As the temperatures drop outside, it’s so tempting to seek out any higher temperatures inside. Your gyms + rec centers might offer steam rooms ++//or saunas, but how do you know which to use? While a good sweat sesh is sure to warm you up regardless, taking a *hot bath* can help you relax!
Saunas are dry + steam rooms are wet — that’s the main difference. Saunas use heaters on rocks + the wooden benches help soak up any excess humidity. In steam rooms, steam generators release steam in an *almost* airtight room so that the water condenses on the walls + all surfaces. Saunas are hotter [160 — 200 degrees Fahrenheit with 5 — 30 percent humidity] while steam rooms [as expected ; )] seem much steamier [110 — 120 degrees Fahrenheit with 100 percent humidity]. In both saunas + steam rooms, heat rises, so sitting on a higher bench will be warmer.
Some people claim that they *cleanse* or detoxify the body, but there is no scientific evidence that this is true. While the heat will make you sweat + open your pores, possibly cleansing your skin, steam rooms + saunas don’t do much other than improve circulation, reduce muscle tension, + promote relaxation. If you have any health issues, one might be better than the other — if you have allergies or congestion, you might like steam rooms better, but you also might want to avoid steam rooms if you have asthma. If you don’t like high humidity, then saunas might be preferred. If you notice you lose any weight, remember that it’s all water weight + won’t be long-term.
If you try sitting in either a sauna or steam room, you might find yourself bored. You don’t have your phone, so… what do you do to pass the time by sitting? Be mindful, of course : ) This is a great opportunity to practice meditation without distraction. If you’re not about savasana, try dedicating a few minutes before//after your workout to meditate in a *hot bath.* Let yourself de-stress + be mindful!
As always, make sure you hydrate with water before + after to prevent dehydration, ++ try not to be in either for longer than 15 minutes. Sit back, relax, + soak up the warmth!
++ Mary K