If you asked a random selection of people whether they would prefer a sauna or a steam room, you would probably have 50/50 answers. It is impossible to reach a conclusion on which one is best based simply on their answers. This clearly means, therefore, that they are both enjoyable and beneficial. However, which one is right for you?
Understanding Both Options
Saunas and steam rooms both promote what is known as hyperthermia. However, the methods to achieve this are very different. Hyperthermia is the same as a fever – a temporary increase in the body’s temperature. The two methods by which this is achieved both provide benefits to different people with different needs. Those with infections or allergies, for instance, are better served by a sauna. This is because the steam will help to clear the person’s respiratory tract. Inhaling steam eliminates numerous diseases as well.
However, steam rooms are very hot and humid, which some people simply do not enjoy. For them, saunas are better than steam rooms. Those who have rheumatoid arthritis or active tuberculosis, for instance, or those who have increased cardiovascular activity, usually prefer saunas. In fact, it is not recommended they use a steam room without consulting a doctor first. Essentially, this is about common sense.
Steam rooms are equipped with steam shower generators, which heats water to a level that it instantly creates vapor. In saunas, no generators are required. This does not mean, however, that steam rooms are wet saunas and saunas are dry saunas. Dry saunas have temperatures reaching up to 200 degrees F with humidity down to 10%. Dry saunas make the body sweat in order to cool down. Wet saunas contain rocks, which you splash with water, thereby increasing humidity to about 20%. Wet saunas and dry saunas, in other words, are both saunas and neither is a steam room. Humidity in steam rooms can be almost 90%, and that is always as high as it is. In saunas, you can choose whether you want it to be dry or hot.
Finally, looking at the temperatures, saunas definitely get a whole lot hotter. However, despite the fact that it is so much hotter in a sauna, it makes it easier for the body to dissipate the heat. This means that there is no water vapor at all, whereas a steam room is filled with it. Water vapor counteracts the body’s natural heat dissipation, stopping it from naturally evaporating its heat in the form of perspiration and water. This is mainly due to the very high levels of humidity, which means the body will struggle to cool down properly when a person is in the steam room.
So which one should you choose? Assuming you do not suffer from any health conditions that prevent you from using either the steam room or the sauna, the choice really is yours to make. It is, effectively, down to preference. Both help the body to rid itself of toxins in the skin and to relax.