We humans have a penchant for subjecting ourselves to extreme heat for short periods. Why? Well, for one it feels great! When it comes to relaxation and rejuvenation after a long haul flight, say, saunas and steam rooms are hard to beat. But what are the differences between the two? And is one better than the other…?
Saunas are typically dry (though with some you can up the humidity by throwing water on the hot stones), favouring high temperatures (usually between 160-200°F) to create a dry heat environment that promotes sweating, which can help detoxify the body and improve circulation. If you love intense heat and a deep sweat, saunas are for you. They can also ease muscle tension and relieve stress.
On the other hand, steam rooms offer a moist, humid heat, typically set around 110-120°F. This humidity can be gentler on the respiratory system and is often preferred by individuals with respiratory issues. Steam rooms can promote relaxation too of course; they open up airways, and provide a soothing experience for the skin.
In reality, saunas and steam rooms offer similar potential health benefits, so choosing between the two is largely down to personal preference. Do you enjoy dry, intense heat and deep sweating? A sauna is probably your go-to. If you prefer a milder, more humid setting that’s gentler on your respiratory system, hit the steam room!
Whatever your personal preference, sauna or steam, regular sessions in either have proven benefits, contributing to improved well-being & relaxation, increasing metabolism and cardiovascular function as well as improving immune system function and sleep. Always remember to stay hydrated during and after your heat therapy session, know your limits and don’t wear metal glasses in there!