Sauna vs Steam Room Benefits: Which Is Better For You?

Sauna vs Steam Room Benefits: Which Is Better For You?

Saunas and steam rooms are two popular ways to relax, de-stress and detoxify. Both provide therapeutic dry or wet heat sessions that promote sweating and offer numerous health benefits.

But which is better for you – a sauna or a steam room? Here’s a detailed comparison of sauna and steam room benefits to help you decide.

Sauna Benefits

A sauna uses dry heat, usually between 150-212°F, to induce sweating and provide the following benefits:

1. Relieves Stress

Sitting in a hot sauna raises your body temperature and stimulates the release of endorphins – your body’s natural feel-good chemicals. This gives you a soothing feeling of relaxation and reduces stress.

Studies show sauna bathing lowers levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Chronic stress contributes to problems like headaches, anxiety, insomnia and more. Using a sauna 2-3 times a week helps relieve stress and promote better sleep.

2. Eases Muscle Soreness

The dry heat from a sauna helps relieve aches and pains by warming up your muscles. This increases circulation and flexibility in your joints and muscles.

Many athletes use saunas before and after workouts to reduce muscle soreness and stiffness. The heat also minimizes oxidative cell damage from intense exercise.

3. Detoxifies Your Body

Sweating during a sauna session helps rid your body of toxins, heavy metals and other impurities. Sweat released from your pores pushes out toxins that may have been trapped in your tissues and cells.

When it comes to detoxification, sweating in a sauna can be as effective as moderate exercise. Regular sauna use helps reduce your toxic load over time, making it easier for your body to naturally detoxify itself.

4. Improves Cardiovascular Health

The high temperatures of a sauna dilate blood vessels and improve blood circulation. This provides better delivery of oxygen and nutrients throughout your body.

Increased blood flow also helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels – key markers of heart health. Using a sauna just a few times per week can significantly reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

5. Boosts Immunity

Saunas provide temporary heat stress on your body through raised body temperature, leading to positive immune system changes.

Heat stress from saunas increases levels of white blood cells and other cells of your immune system. This makes your body better prepared to fight off germs and infections.

Using a sauna can also help relieve congestion from colds or sinus infections by keeping nasal passages and airways open.

6. Burns Calories

A 30-minute sauna session can burn up to 300 calories as your heart works harder to pump blood flow throughout your body. This makes saunas an easy way to maintain a healthy weight and give your heart a workout.

Using a sauna post-workout maximizes fat and calorie burn as your elevated body temperature keeps your metabolism fired up even after you exercise.

7. Improves Skin Health

The dry heat of a sauna opens your pores and makes your skin eliminate toxins through sweating. This cleans your skin, unclogs pores and leaves you with a healthy glow.

Increased circulation from saunas also nourishes your skin cells and keeps them supple. Using a sauna can reduce acne breakouts, improve complexion and minimize wrinkles over time.

8. Eases Congestion

The heat and steam provided by a sauna helps open up nasal passages and airways. This provides natural relief for congestion due to colds, allergies, sinus issues or respiratory infections.

Using a sauna can help loosen mucus buildup and make breathing easier when you’re stuffed up. The heat also helps kill bacteria and soothe sore throats.

Steam Room Benefits

Steam rooms provide moist heat, usually around 110-115°F, to offer their own set of therapeutic perks:

1. Promotes Muscle Relaxation

The warm humidity of a steam room helps relax tense muscles and increase flexibility. This makes steam rooms ideal for soothing sore, stiff muscles after strenuous activity or workout sessions.

The moist heat stimulates blood circulation to your muscles. This reduces lactic acid buildup that contributes to muscle aches and pain.

2. Alleviates Respiratory Problems

Inhaling the warm steam provides moisturizing benefits for your nasal passages and throat. This can help relieve symptoms of respiratory conditions like colds, flu, asthma, bronchitis, coughs or sinusitis.

The humid environment also helps loosen mucus secretions in your airways and makes breathing easier when congested.

Many people find sitting in a steam room beneficial for opening up airways without the drying effects of typical dry heat.

3. Clears Skin & Unclogs Pores

The wet heat and steam help open your pores to flush out impurities, dirt and bacteria trapped in your skin. Using a steam room regularly minimizes acne breakouts and achieves a clean, fresh complexion.

The hydrating effects of steam rooms also add moisture to your skin to prevent dryness and irritation. Increased circulation provides nourishment for softer, healthier and more vibrant skin.

4. Eliminates Toxins Through Sweating

Steam room sessions make you sweat out impurities from your body the same way dry heat saunas do. As your pores open up, toxins and wastes are expelled through your sweat.

Using a steam room helps rid your body of heavy metals, chlorine, BPA and other harmful chemicals that enter through our water, products and environment.

5. Reduces Stress & Relaxes Muscles

The warm, soothing steam of a steam room melts away muscle tension. This provides natural stress and anxiety relief as your body unwinds.

Like saunas, steam rooms also increase endorphins for an overall calming, meditative effect. The relaxing environment eases mental fatigue and rejuvenates your mind and spirit.

6. Improves Sleep Quality

Using a steam room before bedtime promotes relaxation and can make it easier to fall asleep. The routine also helps establish a regular sleep cycle which maximizes restful sleep.

