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Sauna vs. Steam Room

 

You’ve just put in a killer workout and you are feeling like a million pressed Euros but you think to yourself “what is going to put the cherry on top?” How about stripping down to your birthday suit and jumping into the sauna or the steam room to unwind and relax? Sounds great!

There are few things more satisfying in life but have you ever wondered why? What are the benefits of a sauna or steam room? So many of us sit in these heated rooms never questioning or knowing how exactly doing so benefits our health and physical performance.

 

Because we love our audience so much, we at SAX have taken the time to find out what exactly is happening to our bodies when we spend time in the sauna or steam room.

 

Sauna vs. Steam Room

 

What is the difference?

 

This is an important question because it helps us decide which one of these alternatives might suit us best:

 

The difference between a sauna and a steam room can be summed up simply as dry vs. wet. Saunas provide dry heat, while steam rooms generate moist heat.

 

A sauna is typically a room heated to between 70° to 100° Celsius or 158° to 212° Fahrenheit.  The common types of sauna are a wood-burning saunas, electric saunas, wooden manufactured sauna rooms, smoked saunas and infrared sauna. Most people are unaware of the different variations as local health and wellness facilities typically use the wood-burning sauna. The moisture in a sauna is dependent on the type of sauna you choose to use but generally you would experience moisture as low as 10% and as high as 60%. Some saunas allow you to increase the humidity by pouring water on the rocks situated above the stove to generate heat and create steam.

 

Steam rooms are usually tiled rooms that are airtight in order to trap all the moisture created by the steam generator. When you enter a steam room, you will immediately notice the presence of steam both on your skin (dampness) and a thickness in the air. Steam rooms can accommodate up to 95 to 100% humidity. The temperature in a steam room may range from 37 to 49 degrees Celsius or 100 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, but it may feel warmer because of the high humidity. To increase the experience of the steam room, sit higher up or stand. Steam rises so the heat and steam is more intense at the top of the room and the opposite applies when sitting lower.

 

Health Benefits

 

Steam Room

 

- Refreshes the skin

- Muscle soreness.

- More effective than dry heat (sauna) at relieving delayed onset muscle soreness (the soreness that occurs in the days after the actual workout).

- Reduces stress.

- Increases hair growth and health.

- Detoxes

- Opens your pours (Which improves skin and decreases black and white heads.)

- Improves lung capacity

 

Sauna

 

- Modest impact on chronic conditions (high blood pressure, type diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis etc.).

- Increased sauna use (3 -7 times a week) was linked with a reduced risk of fatal cardiovascular-related diseases.

- Soothes and relaxes the muscles.

- Detoxes

- Opens your pours (Which improves skin and decreases black and white heads.)

- Improves lung capacity

- Drys out the skin which is beneficial for people with oily skin that causes acne.

- Increases vascularity and tightens skin

 

Health Risks

 

Steam Room

 

- Drives skin temperature up increasing core temperature.

- Some people may experience dizziness, nausea and in severe cases, fainting.

- Exercising in the steam room will increase core temperature

- Pregnant women should avoid steam rooms

 

 

NB: It is important to note that because of the nature of the steam room being damp it means that it is the perfect environment for bacteria and other impurities to thrive and therefore hygiene is of extra importance. Use the water pipe located in the steam room to wash the area you are to be seated on before you sit down, and use a towel or wear underwear. Never let your butt cheeks touch the tile , its just not cool. If you have air bound or contagious sickness or skin diseases, do not enter steam room to avoid spreading onto others.

 

Sauna

 

It is important to note that you cannot put water or oil over the rocks unless it stipulated that it is safe to do as this is a fire hazard. Also large amounts of liquid poured over the elements can damage the stove. If you find that the sauna you’re in isn’t warm enough it helps to stay in the sauna for longer periods. If you are in your local health and wellness centre you can enquire with a staff member if it safe to pour a little bit of water over the rocks. Always carry a towel as some steam rooms are very hot and touching the walls might burn you. Pay close attention to the colour of the wood. Due to of the nature of the steam room the wood might begin to rot. So if you notice that there black marks on the wood be careful as it might break. Inhaling the fumes caused by rotting wood is dangerous to your health. Falling or fainting in the sauna is extremely dangerous as there is typically an open stove with extremely hot elements. So to avoid serious injury keep a safe distance from the stove.

 

At the end of the day the choice between the two will come down to preference and what your goals/needs require. After considering the above but it must be noted that the steam room visit may feel more intense than the sauna visit. Both experiences are likely to help reduce stress and increase the enjoyment of the gym. The sauna and steam room are not a quick fix to weight-loss and it is important to use the either in addition to exercise rather than a replacement for exercise.

 

Always remember that hygiene is of utmost importance in these facilities, many things such as colds/flus, tuberculosis , athletes foot, and other fungus related diseases have been known to spread in saunas and steam rooms. Be a good person and shower before you jump into the sauna\steam room to wash off any dirt and sweat. Always carry a towel and pay attention to whats happening around you to avoid injury and potential loss of life. If at any point you feel uneasy about anything or someone might need assistance press the panic button. All saunas and steam rooms have one located near by. Try to avoid going in when the facilities are empty, especially after an intense workout because fainting in saunas and steam rooms is a common thing.

 

Special tips: Drink lots of liquids as your body loses a lot of water when you’re inside the sauna/steam room. And if you’re feeling like a special treat rub some eucalyptus oil on your chest to add that extra relaxing feeling and to open up your lungs. (Can be purchased at Dischem)

 

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