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The Benefits of a Steam Room vs Sauna, Explained
Did you know that there are over two million saunas in Finland? Of course, you don’t have to be Finnish to enjoy a good sauna. There are facilities all over and you can even have a sauna in your home.
Along with being relaxing, saunas may even have health benefits. If so, how do these health benefits compare to those of steam rooms? This article will cover all the steam room vs sauna health benefits and deficits.
Read on to get a full guide to the pros and cons of steam rooms vs saunas.
What Are Saunas?
Saunas are enclosed rooms with wood lining that will heat usually via a stove or heated rocks. The heat in a sauna typically reaches around 160 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit with minimal humidity. There are also infrared saunas, but these don’t reach the same temperature levels as stove or rock saunas.
There are a lot of different options for saunas in terms of size, seating, and overall design. Different cultures may also have different approaches to a sauna. For example, Turkish-style saunas use more moisture than Finnish-style saunas.
Usually, you can find saunas in gyms, spas, and even in your neighbor’s home. You can also find them in locations all over the world.
What Are Steam Rooms?
Like saunas, steam rooms tend to be specially designated rooms. However, this doesn’t need to be the case. A bathroom can be turned into a steam room if a hot shower is left running.
Unlike saunas, though, steam rooms use wet heat rather than dry heat. Most will have a water-filled generator that pumps the humid heat into a room. You’ll often see water dripping on your skin and the walls as a result.
The resulting temperature is less than that of a sauna. It stays around 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Health Benefits and Risks of a Steam Room vs Sauna
Saunas and steam rooms are pretty similar when it comes to the specific health benefits that they offer. However, some small differences change what you gain from choosing saunas or steam rooms.
Benefits of a Sauna
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t use a sauna instead of other treatments. The benefits are based on scientific studies, but there hasn’t been too much research done yet on how a sauna affects the human body.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Temperature increases raise your heart rate and this can improve your circulation. Some experts have said that sitting in a sauna can be the same as walking on a treadmill. It’s no replacement for the benefits of exercise, but it can still provide some benefits.
Another circulatory system benefit that saunas can cause is lower blood pressure. Your blood pressure will initially go up but then it will fall back down.
Because of these improved cardiovascular health benefits, most sauna users have a lower risk of several diseases. These include a lower risk of strokes, dementia, and heart attacks.
A State of Relaxation
When your body heats up, your sympathetic nervous system and endocrine glands become more active to balance out the temperature of your body. This makes you feel more alert and relieves your pain. In addition, your muscles relax.
Once you soothe your body, you’re usually able to soothe your mind as well. This effect may continue long after you’ve exited the sauna. You may even get a better night’s sleep.
When a sauna relaxes your muscles, it also makes them less sore. This can be a great relief after you’ve had a harsh workout. It can also reduce any stiffness and tension in your joints.
In addition, people who have chronic pain conditions can experience some relief as well. These include musculoskeletal diseases such as arthritis. Experts have also found that lower back pain can also be less painful after a sauna session.
Risks of a Sauna
As beneficial as saunas are, they are not without risks. Limits to sauna sessions and the types of people that use saunas are encouraged by medical experts.
The amount of sweating that you do in a sauna can make you dehydrated. It is important, then, that you don’t spend too much time in a sauna.
You should also keep an eye out for some of the signs of dehydration. If you start feeling dizzy or lightheaded and you get a headache, you need to exit the sauna.
Saunas Worsen Some Health Conditions
The people who shouldn’t use saunas are in the list below. Experts recommend that these individuals not use saunas as a sauna visit can worsen certain health conditions.
- Pregnant women
- Asthmatics or those with breathing conditions
- Those with low or high blood pressure
- Mind-altering drug users
Benefits of a Steam Room
The health benefits that come from heat are pretty much the same between steam rooms and saunas. However, saunas do not offer the specific health benefits that come from steam.
Helps Lessen Acne
Warm humidity opens up your pores and causes the oil and dirt inside your pores to soften. You can then easily remove all that gunk after you wipe your face down. The sweat that your body produces can also wash all of the gunk out.
Keep in mind, though, that a steam room might not be a good idea if you have oily skin. A steam room can cause oily skin to become even more oily.
A room full of steam can help congested sinuses. When you inhale in a humid room, you take in some moisture with the air. This moisture can help loosen the mucus in your sinuses and cause them to clear completely.
However, it’s not a good idea to enter a public steam room when you’re completely sick. The germs can spread to other occupants of the steam room.
Risks of a Steam Room
Along with the heat, being in a room with high humidity can have a great number of risks. Moisture can bring other dangers.
Germs and Bacteria
Germs and bacteria like to breed in moist heat. For this reason, you mustn’t touch any of the moist surfaces. Sit on a towel and wear shower shoes while in the steam room.
The steam inside of a steam room will eventually turn into water and that will sit on the walls and floor of the steam room. You can slip on this and injure yourself. Be careful!
How to Use a Public Sauna and Steam Room
If you don’t have a personal sauna, you can use it however you want. If you’re going to a public sauna, however, there are some etiquette rules that you must follow.
The heat in a sauna can cause a lot of sweat, which can lead to you getting stinky. Be sure to take a shower before you enter the sauna.
Exit and Enter Quickly
A sauna stays hot because the heat stays in the room. To prevent a lot of heat from escaping, open the door quickly and close it quickly when you’re exiting or entering the sauna.
What to Wear or Not Wear
As far as the appropriate attire, this depends on the location. In some places, you can be completely nude. In others, people will prefer that you wear a towel or a bathing suit.
Cover the Bench
It’s considered unsanitary to let your bare skin touch the bench. You need to put a towel down on the bench or other seating and sit on that.
Don’t just adjust the thermostat or ladle water onto the hot rocks if you feel too hot or cold. Ask the other sauna occupants before adjusting the temperature in the sauna.
It’s never a good idea to employ any grooming methods in a sauna. This includes shaving, tweezing, hair brushing, and so on.
Keep Things Relaxed
The atmosphere needs to be relaxed in a sauna. Therefore it’s important to keep the conversation low and not engage in rowdy behavior.
Pick Up After Yourself
Saunas need to stay clean as well. Therefore, you must not leave anything behind such as hair ties.
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As you can see, in the steam room vs sauna war, what matters is that you use either wisely. You won’t experience very severe downsides as long as you listen to the experts and follow their recommendations. Also, remember to not use saunas or steam rooms instead of any other treatment that may be more beneficial.
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