benefits of socializing as a therapy.
Steam Room Benefits
Steam rooms are spaces with steam – that much you know. The temperature of the steam varies and you have probably seen them all over your gym and other places. The unique thing about steam rooms is that it bases most of its benefits not on heat, but on humidity.
A study concluded that sitting in a steam room can improve your cardiovascular health through moist heat. This is especially true in extremities and for healing the heart tissue.
Lower blood pressure
When in a steam room, your body will produce hormones that regulate blood pressure. This is one of the reasons why you will feel relaxed.
Reducing stress levels
Being in a steam room means that you will produce less cortisol which affects your stress levels. This is another reason you will feel more relaxed and in control.
Steam rooms will create an environment that encourages deep breathing which means that it has the power to clear congestion in your lungs and sinuses. The therapy with steam is a well-known way to treat colds, even at home. However, steam rooms are even better.
It improves the health of your skin
Being exposed to steam makes you sweat and sweating expels all of those harmful toxins from your skin. Steam opens up your pores and helps release dirt and dead skin cells clogging your skin.
Helps in recovery after a workout
The soreness in your muscles can go away or be relieved when you use heat therapy. It works better and faster than dry heat.
It can help with joint movement
If you use a steam room before a workout, it will help you have improved joint movement and thus prevent any injuries.
Steam rooms increase the heart rate which means that you will lose calories while being in the steam room. This works especially well after a workout.
Improves the immune system
Steam rooms are a form of hydrotherapy which is known to boost immunity.
Is the Steam Room or Sauna Best for Weight Loss?
When trying to lose weight, you're often on the lookout for weight loss practices that work best for your body. No one loses the weight in the same way and this is precisely why this is so important.
Steam and sauna rooms work in a similar way and offer similar benefits.
However, which is the best one for weight loss?
Well, both saunas and steam rooms will increase your heart rate through heat and help you lose calories. Neither should be used as a sole tool in weight loss, but rather as supplements. For instance, after a workout to prolong the calorie loss or as a relaxation technique after workouts.
Now, an important thing to know about is water weight. This is the weight that makes your scale fluctuate every day for about 2 or 4 pounds. Most quick weight loss tips and scams target this weight.
However, if you really want to lose weight, you need more wholesome life changes and methods.
But to lose water weight, you only need to:
- Drink more water (may sound counterintuitive, but it helps your body stop retaining excess water)
- Sweat more
- Eat less sodium
Do this for a day or two and your scale will go down by at least 2 pounds. Note the sweating – this is what saunas and steam rooms both make you do.
The weight will come right back as soon as you drink more water.
Now, a sauna can help you burn calories quickly. The heat may also penetrate to the fat cells and improve blood flow that reaches them which will reduce the appearance of these fat cells.
Both sauna and steam rooms help you relax which is an important piece of the puzzle for any stress-eater. This means that your sleep will improve, helping you lose even more weight.
Steam rooms give you a boost for your workout by improving joint movement and after a workout by healing sore muscles.
So, both steam rooms and saunas can really help you in your weight loss journey. However, keep in mind that these methods are merely supplemental and in no way recommended to be used as stand-alone tools for weight loss.
Safe Time Limits for Sauna Vs Steam Room
Hearing about the amazing calorie loss, some people would sit in a steam room or a sauna all day. However, this is not recommended, no matter how much you think you can handle it.
Generally, you shouldn’t stay in a sauna more than for 12 to 20 minutes. Your body will need to cool down for at least 20 minutes before going in again. And even that is not recommended. Otherwise, you could get a heat stroke or faint.
Keep in mind that the heat will be much stronger on higher benches and that you should sit on lower benches if you want less heat. Move gradually, as you learn to handle it. Leave the sauna after the 20 minutes are up and spend some time taking in the fresh air, showering and hydrating.
If you feel that the sauna is too much for you sooner than those 12 or 20 minutes are up, listen to your body and leave. You might feel:
- Tired or fatigued
- Simply uncomfortable
These are all signals that you should leave.
Generally, the same rules apply to steam rooms as well. However, you might be able to stay in a steam room for a bit longer because of the humidity, which is lacking in the sauna. Your body will also take steam rooms more easily than the sauna.
Sauna vs Steam Room – What You Should Do Before and After
The main difference between steam rooms and saunas is that saunas don’t have any humidity while steam rooms do. While a sauna would be at 160 degrees Fahrenheit or higher with 5 to 30% humidity, a steam room operates at lower temperatures but 100% humidity.
This means that you should aim to start with a sauna and then move to the steam room which is a bit more relaxing.
They provide the same benefits, essentially. The heat is there as a main role in providing all of the health benefits.
Try both of these to see which one suits you the best. You might like one more than the other and then end up going there more or going solely to one of these places. Some people enjoy the drying effect of sauna after they’ve been in a steam room. Others prefer to go to sauna first and then sweat in the steam room. Some of us only like do one or the other. In the end, it’s all up to your personal preference.
Do you prefer to sweat it out in the steam room or the dry heat of the sauna? Feel free to share your thoughts down below!