The sauna and steam room are both heated rooms. While they do seem very similar, there are some differences between them such as the temperature and type of heat they use.
In this article, we’ll be going through both the sauna and steam room, the differences between them as well as the health benefits and potential side effects.
What is a sauna?
A sauna is similar to the steam room but it contains dry heat. The temperature is typically around 158-210 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity level between 10-20 per cent.
There are different types of sauna rooms, depending on how it’s heated, such as wood, electric and infrared.
What is a steam room?
The steam room is a heated room that is full of steam and moist heat. The steam is created by a generator filled with boiling water so that moisture remains in the air.
The temperature in the steam room is typically between 100-115 degrees. The humidity level is 100 per cent.
Many people go to the heated room for relaxation but it also comes with an array of health benefits.
After a workout, it’s common for people to experience muscle soreness. Heat can help with this and offer faster recovery. Going to the steam room can promote better blood flow to the muscles, which can offer some relief.
This brings us to the next benefit of improved circulation. The moist heat in steam rooms dilated the small blood vessels in the body. This then means that the blood can flow more efficiently around the body, therefore delivering oxygen better as well.
Being exposed to heat will open up your pores. It’ll assist in getting rid of the dirt and other toxins in the skin, so you can have clearer skin.
A major benefit of the heated room is that it is relaxing. Spending time in a sauna or steam room will allow you to decompress and recover. Most leave the sauna feeling better and relaxed than when they went in.
Health risks and side effects
While there are great benefits that come to using a sauna or steam room, there are also some potential side effects, especially for those with pre-exisiting health conditions.
For those who have low blood pressure or have suffered from a recent heart attack, it’s best to consult your doctor first. Also, people with kidney risk should take precautions at it could put them at a higher risk of dehydration. People who are pregnant or under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs should also avoid the sauna.
If you’re in the sauna and feel dizzy, light-headed, nauseated or develop a headache, leave the sauna immediately.
How to prepare for the sauna and steam room
Take a pre-sauna shower
Prior to using the sauna or the steam room, make sure you’ve washed down, especially after a workout.
Wear minimal or loose clothing
Wear loose-fiting clothes such as an oversized t shirt and shorts to a sauna or steam room. Aim for cotton clothing as this will help absorb the heat and allow your skin to breathe. Tight clothing may cause discomfort, not to mention, make the heat a bit more unmanageable.
Don’t wear shoes inside the sauna as well, especially outdoor shoes and always bring a towel.
Drink lots of water
Drink plenty of water as you’ll lose fluids from sweating. This will help prevent dehydration which is a very big possibility if you’re not adequately hydrated to begin with. You can also just add electrolytes as well for extra hydration.
Limit your time
If you’re new to using a sauna or steam room, then ease yourself into it. Start by spending a few minutes for the first to get used to it and then you can slowly increase the time spent each time. Don’t spend more than 20 minutes in there though at a time unless you’re using a sauna with a low heat temperature such as an infrared sauna.