Sauna or Steam Room
You may have heard discussion around the benefits of the sauna and the steam room, but is one better for you than another? There is only so much time in the day to spend at the gym, so we want to be sure to get the most out of what we do in the least amount of time.
Saunas have been around for thousands of years. Finland has a sauna tradition that has been around for two thousand years strong, and many attribute their endurance and longevity to the time they spend in the sauna.
Steamroom or Sauna- Which is Better?
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Saunas and steam rooms are touted to induce mental and physical relaxation, and both induce large amounts of sweating, which has health benefits such as releasing toxins from the body. So where does the difference lie?
Saunas are dry heat whereas steam rooms are at 100% humidity. One of the biggest differences has to do with temperature – when a room is humid we feel as though it is hotter than it actually is. Due to this, saunas are able to be kept at a much higher temperature than steam rooms. Saunas range from 160 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, wheres steam rooms are at 110 to 120.
In order to understand how these differences would lead to the best option of the two, we must first understand the benefits of both saunas and steam rooms.
Benefit 1: Increased blood flow
Blood vessels enlarge when your body temperature rises, allowing increased delivery of oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. After particularly vigorous exercise, try to get 15-30 minutes in the sauna or steam room to reap the benefits of this increased nutrient and oxygen delivery to your muscles. The increased blood flow allows an acceleration of tissue repair post workout. The faster you heal the better you feel and more able you are to take your next workout to a higher level.
Benefit 2: Increased metabolism and physical endurance
Increase the temperature and you will increase your metabolism, which is simply how quickly your body burns calories, due to this heat. Your body works harder to try and keep itself cool, thereby burning calories at a higher rate.
Benefit 3: Inflammation
Exposure to the high heat results in a release of noradrenaline, adrenaline and cortisol, which all have anti-inflammatory properties. This can help in mobility and pain, temporarily relieving stiffness post workout. Many people suffering with arthritis have reported relief after spending time in the sauna or steam room.
Benefit 4: Sweating
Sweating helps to lower blood pressure by secreting salts, detoxify by expelling toxins through our pores and helps to increase caloric expenditure.
Benefit 5: Mood
We are all familiar with the pleasant mood that you feel after going to the sauna or steam room. People report feeling less anxiety, increased relaxation, improved general mood and even increased alertness after trips to the sauna and steamroom. Why does this happen?
1. Livestrong.com: Sauna vs. Steam Room
2. Livestrong.com: Benefits of Using a Steam Room After Workout
3. coon, G. S., Hopkins, W. G., Mayhew, S. & Cotter, J. D. Effect of post-exercise sauna bathing on the endurance performance of competitive male runners. Journal of science and medicine in sport / Sports Medicine Australia 10, 259-262, doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2006.06.009 (2007).
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4. Finnleo – Pure Sauna: Sauna and Arthritis
5. Fitday.com: 3 benefits of sweating
6. New Scientist: Saunas Could Heal Your Mood and Your Heart
7. Effects of Waon therapy on chronic fatigue syndrome: a pilot study
8. Go Ask Alice: Benefits of Sauna