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Article: Steam Rooms vs. Saunas: Unveiling the Health Benefits of Steam and Sauna

Steam Rooms vs. Saunas: Unveiling the Health Benefits of Steam and Sauna

Steam Rooms vs. Saunas: Unveiling the Health Benefits of Steam and Sauna

Written by Chris Lang

If you want to help boost your health safely and efficiently, steam saunas can be an excellent choice. Regular steam sauna therapy can contribute to your well-being in many ways, such as strengthening your immune system, speeding up weight loss, and supporting optimal cardiovascular health.

This article will take a closer look at different steam sauna benefits. You’ll also learn how to incorporate steam sauna bathing into your routine.

Understanding Saunas and Steam Rooms

Before we delve into the benefits of sauna bathing, you should first understand the two most common concepts related to this topic: saunas and steam rooms.

Saunas are rooms with higher temperatures that promote sweating by generating dry heat. These rooms traditionally use heated rocks to distribute the heat, but don’t use much water.

On the other hand, steam rooms are also a room with a higher temperature, but they generate steam through boiling water.

Besides the fact that a sauna uses dry heat, saunas are also slightly hotter than steam rooms. The average temperature of saunas is approximately 150-190 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas steam rooms rarely exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then there’s the humidity factor. In general, saunas maintain about 10% air humidity. You (or the sauna staff) can sprinkle some water onto hot rocks to provide some steam, but even so, humidity usually stays below 60%.

In contrast, steam rooms are 100% humid.

The varying heat and humidity create different experiences. Dry saunas stimulate perspiration to a greater extent, whereas steam rooms hinder sweating. It may feel like you’re sweating more in a steam room, but this can be attributed to the droplets of condensed water landing on your body rather than beads of sweat.

Health Benefits of Sauna

The list of ways sauna treatment can improve your well-being is vast. But for the sake of simplicity, we won’t cover something like 10 benefits of sauna sessions or an even larger number. Instead, here are just the five most important health gains:

Benefit #1 – Improved Heart Health

Dry saunas are popular for several reasons. The main one might be that they can improve your cardiovascular health, as shown by a 2018 study. The research indicates that regular sauna bathing can positively impact your arteries, heart cells, and the rest of the system.

For instance, people who are recuperating from heart failure may consider sauna therapy to alleviate the residual symptoms and make the heart more resilient. Over time, this can strengthen the cardiac muscle and prepare it for more intense exercise.

Another way a sauna can benefit your cardiovascular health is through enhanced blood flow. Namely, regular sauna treatments (a few times per week) can increase circulation, resulting in more blood that travels back to your heart. Optimal blood flow is essential on many levels, but it’s instrumental when treating coronary artery disease.

Additionally, spending time in a sauna can be good if you have elevated blood pressure. The improved circulation alleviates the stress on your blood vessels, allowing blood to travel more easily. Not only that, but better circulation through sauna bathing can lower the risk of hypertension.

Finally, people who attend saunas regularly seem to have a better cholesterol profile than those who don’t.

Benefit #2 – Helping Weight Loss

When you step on a scale after an intense sauna session, you may notice you’re slightly lighter. The drop can be attributed to the loss of water through sweating. This is short-term weight loss (as you’ll rehydrate and regain that water quickly), but is there any merit to using saunas for long-term slimming down?

According to this 2019 study, there might be. It shows that sauna goers tend to expend more calories overall, which is the main driver of losing weight.

When you think about it, going to a sauna to lose weight may make sense. By exposing your body to high heat, you force it to adapt to the piping-hot environment. As a result, the organism has to work twice as hard to cool down, which can result in more calories burned.

Hopefully, future studies will prove the efficacy of saunas for weight loss beyond any doubt. In the meantime, if you’re in need of a good old sweat session without going to the gym, Komowa Wellness is here for you. Our modern saunas are comfortable and super-effective, so check out our products if you’re ready to burn off extra calories at home.

Benefit #3 – Lowering Stress

The go-to solution for stress most people resort to is over-the-counter drugs. There might be a safer alternative in the form of dry saunas, and many studies indicate the effectiveness of saunas as stress busters.

Take this 2018 systematic review of sauna research as an example. They established a potential link between regular sauna sessions and lower stress. This can be explained by the assumption that saunas help decrease cortisol (aka stress hormone) and boost serotonin (aka happiness hormone) levels. This may reveal why most people feel relieved and less anxious after sauna bathing.

Benefit #4 – Stronger Immune System

The systematic review cited above didn’t just discover a potential link between saunas and lower stress. It also hinted that saunas can dramatically improve your ability to combat illnesses. The reason is simple – the heat stress that your body undergoes when exposed to high temperatures boosts white cell production. These strengthen your immune system and make you more resilient to various conditions.

