Saunas and steam rooms are both proven ways to relax by embracing the healing power of Heat.
Warming up our body helps the muscles relax after a long day (or a workout) and also helps open the pores of the skin.
Steam rooms and saunas can also offer additional health benefits, but which should you choose?
If you are healthy and just want a relaxing dose of heat, a lot of it depends on whether you prefer dry heat (sauna) or moist moist heat (steam room).
If you have a health problem, however, one may serve you better than the other.
Saunas are generally hotter than steam rooms – they are heated to between 160 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit. However, since the heat is dry and the humidity is low, you might not notice how hot they really are.
Traditional saunas are usually made of wood and contain piles of heated stones that water is poured over to generate heat. This circulates a little moisture, but not a lot, as the sauna room is ventilated so that the moisture can escape. Some more modern saunas are heated by infrared light, so they can be drier.
According to the authors of a 2011 study published in the journal Alternative Medicine Journal:
“Saunotherapy has been used for hundreds of years in the Scandinavian region as a standard health activity. Studies document the effectiveness of sauna therapy for people with hypertension, congestive heart failure and for post-myocardial infarction care. Some people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic fatigue, chronic pain, or addictions also find it beneficial.
The authors add:
“The existing evidence supports the use of saunas as a component of depuration (purification or cleansing) protocols for environmentally induced illnesses.”
The authors of a study from earlier this year, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, wrote:
“Analyzing data from the Finnish Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Study, the authors found that men who used saunas more frequently (4-7 times per week) actually lived longer than users once per week. week. While it is not clear why men who used saunas more frequently had greater longevity (whether it was time spent in the hot room, time to relax, the hobbies of a lifetime that allowed for more time). relaxation, or the camaraderie of the sauna), clearly the time spent in the sauna is time well spent.
Some other traditional uses of the sauna include improving circulation to the skin and relieve insomnia, as well as the relaxation of tight muscles. For people whose health concerns are sensitive to humidity, the dry heat of a sauna may be a better choice than the moist heat of a steam room.
A few drawbacks: A rapid rise in body temperature can lead to heart complications in some people. Therefore, if you are suffering from heart disease, be sure to consult a doctor before trying a sauna. In addition, a sauna can dry out sensitive skin.
Unlike saunas, which are traditionally made of wood, steam rooms are usually constructed of tile or some other airtight material that is not affected by high humidity. These rooms are heated to around 114 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and since they don’t have ventilation to let the air out, they stay at nearly 100 percent humidity.
A typical feature of a steam room is condensation on the walls, and these rooms can feel hotter than saunas (even if the temperature is lower) and will cause heavy sweating.
In the review Dermascope, Dr Reinhard R. Bergel of HEAT Spa Kur Therapy Development, Inc. writes:
“As a supportive activity, the steam bath is particularly recommended to relieve ailments … Bronchial asthma, bronchitis, catarrh of the upper respiratory tract, cough, hoarseness, expectoration (especially with the help of essential oils), ailments non-acute and restricted rheumatic or painful movement of the joints.
Dr Bergel also mentions the “very beneficial effect on the skin” of a steam bath and states that these chambers have the advantage “of opening the pores, removing dead skin and impurities”.
People who have a cold, sinus congestion, or allergies may find steam rooms especially helpful. Moist heat is an ancient remedy for removing mucus in many seasonal ailments, and the heat can also be very soothing. The intense sweating you experience in a steam room is also a great way to detoxify the skin and can lead to a clearer complexion.
One downside to a steam room is that it is very easy to get dehydrated, so you will need to make sure you have enough the water with you (this is also important in a sauna, but the sweat-inducing nature of a steam room makes it potentially even more critical).
In addition, the humid environment of a hammam can promote the growth of certain bacteria and fungi, so make sure that the hammam you visit is properly cleaned and that hygiene practices are followed.
Sweat lodges: an ancestral practice to be adopted with caution
In his book, The Native American sweat lodge, Joseph Bruchac writes:
“The sweat lodge has many functions. It cleanses and heals the body. It heals the mind, bringing clarity. It is a place of ordeal, offering a rite of passage where a participant can demonstrate endurance, strength and courage.
The use of sweat lodges is an ancient tradition in a number of Native American tribes, including the Lakota and Abenaki tribes. Sweat lodges are also used by other cultures, including traditional cultures in parts of Australia. Nowadays, people from all over the world visit these sweat lodges in the hope of both healing and experiencing these traditions.
However, despite the mysticism and healing associated with this practice, sweat lodges come with risks and safety precautions should be taken when visiting.
A 2005 study published in the American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology relays the story of a 37-year-old man who died in a sweat lodge ceremony in the Australian outback due to heat exposure and dehydration. The authors of the study wrote:
“Participants in this type of activity should be aware of the types of medical problems that can arise. People with significant cardiovascular disease, those taking certain medications predisposing to hyperthermia, or those who have consumed large amounts of alcohol should not enter sweat lodges.
If you plan to visit a sweat lodge, which is an ancient form of steam room, make sure you get medical clearance first and don’t stay there longer than your body feels comfortable. Your health and safety are of the utmost importance.
Some precautions for both saunas and hammams
- Do not visit a sauna or steam room if you are pregnant, as they can harm the developing fetus.
- Do not visit a sauna or steam room if you have consumed alcohol.
- Drink lots of water, dehydration is dangerous!
- Remember, the higher you sit in a sauna or steam room, the hotter it will be, as the heat rises.
- Get out of the sauna or steam room immediately if you feel dizzy, sick, or uncomfortable in any way. Listen to your body and don’t overdo it.
- If you are taking medication, be sure to get the go-ahead from your healthcare professional before using a sauna or steam room.
There is no fixed length of time you must stay in a sauna or steam room – it varies depending on individual health. One method of using these rooms is to perform rounds: for example, three rounds of 5 to 10 minutes per day. Some people stay longer, but always listen to your body, and it may be a good idea to bring a friend with you, for added safety.
Even if you are generally in good health, it is still a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional you trust before using a sauna or steam room, to determine how long you can stay safe and secure. to discuss the benefits and risks to your individual health.