Thank You for the articles on staying safe at the spa in regard to nail safety and avoiding colds. When it comes to saunas and steam rooms, is one better than the other?
Kelly R Chicago IL
First, it is important that you make sure that you do not have any contraindications that can prevent you from using either a sauna or steam room. Second, you need to consider the water that is being used to generate the steam in a steam room. Spas which uses distilled water or a reverse osmosis system is preferred. If the steam room does not use either of these, I personally would pass on the steam room due to the negative effects of chlorine in the water.
That being said, both saunas and steam baths have therapeutic benefits. They are good for blood circulation and can cleanse and rejuvenate the skin through heavy perspiration. They are good for easing muscle tension and promoting feelings of relaxation and well-being. For some individuals, it is just a general preference of which one feels more comfortable for them and which one they can stay in long enough to develop a good sweat.
Some people find the dry heat of the sauna to be uncomfortable to breathe. Those with respiratory problems like sinus congestion and asthma may prefer the moist heat of the steam bath. Steam inhalation is often used for treating bronchitis, sinusitis and allergies so people with these conditions may benefit from using steam rooms.
Benefits of Steam rooms ...
- Steam rooms feel hotter because your sweat does not evaporate and carry away heat.
- Some people feel that they sweat more in a steam room, but that is not true. It only appears that you sweat more because the sweat does not evaporate as it does in a sauna.
- If you have respiratory problems like sinus congestion or asthma, you might prefer the moist heat of a steam room. Steam inhalation is very effective against bronchitis, sinusitis and allergies.
- Steam relieves inflammation and congestion of the upper respiratory membranes.
- Steam relieves throat irritation by moistening the air.
- Steam relieves spasmodic breathing (asthma, croup).
- Steam loosens secretions and stimulates discharges of mucous from the throat and lungs.
- Steam relaxes muscles and relieves coughing.
- Steam keeps the mucous membranes from excessive drying.
- The greatest advantage to steam rooms is that the humidity levels in the air ensure that skin remains supple and hydrated throughout the steam session. In addition, beads of moisture coat the and prevent the body from losing heat through the process of evaporation. This is thought to accelerate the detoxification and healing processes which take place within the body when body.
Disadvantage of Steam Rooms
A possible downside to a steam room is that it may be a breeding ground for germs, mold and bacteria because of the warm, moist conditions. However, if the steam room is properly cleaned and disinfected this is not a concern.
The Benefits of Dry Saunas
- The main advantage to dry saunas is that that they can be set to high temperatures. Due to low humidity levels in the air, temperatures in dry saunas usually reach between 140°F to 190°F. This extreme heat induces sweating and causes the heart rates to rise substantially. This is believed to send metabolic levels into overdrive, thereby promoting both detoxification and weight loss.
- People who have unsuccessfully tried many diets often find success with far infrared saunas because they are able eliminate chemicals stored in the fat cells. This makes weight loss much easier.
- A Sauna assists in weight loss in three significant ways:
- It effectively reduces heavy metals which have been directly related to metabolic imbalances in the body causing poor digestion and weight gain.
- It decreases fat stored (lipophilic) toxins. Often weight loss cannot be accomplished unless these toxins are first removed.
- Although weight loss due to perspiration (water loss) is quickly regained, sending more blood to the capillaries and converting fats and carbohydrates results in as much as 600 calories burned during one short sauna session.
Disadvantage of Dry Sauna
- Many people simply find the extreme heat of dry saunas too much to bear and thus prefer the lower temperatures which are typical of steam rooms.
- The intense heat of a dry sauna may irritate the membranes of the nose and lungs and make it harder to breath.
I should note that when it comes to dry saunas, I tend to use the Infrared Saunas (available for home use in our spa shop) because infrared wavelengths have other beneficial properties. They lower lactic acid (the acid that accumulates and causes pain in muscles when you have overdone during exercising), stimulate endorphins or happy hormones of the brain, and kill organisms like bacteria and parasites. More important, they penetrate tissues, detoxify cells by vibrating ionic bonds, stop swelling, improve lymphatic flow and blood circulation, and attract calcium to cell membranes where it is needed for healing.
Infrared wavelengths also decrease the size of water clusters, giving them greater mobility and penetration in and out of body tissues. For it is when these hyperactive or energized water molecules moves in and out of cells that they also carry toxins that previously were stuck. FIR energy actually causes a resonance dance between the water and chemical molecules to mobilize and unite them.
Again, this is general information, but you should check with your doctor if you have any concerns.
Bottom-line, is look at what your concerns are and what you want to accomplish. If I have a cold I will uses the steam room (my home model with distilled water) to help with my respiration. If I want to detox, I may choose the Sauna, if I want to be able to breathe and work my fat, I will use my Infrared sauna where I can lay down with my head out so I can breathe normally without drying out my nose and melt the fat away.