Benefit #5 – Cleansing Skin

The systematic review by Joy Hussain and Marc Cohen is comprehensive, so it didn’t focus on stress relief and your immune system only. The authors also gauged the health benefits of saunas related to improved skin.

And the results look promising. Sauna therapy seems to be good for your skin health because it can cleanse it. When you start sweating, your body sheds dead cells and replaces them with new ones. On top of that, perspiration tends to remove bacteria from different skin layers.

Health Benefits of Steam Rooms

Saunas offer many health benefits, but steam rooms can’t be overlooked either. Although they’re not as good as saunas when it comes to, say, cardiovascular health, they can help you in some other ways.

For example, they’re great for muscle recovery after intense workouts. That’s because they can elevate growth hormone levels, which is key to muscle growth and repair.

Furthermore, the higher humidity of steam rooms can work wonders for respiratory issues. The moisture helps break up mucus to relieve breathing difficulties.

Sauna vs. Steam Room: Which Is Right for You?

The right option depends on your needs. If you wish to enhance your cardiovascular system, saunas are the better choice. If your goal is to get rid of mucus build-up and clear your passageways, steam rooms can be more effective.

Risks and Considerations

There’s no denying the potential of sauna therapy in its potential to alleviate certain conditions. However, this doesn’t mean you should start your treatment recklessly, especially if you have:

  • High blood pressure

  • Eczema or other skin issues

  • Fever

  • Pregnancy

These don’t automatically ban you from saunas, but you should be extra careful if you want to step inside. Your best bet is to consult your doctor before your first session and provide them with feedback after the therapy.

Why is proper sauna bathing so important? Well, to answer that, you should view saunas as any other form of therapy. If you go overboard, you risk jeopardizing your well-being in certain ways:

  • Burns – The heat of a sauna can spell trouble if you spend too much time inside. Irritation is the first sign that something’s wrong. If you notice it, immediately get out to avoid blisters or even burns.

  • Dehydration – As previously discussed, the humidity and head can lead to profuse sweating. But sweat isn’t the only thing that escapes your body in the process. You also lose valuable electrolytes and fluids. If it gets out of hand, you risk dehydration.

  • Chest pain – If you have a cardiovascular condition, your blood pressure and heart rate may increase rapidly in a sauna and worsen your symptoms. These problems usually manifest as chest pain.

How to Use a Sauna or Steam Room Effectively

Thankfully, you can avoid the risks associated with spending time in a sauna and maximize the health benefits for your body. Besides consulting your physician, you should also follow these tips to maintain safety:

  • Stay hydrated – Drink a lot of water before and after a sauna to remain hydrated (at least a glass). Also, avoid drinking alcohol to further reduce the risk of hydration.

  • Avoid eating large meals before a sauna – After consuming copious amounts of food, your body temperature tends to rise slightly. It’ll keep rising when you enter a sauna and can reach dangerous levels. So, wait at least two hours after a large meal before starting your session.

  • Take it easy initially – Chances are, you might not be used to using steam rooms and saunas. If so, consider a shorter session early on. Rather than spend a full 20-25 minutes inside, only do about 10-15 minutes for the first few weeks to help your body acclimate to higher temperatures and humidity.

  • Take breaks – If you can no longer withstand the heat, but you’ve only been two or three minutes in a sauna, feel free to take a break. Spend a few seconds outside before returning to limit the shock and ensure you spend enough time inside for health benefits to kick in.

  • Let your temperature normalize naturally – Some suggest taking a cold bath after a sauna to lower your body temperature, but this can be bad for your heart. Instead, let your organism gradually return to normal.

Traditional vs. Infrared Saunas

Not every sauna is the same. There are several sub-types of saunas, the most famous of which might be infrared saunas. The difference is that traditional saunas heat the environment to increase your body temperature, whereas infrared saunas emit waves that penetrate your skin and raise your temperature.

Since they work differently, infrared saunas also have slightly different uses:

  • Better muscle recovery due to deep infrared wave penetration

  • Improved detoxification

  • Higher collagen production

Testimonials and Personal Experiences

Numerous people have experienced the positive effects of saunas. Alyssa Hui is one of them.

Before the treatment, Alyssa had problems with muscle pain, stress control, and skin issues. But she felt rejuvenated after going to a sauna for 15 minutes every day for two weeks. She noticed she was less sore after her workouts, her skin was better-looking, and she felt calmer.

Reap the Benefits of Premium Sauna Bathing

You can gain a lot from a high-quality sauna session. Use your sauna correctly, and you might just improve your well-being in a number of ways. From better cardiovascular health to cleaner skin, many improvements can come your way.

And whenever you want to fine-tune your sauna experience, just reach out. Here at Komowa Wellness, we provide personalized sauna solutions to make at-home sauna experience superb and provide the most health benefits.

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