Sauna vs. Steam Room and How to Sauna

March 17th, 2009

 

My gym has both a sauna and a steam room. Which is better?

Both saunas and steam rooms are used to eliminate toxins and cleanse the pores and skin through sweat, ease joint pain, improve circulation, and promote relaxation and well being.

The difference is that the sauna uses dry heat while the steam room uses humidity. Sauna temperatures are much higher than steam rooms – sauna temps are around 175°F to 210°F (80°C to 100°C), highly humid temperatures in a steam bath are usually around 105°F (40°C).

Which is better is simply a matter of preference. The hot, dry air in a sauna can be hard for some people to breathe. People with respiratory problems or illnesses my prefer the humid air of steam rooms to the hotter, dryer air of the sauna.

How to Sauna
I personally love to relax in the sauna. Someday, my dream home will have a sauna. For now, I’ll have to use the one at the gym.

Start off with a warm shower to gradually raise your body temperature. Enter the sauna – laying vertical in the nude is ideal, but probably only if it’s a private sauna in your home (especially in America). Nude with a sauna mat or towel to sit on will allow you to sweat freely, but in most societies, you’ll want to wrap a towel around yourself and wear it as you sit upright in the sauna.

Let your body temperature rise for 8-10 minutes. The higher the seat, the hotter the air. When you begin to sweat, put 2 or 3 scoops of water on the sauna rocks. Maintain the humidity in the sauna so that your skin is moist with sweat. If the air in the sauna is not humid enough, your sweat will dry when it reaches the surface of your skin.

Sit in the sauna until the heat becomes uncomfortable – it is not a competition. When it is no longer tolerable, leave the sauna and sit in a cool place, drink cool water, or take a cool water bath or shower to lower your body temperature. Cool down for up to 5 minutes then return to the sauna. Repeat the cycle 2 or 3 times.

Sauna Tips
Remove contact lenses before entering the sauna. The hot, dry air dries contacts, and if you wear contacts you know this is uncomfortable and it will shorten the time you want to spend in the sauna.

Remove all metal and jewelry before entering the sauna. The high temps in the sauna will also heat your jewelry, hair clips, locker key, etc. and might burn your skin. Ouch!

Sauna Sources

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2 Responses to “Sauna vs. Steam Room and How to Sauna”

  1. ed on March 17, 2009 4:09 pm

    i have been meaning to look up info on saunas – thanks!

  2. Milly on March 18, 2009 8:59 am

    “Remove contact lenses” is good advice. I forgot to take my contacts out before going in the sauna last night, and really, it is miserable. Even keeping my eyes closed didn’t help.

    Another tip, if your body is comfortable, but your head or face are getting too hot, you can drape a towel over your head to shield your head & face from some heat.

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