Both saunas and steam rooms can provide a great way to relax and unwind. Which is best?
More people are turning to steam rooms and saunas for relaxation and as a means to “detoxify”. Both steam rooms and saunas have their proponents with each arguing one is better than the other. When it comes to the sauna vs. steam room debate, which is the best choice?
Can saunas or steam rooms detoxify?
First of all, neither saunas nor steam rooms are capable of detoxifying or removing toxins from the body. Although the high heat from both may cause you to sweat, there’s no evidence that actual toxins are being lost through the surface of the skin. Although toxins aren’t being lost, you will certainly lose water in this high heat environment which can cause you to become dehydrated particularly if you don’t drink water before and after a session.
Do saunas and steam rooms promote weight loss?
The other widely held myth about the sauna vs. steam room issue is that both will cause you to lose weight. Although spending time in a hot environment can cause temporary weight loss due to dehydration, once you start drinking liquids again your weight will return to its previous value. No actual fat loss will have taken place. Unfortunately, the kind of sweating you do in a sauna won’t have the same weight loss effect as regular sessions on the treadmill or exercise bike.
Sauna vs. steam room: What’s the difference?
When it comes to the sauna vs. steam room, the major difference is that the sauna provides predominantly dry heat with interior temperatures reaching up to 200 degrees Farenheit. In contrast, a steam room gives off moist heat with lower temperatures of around 100-120 degrees Farenheit. In general, you’re going to sweat more when sitting in a steam room than a sauna since the high humidity in the steam room prevents evaporation of sweat. Steam rooms are also more likely to be a source of bacteria and fungi as the moist conditions provide a good breeding ground for these pests.
What benefits do they have?
Both the sauna and the steam room can provide a way to relax and unwind and may also be beneficial if you suffer from sore muscles or muscle strain related to exercise. Both should be avoided if you’re pregnant or have a history of heart disease or high blood pressure. In fact, it’s best to check with your doctor before exposing yourself to the high temperatures of a sauna or steam room.
The bottom line
When it comes to the sauna vs. steam room debate, which should you choose? The reality is that one is probably not better than the other and you should choose the one that relaxes you the most. If you use either, particularly the steam room, cover your feet with flip-flops to avoid exposure to bacteria or fungi. Always bring along bottles of water to avoid dehydration and, most of all, close your eyes and relax. This is your much deserved chance to unwind.