A Finnish word Sauna means bathhouse. The 2,000-year-old sauna bathing traditions are mostly credited to unique Finnish culture. People in other parts of the world practiced steam bathing. The historical evidence has been found in Egypt, India, Greece, Rome, China, Japan, and Russia. Throughout history, sauna and steam bathing were not only a form of relaxation but also a way to heal diseases, cleanse the body and even purify the soul.
Saunas were used for religious ceremony, healing, and relaxation in Finland. Between sweat cycles in the sauna, the Finns would immerse themselves in cold water.
Native Americans built sweat lodges from carefully selected stones which were heated and then gathered in a hollow for purposes of a purification ritual or a sweat ceremony.
There are a lot of types of saunas - traditional, smoke, or infrared but generally, offering dry heat, saunas revolved around hot stones. Some steam may be created in a traditional sauna by pouring water on a stove or hot stones.
The wet heat created for a steam bath is produced by boiling water that requires a powerful steam generator. Turkish Bath (Hammam), Aroma room, Japanese Salt-Steam Bath, Native American Sweat Lodge, Russian Banya, a steam room, and steam showers are types of steam baths.
Sauna vs. Steam Room - Benefits
Both sauna and steam rooms provide stress relief by offering a private, quiet and warm space. The heat will relax your muscles, improve blood circulation, boost the immune system, and gradually increase endorphins releasing to make you feel good. Heat causes you to sweat profusely in order of detoxification and cleaning the body impurities.
An occasional sweat in the sauna or steam room is absolutely good for the skin as it washes of bacteria from the epidermis. Deep sweating also removes dead cells and cleanses the pores to leave you with soft and glowing skin. If you have been on a quest to find the secret of youth then you should try the sauna or steam room for vitality and youthful appearance.
Both sauna and steam are good for your heart as they encourage circulation which in turn strengthens the heart’s muscles. Some experts suggested that a session in the hot room increases heart rate by nearly 60%, a figure close to what happens when you exercise.
According to a cardiologist Dr.Thomas H Lee, "The cardiovascular effects of sauna have been well documented in the past. It lowers blood pressure, and there is every reason to believe that its effects are good for blood vessels".
Other studies have shown that regular exposure to heat may benefit people with decreasing risk factors for atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Saunas and steam rooms may be safe and beneficial for people with mild heart failure, but not recommended for individuals with unstable angina or a recent heart attack.
Sauna vs. Steam Room
People often confuse the two types of heated rooms because they produce a similar effect but there are key differences among them. The main difference is based on the fact that a steam room utilizes 100% humidity while a sauna is basically dry.
Typically, a temperature of the stem rooms ranges between 110 and 120°F (43 - 49°C). A temperature of the traditional or dry sauna might vary from 150 to 212°F (65 - 100°C) with humidity from 10% to 40%.
• Sauna Increases Longevity. Regular exposure to higher temperatures is associated with increasing longevity and reducing mild heart problems.
• Sauna Improves Skin Conditions. Due to temperatures in sauna generally being higher than in a steam room, perspiration is easily evaporated from the skin, pores are getting unclogged and cleaned, as well as bacteria being killed on the skin.
• Sauna Improves Body Fluids Circulations. Dry heat is good for improving blood and lymphatic fluid circulations that helps with muscles and joints relaxation and promotes the elimination of metabolic wastes.
Sauna Negative Effects
• Cardiovascular Risk.
1. High temperatures can increase the health risks for people with serious heart conditions by interfering with their heart rates.
2. Prolonged sessions can cause low blood pressure and loss of consciousness.
• Dehydration. The dry baths cause dehydration as saunas do not utilize moisture in the process of making you sweat.
• Skin Irritation. If you have dry and itchy, and easily irritated skin, a steam room is a better choice than a sauna.
• Sweating issues. If your sweating mechanisms are suppressed, limit your sauna's session and drink more water. Do not let your skin become overheated, dry and irritated.
Steam Room Benefits
• Steam Helps with Respiratory Problems.
1. Steam is good for those who suffer from bronchial asthma, bronchitis, catarrh of the upper respiratory tract, or a common cold.
2. If someone has chest congestion and thick mucus, breathing in steam helps to soothe a cough, clear sinuses, bronchus, and lungs.
3. If the air is enriched with an aroma of essential oils, it is beneficial for people with respiratory problems, as well as helps with insomnia, depression, and stress.
• Steam Improves Skin Conditions. The moist heat of steam rooms boosts peripheral blood flow, hydrates skin, opens and cleanses the pores to leave your skin soft and glowing.
• Steam Improves Body Fluids Circulations. The steam, just like dry heat, increases the body's temperature thus boosting circulations, relaxing muscles and speeding the metabolic process.
Steam Room Negative Effects
• Dehydration. While there is moisture in steam rooms it doesn't cool your body meaning that you can get dehydrated.
• Worsen Skin Conditions. Last studies suggest that steam rooms with high humidity and temperature doesn't help with acne but can make existing acne even worse.
• Bacteria and Fungi Growth. High moisture content compromises steam rooms by encouraging the growth of bacteria and fungi. The most common infections you can catch in a steam room are Athlete's Foot and Jock Itch.
• Cardiovascular Risk. Prolonged sessions can cause low blood pressure and loss of consciousness.
Saunas and steam rooms are obviously good for you but if only you are careful. Moderation is important to avoid serious risks. If you want to avoid the side effects of saunas or steam rooms, know your limit and always end your session before the moment you feel dizzy, weak or uncomfortable. Take lots of water afterward to restore the water you have lost while sweating.
Safety Tips: Heat, Cool Down, Rest, and Heat
- Before entering a sauna or steam room, take a shower to get rid of dirt, oils, makeup, and perfumes.
- Dry your skin with a towel before you start the first sessions. Water on the skin acts as an insulator and slow down a perspiration process.
- Do not exceed 10-15 minutes per session. Listen to yourself, leave the sauna if you feel uncomfortable.
- After the bathing session, cool down your body by taking a cool shower, drink an adequate amount of water and relax.
- Do not go back to the sauna or steam room until you do not reduce excessive body temperature.
- Repeat the bathing session 2 or 3 times.
- Use flip-flops and sit on a towel to avoid infections.
- Do not drink alcoholic beverages during sauna or steam bathing.