Steam rooms are ideal for people who have insomnia or trouble relaxing in the evenings. This promotes better quality sleep so you wake up feeling more energized.

7. Boosts Circulation & Oxygen Flow

The high humidity and heat of steam rooms raise your body temperature and increases blood flow throughout your body. More circulating blood means more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to your cells.

This improves cardiovascular health and provides benefits similar to exercise. Better circulation keeps your skin glowing and nourished too.

8. Supports Healthy Breathing

Inhaling warm steam keeps airways open and moisturized. This promotes better breathing for people with respiratory conditions like asthma, colds, bronchitis or allergies which restrict air flow.

The humidity also loosens mucus secretions to prevent congestion and coughs. Steam rooms also help strengthen lungs and increase lung capacity.

Sauna vs. Steam Room: Key Differences

Now that you know the main benefits of saunas and steam rooms individually, here’s a quick rundown of how they differ:

  • Heat source: Saunas use dry heat from a wood stove, sauna electric heater or heated rocks. Steam rooms feature wet heat from steam vapor.
  • Temperature: Saunas typically range from 150-212°F. Steam rooms average 100-115°F.
  • Humidity: Saunas have low humidity levels around 10-20%. Steam rooms have very high humidity near 100%.
  • Sweating: You sweat more in saunas due to the higher heat. Steam rooms promote light perspiration.
  • Health benefits: Saunas are better for detoxification. Steam rooms excel at relieving respiratory problems. Both help circulation and relaxation.
  • Skin benefits: Saunas improve complexion. Steam rooms are superior for cleansing pores and acne.
  • Construction: Saunas require proper ventilation and wood construction. Steam rooms need a steam generator and sealed environment.
  • Usage: Sauna sessions usually run 10-20 minutes. Steam rooms are enjoyed for 10-15 minutes.
  • Comfort: Saunas feel extremely hot and dry. Steam rooms feel warm and humid.

Sauna vs. Steam Room: Which Is Better For You?

Choosing between a sauna or steam room comes down to your own personal preferences and needs:

  • If you primarily want to relax muscles and open up airways, a steam room may suit you better.
  • If you mainly aim to sweat out toxinsburn calories and improve heart health, then a sauna may be more beneficial.
  • Those seeking skin cleansing and congestion relief would likely favor a steam room.
  • For reducing joint pain and post-workout recovery, saunas hold more advantages.

You may find alternating between sauna and steam room sessions provides you with the most well-rounded health and wellness perks. This combines the detox benefits of saunas with the respiratory relief of steam rooms.

Those new to thermal therapy are advised to start slowly with 10-15 minute sessions every few days. This allows your body to adjust to the heat and humidity levels comfortably.

Be sure to stay hydrated before and after using saunas or steam rooms to avoid dehydration. Listen to your body, relax and enjoy the myriad of benefits!

Frequently Asked Questions About Saunas vs. Steam Rooms

Which is better for weight loss and burning calories?

Saunas are better for weight loss and burning calories because the higher heat makes your heart work harder as it pumps blood to your skin surface. This increased heart rate burns more calories, comparable to moderate exercise.

What’s the difference between an infrared sauna vs traditional sauna?

Infrared saunas use light to generate heat and provide deeper tissue penetration. Traditional saunas use dry heat from a stove or rocks to make the air hotter. Both cause sweating but traditional saunas allow higher temperatures.

Can you use a sauna or steam room with high blood pressure?

It’s generally safe if you have high blood pressure, but start slowly for 10-15 minutes maximum since the heat can lower blood pressure further. Stop immediately if you have symptoms like dizziness, nausea, headache or weakness.

Is it better to sauna before or after a workout?

Pre-workout sauna sessions help warm up your muscles and increase flexibility. Post-workout sauna use helps ease sore muscles, boost calorie burn and aid recovery. Try alternating pre-workout and post-workout saunas.

What should you do before and after using a sauna or steam room?

Before: Drink water, shower, wait 1-2 hours after big meals. After: Cool down gradually, shower, drink plenty of water to rehydrate, relax.

Can saunas or steam rooms help with arthritis pain?

Yes, they both can improve arthritis and joint pain due to the heat relaxing muscles and increasing blood flow to affected areas. Saunas may be better for arthritic hands and feet due to deeper heat penetration.


Saunas and steam rooms both provide therapeutic benefits through dry and wet heat. Saunas excel at detoxing, strengthening your heart and burning calories. Steam rooms are superior for muscle relaxation, skin cleansing and breathing easier.

Consider your own personal health and wellness goals to decide which method may suit you better. Or try alternating between the two to reap the most benefits! Just be sure to hydrate well and start slowly when trying out saunas or steam rooms. Used properly, they are great additions to your self-care routine.

Several reputable companies specialize in sauna and steam room installation across Dubai’s luxury hotels and residential towers. Top vendors utilize high-end European equipment for quality fitting services inclusive of design, customization, electrical works, plumbing, ventilation, safety features, and annual maintenance support. Lead times run 2-4 weeks for end-to-end installation with standard project costs ranging $25,000 to $50,000.

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