Steam Room vs. Saunas
Steam rooms and saunas are similar. A sauna uses dry heat and is generally hotter than a steam room. Saunas are typically kept at around 160 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit, but steam rooms are cooler. They are usually around 110 to 120 degrees F. Both encourage sitting in the heat as a form of recovery.
A sauna can help relax your sore muscles. It can also help with heart health and circulation. However, the humidity from the steam might have additional benefits for your body.
Saunas and steam rooms are often found in gyms and spas. Some people even have them in their homes. A sauna usually uses hot rocks, a stove, or an electric heater to heat the room with wood paneling to keep the heat in. This usually means it has to be a special room.
You can turn your bathroom into a makeshift steam room by running a hot shower and letting the steam fill the room.
Health Benefits of Steam Rooms
Steam bathing is a very old practice used by many cultures in different countries. The ancient Greeks and Romans regularly used steam bathing and hot springs. Indigenous peoples also used steam and sweating as health practices. Today, steam therapy and sauna therapy are popular in Finland.
Steam rooms have specific health benefits. These include:
- Clearing congestion
- Improving skin health
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving circulation
- Easing bronchitis symptoms
- Workout recovery
- Lowering joint stiffness
Congestion. Steam loosens mucus and phlegm. This can help you blow your nose better and clear congestion. It can be useful during allergy season or when you have a cough or cold. A steamy shower is especially helpful for children, rather than using a bowl of steam that can cause scalding.
Improving skin health. Steam opens your pores and cleanses your skin. It can help loosen any dirt and debris buildup, which can help improve the appearance of your skin.
Bronchitis. Inhaling steam can loosen phlegm. It can also help reduce breathing troubles during bronchitis.
Workout recovery. Sore muscles are a side effect of workouts. Moist heat can help relieve pain and lower muscle damage. Steam rooms might offer some relief by increasing blood flow to muscles.
Experts used to think that these heated rooms only moved blood to the skin. However, they also shift blood from your core into your muscles. More blood flow might help wash away the waste products your body produces during exercise that can cause muscle damage.
Stiff joints. Because heat can increase blood flow, sitting in a steam room can help loosen up your joints and relieve stiffness. This is similar to warming up before your workout. Dilating your blood vessels allows more blood, nutrients, and oxygen to be delivered to any injured sites. Better circulation means loosened muscles and joints.