For many people out there who are unaware of the exact functions of the two, they believe that saunas and steam rooms are basically the same thing. However, there are quite a few tangible differences between them. While the sauna vs steam room debate may make it seem like one is superior to the other, the fact is that they both have their strong points. Let’s go over some of the differences and close out the debate once and for all.
What You Find with a Sauna
A sauna is a small room, or a building, that acts as a place to experience wet or dry heat sessions. Bathers in these rooms perspire because of the heat, sweating out toxins, extra calories, and more. While you can find these rooms large and small, the general principle is always the same. More often than not, however, you’re going to find saunas built for individual use.
Benefits of a Sauna
- More privacy than a steam room typically
- Can have a wet or a dry session
- Improves blood circulation
- Aids in weight loss
- Cleanses the skin
- Helps to relax the body and mind
This is where we’ll start to see the difference between sauna and steam room options. Similar to a sauna, a steam room is an enclosure where people sit to take a steam. Common in gyms and health resorts, steam rooms are typically larger and house more people, and therefore things like steam room etiquette come into play.
Steam rooms, unlike saunas, operate with a hot but dry system, where you’re not actually getting “wet” per se, beyond the sweat the body will accumulate. Most people may know steam rooms by other names, like “Turkish Bath.”
Benefits of Steam Room
- Steam can increase the heart rate and metabolism
- Can aid in weight loss
- Can help rid the body of toxins
- A great way to relax the body and mind
- Can help to lower blood pressure
The benefits of steam room usage are essentially the same as a sauna, so when it comes to the debate about a sauna vs steam room, it really all boils down to personal preference. The fact is that the difference between a sauna and steam room is really as simple as some wet steam in one, while the other only uses dry steam.
As you can see, when it comes to the difference between sauna and steam room options, there aren’t many. To understand this different better, let’s have a more detailed look at what the two are and how they are used.
How to Use a Sauna
Apart from being great ways to unwind and relax, saunas are also fairly easy to use. Most models that you can find for home use will come mostly assembled, and it’s basically as easy as hooking up the electrical. Before you enter into a sauna, however, make sure that you don’t have any sort of health condition that may be aggravated by the heat. And to ensure you do not become dehydrated, drink plenty of water before going in for a sweat. Carefully read the instructions and do not set the sauna to more than 194 degrees F; you probably won’t even need it that hot.
Once you sit down in the sauna, you can choose whether you want a wet steam or a dry steam. No matter which you choose, make sure you’re only staying in for 20 minutes at a time. There is really no difference between sauna and steam room options in this regard. You always want to limit your exposure. The heat and losing vital moisture in your body can become problematic after an extended period.
Are There Negatives to a Sauna?
We’ve spoken about the benefits of a sauna, now let’s touch on some potential negatives. For starters, it can be quite costly to put one of these in the home. Most people go to gyms or other public locations to use them. They can also be dangerous unless you’re very careful inside of them.
People have been known to turn the temperature up too high and even to fall asleep in the saunas. This can lead to serious injuries. Make sure you’re taking steps to remain safe when steaming in your sauna.
How to Use a Steam Room
Because you’re likely only going to have a steam room in the home if you’re well off financially, because they’re so large and can seat multiple people, you will likely only use a steam room in public. Therefore, the instructions here are a bit different, and it really puts an emphasis on steam room etiquette.
For starters, you still want to make sure you’re healthy enough for the steam and that you’re hydrated. Beyond that, make sure you have a towel that will cover yourself, and try to avoid making others feel uncomfortable.
Looking at people and idle chat can make some feel uncomfortable. You’re sitting there naked, basically, with only a towel, and so it’s best to act as if you’re in there alone. This should be a calming, relaxing time for you, where you sit back and enjoy the steam.
When it comes to how to use a steam room properly, it’s really all about the etiquette. Also, when asking the question, “what does a steam room do?” you’re looking at an enclosure that allows you to sit and sweat. It really is that simple.
Are There Negatives to a Steam Room?
What does a steam room do that would be negative? Not much of anything, but there’s no difference between sauna and steam room options when it comes to a few potential negatives. You can still stay in there too long and risk your health and injury, and the temperature can end up being too hot if you or someone else continues to add more steam.
The more steam that accumulates in a steam room, the higher the temperature is going to be. The benefits of steam room options outweigh the negatives, but the negatives still exist.
Is One Option Better than the Other?
Seeing that there aren’t a ton of differences, this is something that will come down to things like budget, room and taste. For example, if you can afford your own machine and have the room for it, you may want to go the sauna route by purchasing yourself a personal model.
The difference between the two may really just come down to what you have room for. If you don’t have the room and budget for a sauna, for instance, and you have to go out to the gym and other locations for a steam, what you’ll mostly find are steam rooms, not saunas, and these steam rooms can fit a few people in them.
In a pragmatic sense, benefits of steam shower options will slightly outweigh a sauna, if only because it’s more affordable to take a public steam when you want one rather than purchasing an entire machine. But when you go over questions like what does a steam room do, and how does a sauna operate, what you find are two very similar machines, and we wouldn’t rightly say that one is better than the other.
Sauna vs Steam Room Conclusion
Exercising to lose weight and to stay healthy only really works because you sweat. When that fat melts away, your body’s excess moisture has to exit the system. The same with toxins. So the benefits of steam room and sauna options is that you can sit in there and sweat and help to rid your body of toxins and excess calories while you’re also rejuvenating the skin, calming the body, and helping to lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
In many respects, your body is going through the rigors of exercise while you’re sitting down. You get that same sort of euphoric rush by losing that sweat, and you’re not taxing the joints or the heart with some high-paced cardio. The benefits of steam room and sauna soaks are vast, while the side effects are few.
Knowing how to use a steam room and sauna are also important factors. So before you rush out and buy one, or decide to use one at your gym, make sure you’re reading the instructions, that you’re in good enough health to use them, and that you’re not staying inside for too long. Beyond that, please enjoy the benefits you can accrue from using one of these great options.