Table of Contents
- Infrared Sauna – Dry Heat Therapy
- Steam Room – Moist Heat Therapy
- Sauna vs. Steam Room Benefits Overview
- 5 Infrared Sauna Benefits
- 5 Steam Room Benefits
- Pros and Cons of Infrared Sauna
- Pros and Cons of the Steam Room
When determining the key differences between a steam room vs. a sauna it can be challenging to understand how to compare the benefits of both.
To start, an infrared sauna produces a dry heat while a sauna produces a moist heat.
This heat therapy is used for everything from relaxation to weight loss.
If you are deciding which suits your needs better, it would help if you came prepared with a basic understanding of the benefits of each.
To get started, read and analyze the information below to learn the benefits, pros, and cons of each!
Infrared Sauna – Dry Heat Therapy
Infrared saunas create a dry radiant heat by emitting infrared light inside a wooden enclosure.
The infrared light comes in three wavelengths — short, medium, and far.
Heat from the light vibrates the water molecules so rapidly that they break down, providing the benefit of detoxification.
The appeal of saunas is that they cause a myriad of reactions including relaxation, vigorous sweating, and pain relief.
It is important if you decide to use any form of heat therapy that you remain hydrated.
You enter a wooden room, sit on a bench and relax.
Immediately you feel the infrared rays that will heat your body directly, as opposed to heating the space around you.
Due to the fact that the infrared rays warm about 1 1/2 inches deep into the body, they operate at a much lower temperature of around 115 – 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
This 50 – 70-degree difference in temperature is one of the key factors to consider when comparing a steam room vs. a sauna.
If you are new to heat therapy a sauna may be a good first choice, as since it operates at a lower temperature it allows you to test your comfort.
It is used often as an alternative to the higher-temperature traditional sauna and steam room.
Steam Room – Moist Heat Therapy
Steam rooms are made out of glass or tile due to their non-porous nature.
This air-tight sealed room utilizes a steam generator to create a humid, high-temperature environment.
The steam generator boils water to create steam, and with no airflow out of the room, humidity levels can easily reach up to 100 percent.
It’s this intensity in humidity which makes a sauna feel so warm, even though the temperatures typically stay around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
When using a steam room you will sweat quite a bit, and this is good as it helps open pores and cleanses your skin.
It is recommended that you never spend at any time more than 15 minutes in a steam room, in order not to become dehydrated.
A steam room is often used as a post-workout recovery as it helps relax your muscles and promote blood flow.
This form of heat therapy is perfect if you are looking to relieve your congestion, recover, or just relax.
Although steam rooms alone can’t treat serious conditions, they do boast a wide variety of benefits ranging from weight loss to boosting your immune system.
Continue reading for our comprehensive sauna vs. steam room benefits overview.
Sauna vs. Steam Room Benefits Overview
5 Infrared Sauna Benefits
Making use of your gym’s or club’s infrared sauna can help provide a warm and therapeutic experience.
With many benefits ranging from purification to weight loss, it can be a good option for therapy if you are in need.
Increase in Blood Circulation
One of the key benefits of using an infrared sauna is that, as the body warms up, your circulation will slowly increase.
If often used, particularly in the middle-infrared level, you can stimulate blood flow.
An increase in blood circulation also promotes healthier skin and aids in cell growth.
This plays a part in a variety of therapeutic endeavors, including improved muscle recovery and decreased blood pressure, and aids in inflammation-based pain.
The pain-relieving nature of heat therapy stems from this blood flow increase.
Infrared light penetrates your body to create radiant heat, which increases the blood flow to your muscles, allowing for more energy to heal.
Those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, or peripheral arterial disease all can find effective pain management therapy in an infrared sauna.
Often these infrared saunas are used by those who suffer from arthritis as a substitution for pain management with none of the more severe side effects.
If you suffer from pain you can show improvements in both fatigue and pain, even outside of the sauna, from regular sessions.
One of the more popular benefits that are provided by using an infrared sauna is detoxification or cleansing.
As stated before, the infrared rays penetrate deep beneath the skin and break up water molecules, increase blood flow, and promote the release of any unwanted toxins in your body.
This detoxification process that occurs, paired with the increased circulation and oxygenation of your muscle tissue, creates a powerful therapeutic experience.
Weight Loss and Increased Heart Rate
The infrared sauna will cause your body temperature to increase, which in turn causes your heart rate to increase as well — this mimics the heart rate increase you would experience if performing an exercise.
Your heart rate increases when your body has to expend more energy, lowering your core temperature as well as keeping up with an increased heart rate.
Coinciding with the additional expense of energy while using an infrared sauna, you will burn more calories which will lead to weight loss.
Sitting in an infrared sauna for 30 minutes burns roughly 600 calories.
Relaxation and Stress Relief
It has been proven that high levels of stress can impact the brain severely.
Anxiety, memory problems, and learning difficulties are all effects caused by high levels of stress.
Infrared therapy allows for a dry, soothing relaxation that will help reduce your stress levels in a matter of minutes.
