25 Jan Sauna vs. Steam Room: Which is a Better Choice?
Hey guys, it’s Thomas DeLauer with OptimizeCEO and one of the questions that I get bombarded with a lot is what is better, a sauna or a steam room? They’re both great, we all know the benefits of them, you can increase your metabolism. You get that increased blood flow, you get a little bit of an increase in tissue repair.
The things are awesome but which one are we really supposed to use? Which one is going to get us more benefit, make us feel better and really help us get through our day that much more than the other? First let’s take a look at what the difference is, between a sauna and a steam room really are.
Aside from the obvious, where a steam room is going to be obviously higher humidity, and a sauna is going to be dry. We have to look at things like these, a sauna is generally much, much hotter running at like a 160 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas a steam room doesn’t have to be nearly as hot, because it’s sealed and the humidity creates the sensation of a lot more heat.
They’re usually only sitting between a 100 and a 120 degrees, although you may sweat more in a steam room you’re really not getting as much heat are you are in a sauna. Steam rooms and saunas are proven to have a lot of good metabolic effects, in fact, they really kind of originated in Finland and the Finnish population really advocates the use of saunas and steam rooms, and they claim that that is what gives them their longevity and their overall good health.
Now, in my personal opinion, I think a lot of it is the omega-3 content that they eat but that’s for another video. Before I can tell you which one exactly is better, I want to go through some of the benefits of both saunas and steam rooms. The first one we want to look at is an increase in blood flow. It’s going to be the number five reason.
The increase in blood flow does a lot of things for you. I talk about in a lot of videos how the increase in blood flow gets more nutrients to the muscle, it also gets more oxygen to the muscle which means that it can recover a lot better. When you’re talking about post workout, hopping in the sauna or the steam room right after a workout that increased blood flow can allow the muscle to recover a lot better, and you’ll have a lot more muscle relaxation throughout the day, so you don’t get quite as stiff.
That’s kind of an obvious one, that’s the main reason that a lot of people go to sit in a sauna or possibly a steam room. The number four benefit of a sauna or a steam room is going to be an increase in your metabolism due to the thermic effect. When you have an increase in that core body temperature your metabolism increases, at least for the time being like you’re in the sauna or the steam room, but more often than not, for another 30 to 60 minutes afterwards as your body is trying to regulate it’s body temperature again.
Your heart rate will usually increase, you’ll usually notice that your hearts beating a little bit more, you start sweating, you start getting a little bit more exhausted even though you’re just sitting there. There’s even something that’s called the hyperthermic conditioning, which is sitting in a sauna or steam room for 30 minutes after your workout to allow your body to acclimate to a certain heat when your body is already kicking into overdrive.
This can really set you up for success if you’re getting into a hotter climate or you’re going to be travelling a lot where your body needs to be able to acclimate a little bit easier. According to a study in 2007 by the journal of science in medicine and sport, participants that used a sauna or a steam room for 30 minutes, two times per week saw a dramatic increase in their endurance threshold.
What they actually saw was a 32%, that’s almost a one third increase in their endurance output, meaning they could push themselves further and harder in an endurance activity by over 30% just by sitting in a sauna or a steam room. That leads me into the number three benefit of sitting in a sauna or a steam room which is the topic that I talk about all the time, and that’s inflammation.
Reduces inflammation, it does this from a hormonal standpoint. When you get into some extreme heat, your body temporarily releases noradrenalin, adrenalin and cortisol. Now, I talk about cortisol in a bad light a lot, we have to remember cortisol is important too, but when we’re talking about short little intervals of time where you’ll be sitting in a sauna or steam room for 15 to 20 minutes.
Those little bursts of cortisol, adrenalin and noradrenalin reduce muscular inflammation but they also reduce cellular inflammation as well. Which means for the time being that you’re in the sauna, and a short time afterwards your body is able to recover better, not only at a muscular level, but at a cellular level for your organs as well. It’s a huge, huge benefit post workout but just any time as well.
The number two benefit to a sauna or a steam room is kind of the obvious one, but I want to go in-depth a little bit more, and that’s sweating. That’s why we go in there, feels good to sweat, but I think we sort of have this preconceived notion that by sweating we’re detoxing, so we just think the more we sweat, the better. There’s a little bit more to it than that.
A lot of times we feel good because we’re lowering our blood pressure when we do this, we’re decreasing some of the salts that are in the bloodstream or decreasing that sodium content. The blood volume is a little less extreme in terms of what’s putting pressure on the arterial walls. This can allow you to feel a little bit better, possibly get rid of a headache if you’ve got one but let’s talk about the detoxing factor.
It definitely does detox you, and I’ve got a nice little study to tell you to prove it. According to the journal of environmental and public health, it was found that individuals that used a sauna or a steam room regularly but also had high blood levels of mercury started seeing a reduction in mercury levels of their blood just after a couple weeks of increasing their sauna or steam room usage.
What this tells us is that mercury, one of the most difficult toxins to actually remove or detox from can be removed from the bloodstream, removed from the body simply by sweating. This proves to us that sweating is in fact a form of detox.
The number one reason that I think saunas and steam rooms are absolutely imperative to the success of the business person, and to the success of the athlete is because it increases your mood. This isn’t just because you’re sweating and detoxing, there’s actually a portion of your brain called the dorsal raphe nucleus.
This portion of the brain has heat sensitive neurons that when are exposed to extreme heat actually allow for excess production of serotonin which is the feel good hormone and also the precursor to many other great functions of mood, energy and focus. Simply by sitting in a sauna or a steam room you stimulate your body to produce more serotonin giving you that sense of well being, that can give you the extra confidence that you need to get through the day, but also stay on track with your diet or your training regiment.
Now, the main question, which one is better, a sauna or a steam room? Does kind of depend on what your goal is, but based on the core benefits, it looks like sitting in a sauna is going to be your best bet. Simply because of the higher temperature, the higher temperature is going to elicit a lot more positive effects than just the sweating alone.
Steam room is great because you’re going to sweat a lot more, which is great if your sole purpose is detoxing but if your purpose is elevating your mood, reducing muscle stiffness and reducing inflammation, and also detoxing. Then your best bet is to get more bang for the buck in a shorter amount of time, in a hotter environment by sitting in the sauna.
Hopefully this helps you out and solves a tough question for you so that you can get the most out of your day, the most out of your business, and the most out of your workouts. I’ll see you in the next video.