Using an infrared sauna helps your body maintain healthy levels of cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormone we generate.
Maintaining a healthy level of cortisol will improve your mood, reduce your stress, and generally help you relax and release the tension you are holding.
5 Steam Room Benefits
Steam rooms will provide a plethora of beneficial therapy including, but not limited to, muscle recovery, lower blood pressure, and improved skin health.
These are just some of the many steam room benefits, and there are more than we can list here.
Listed below are 5 of the key benefits you can take advantage of.
Reduced Blood Pressure
If you suffer from high blood pressure you may benefit from using a steam room.
While in a steam room your body will release hormones that begin to change your heart rate, specifically aldosterone.
Aldosterone regulates your blood pressure, and when released, can help lower your high blood pressure.
This helps not only circulation health, but also in the relief of stress.
As opposed to the increase in cortisol from an infrared sauna, being in a steam room actually decreases the production of cortisol.
This drop in cortisol puts you into a relaxed state that helps both mental and physical health.
Before going to work out you can use a steam room to warm up your body.
Applying heat to your body before a workout will make your joints more flexible, making injury less likely.
If you do yoga, Pilates, or heavy cardio like running, you may want to try using a steam room beforehand.
Not only will it help your respiratory system, but with the increase in flexibility you will ensure you have optimal mobility in whatever it is you will be doing.
Respiratory and Congestion Aid
Whether you suffer from a cold, chronic allergies, or just simple congestion issues, a steam room can help you clear up your breathing.
This benefit comes from the environment created by the steam generator; as you are breathing in deep warm steam, congestion begins to break up inside your sinuses.
Steam therapy can be used for the treatment of a multitude of respiratory issues, and can help you recover faster if you are suffering.
Of course be careful not to spend too long in the room in one sitting.
Workout Recovery Assistance
Another huge benefit of using a steam room is using it as a post-workout recovery aid.
Delayed onset muscles soreness, or DOMS for short, is the soreness you feel following a workout.
The heat produced by a steam room can cut deep into muscle and help provide relief for DOMS.
You’ll experience increased blood circulation and improvement in respiratory health; you can see why using a steam room can be the perfect post-workout recovery option.
Boosts the Immune System
Although steam rooms are considered heat therapy, they also fall into another category, hydrotherapy, which has been used for ages to boost immunity.
When your body is exposed to warm water, leukocytes, or the cells that fight infection, are stimulated.
Regular use of a steam room can provide you with an immunity boost which will, in turn, keep you healthier longer and sick less.
Pros and Cons of Infrared Sauna
- Improved Circulation
Increased blood circulation causes reduced stress levels, lower blood pressure, and reduction in inflammation.
This also provides a boost to your immune system, and is great for detoxification.
- Weight loss
With your body temperature elevated, your body burns calories trying to keep up.
This can be utilized post-workout to burn just a little more, while also relaxing and enjoying a quicker recovery!
Heating the body directly allows for a lower temperature, and thus a more comfortable experience.
This makes it a perfect starting place for beginners in heat therapy.
Due to the increased blood flow your metabolic rate, paired with vigorous perspiration, allows for the purging of unwanted toxins.
- Overheating and Dehydration
One of the main downsides to infrared sauna treatment is that it can lead to overheating and dehydration.
You can prevent this from happening by remaining hydrated, and keeping your sessions around 15 minutes at most.
- Incompatibility with Implants
The deep penetrating nature of infrared sauna therapy can cause issues with certain implants.
Please check with your doctor before using a sauna if you have metal rods, pacemakers, or silicone implants.
Pros and Cons of the Steam Room
- Injury Prevention
The warm environment created by the steam room warms the muscles around your joints.
A steam room can improve flexibility, relieve tension, and prevent injury.
It can be used in conjunction with proper stretching to ensure you are performing at your full potential.
- Workout Recovery
Steam rooms aid overworked muscles in recovering due to the increase in blood flow.
You can use a steam room after a hard workout to relax your muscles before going home.
If you have a tendency for sore muscles following a workout, a steam room may prove useful.
- Clears Up Congestion
Spending an extended amount of time in a steam room can also improve your breathing.
Breathing in the warm air breaks up congestion in both your lungs and your sinuses.
This can assist you in your cardiovascular efforts by allowing more oxygen to flow through your lungs.
- Exposure to Bacteria
The warm, damp environment can also allow certain bacteria and viruses to thrive.
This is preventable by using a towel, and washing both your hands and feet before and after use.
No matter whether you choose to use a steam room or a sauna, it is imperative that you consider your personal needs.
Both provide desirable health benefits that can improve quality of life, and it is worth the time to analyze the pros and cons of both prior to making a decision.
Just fifteen minutes a day can translate into reduced pain, an increase in happiness, and an overall improvement in your health.
Heat therapy provides benefits for all; whether you are using it to assist in your workouts, or just to relax after a stressful day at the office, we hope this helped you in determining which is best for you!
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
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