Sauna Vs Steam Room: Which Is The Best For You?

A traditional sauna setup featuring a bucket with a ladle, alongside a bundle of sauna whisk made with fresh birch branches, all resting on wooden benches in a dimly lit room.

Sweat it out in style, but how? Saunas and steam rooms both beckon with the promise of a purifying escape, but which one truly holds the key to your relaxation nirvana?

I’ve spent years studying and experiencing both to share with you not just the science but also the real-life impact they can have on our health. From boosting heart health to soothing sore muscles, these heat therapies are more than just relaxing; they’re transformative.

Did you know that while both saunas and steam rooms elevate your body temperature, how they do it—and the benefits they offer—can be quite different? This article breaks down those differences in an easy-to-understand way.

Keep reading to find which one might be the golden ticket for your wellness routine. The answer may surprise you!

Key Takeaways

  • Saunas offer dry heat that can help relax muscles and boost heart health. They make you sweat a lot, which cleans out your skin.
  • Steam rooms have moist heat that is good for hydrating your skin and helping with breathing problems. They also help sore muscles heal faster.
  • Both sauna and steam room sessions can lower stress levelsimprove blood flow, and possibly aid in weight loss. But they work better if you stay hydrated and don’t spend too long inside.
  • Safety is important when using either option. In saunas, avoid dehydration by drinking water beforehand. In steam rooms, be cautious of the humidity if you have breathing issues.
  • Choosing between a sauna or steam room depends on personal preference and what benefits you’re looking for, like muscle relaxation or respiratory relief.

Understanding Sauna and Steam Room

Diving deeper, we find that saunas and steam rooms both use heat to promote health.

Saunas provide dry heat using hot rocks on wood stoves or electric heaters, making the air hot and leading to sweating. The heat in a traditional sauna can be intense, with temperatures typically falling between 160°F and 195°F.

You can create some steam by pouring water on the hot rocks, but otherwise, the air remains relatively dry. Still, the humidity is in the range of 5-20%.

In contrast, steam rooms fill the air with moist heat by generating steam from boiling water using steam generators. The temperature stays cooler than in saunas, around 90 to 120°F. The humidity can reach to close to 100% as there is minimal ventilation.

Both options have their own set of benefits for wellness. While saunas are great for deep relaxation, flushing out toxins and aiding in muscle recovery, steam rooms offer added perks through humidity that’s good for your skin and breathing passages.

If you looking to purchase a heater for your sauna, take a look at our roundup reviews of the Top Electric Sauna Heaters and the Top Wood-Fired sauna Heaters this year.

Health Benefits of Sauna

Saunas heat up your whole body. This makes you sweat a lot.

  • Sweating is good because it cleans out your skin and can make you feel relaxed.
  • The dry heat in a sauna can help with tense muscles, too, making them feel better after a workout or a long day.
  • Going to the sauna can also be good for your heart and blood flow. Studies have shown that regular sauna use might help keep your heart healthy and improve how well it works.
  • It could even make your mind sharper over time.
  • Plus, being in the sauna feels very calming, which can lower stress and help you sleep better at night.

Forbes highlights the benefits of sauna use, including improved cardiovascular health, stress reduction, exercise recovery, skin health enhancement, and overall well-being.1

Health Benefits of Steam Room

Moving from the dry heat of saunas, steam rooms offer a moist and humid environment that brings its own set of perks.

  • Steam rooms are great for people who want to improve their skin health. The high humidity helps your skin feel hydrated and smooth.
  • They open up the pores, helping to clear out dirt and dead cells.
  • Breathing in the warm steam also does wonders for your respiratory system. It can help clear up congestion and make breathing easier.
  • Steam room sessions increase blood circulation, too, which is good for your heart and muscles.
  • This boost in circulation can help sore muscles heal faster after a workout.
  • Plus, just like saunas, spending time in a steam room can lower stress levels.
  • The combination of warmth and humidity offers a relaxing experience that might even help you sleep better at night.

Healthline discusses how steam rooms can aid in relaxation, skin health, respiratory health, and muscle recovery.2

A cozy red wooden sauna cabin with a simple front door and a chimney, nestled in a lush green forest setting.

Sauna Vs Steam Room: Which is More Effective?

Diving into the heart of our wellness journey, we encounter the age-old debate: sauna vs steam room. Here’s how they stack up in terms of various aspects:

AspectSaunaSteam Room
Heat TypeDryMoist
Skin ImpactMay dry out skinHelps hydrate skin
ResearchExtensively studied for various health benefitsSimilar benefits, less research
Muscle RelaxationPromotes deep relaxationMoist heat soothes muscles
Respiratory ReliefMinimalSignificant, due to humidity
Weight LossPotential aid, further research neededNeeds more studies
Overall Health ImpactImproves cardiorespiratory health, immunity and cognitive functionBenefits circulation and stress relief
Personal PreferenceDepends on skin sensitivity and health goalsMay be preferred for those with respiratory issues

Saunas provide a penetrating dry heat that has shown a broad spectrum of benefits, from improving heart health to boosting mental function.

On the flip side, steam rooms, with their enveloping wet heat, offer a sanctuary for those looking to hydrate their skin or seek relief from respiratory issues.

“Alternating between sauna and steam room has improved my sleep and skin. It’s amazing how each offers unique benefits tailored to my needs.”

Jamie, a wellness enthusiast

While both promise a sanctuary of relaxation and a myriad of health perks, the choice between them rests on individual health needs and preferences. The debate continues, yet the decision is deeply personal, tailored to what your body and mind seek in the pursuit of wellness.

A PMC article compares physiological reactions to sauna and steam room use, emphasizing differences in heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature regulation.3

Next up, we’ll look into something everyone should think about before stepping into either the sauna or the steam room – safety concerns.

Safety Concerns for Saunas and Steam Rooms

Choosing between a sauna and steam room may depend on their health benefits, but it’s also essential to consider safety.

  • Saunas offer a dry heat which can dehydrate you. So drink lots of water before you step in, and stay hydrated during and after your sauna session.
  • The hot environment of saunas raises your core body temperature, so don’t stay too long. Limit your time to avoid feeling dizzy or faint.
  • Steam rooms have lots of humidity, making it hard for some people to breathe. If you have asthma, either avoid it completely or check with a doctor first.
  • People with heart issues need to be extra careful with sauna and steam rooms or stay away from them.
  • These rooms can be a place where germs grow if they’re not clean. Always look around to make sure the area seems tidy and well-kept before using it.

Should You Use a Sauna or Steam Room After a Workout?

After considering safety concerns, it’s natural to wonder about the best time to enjoy a sauna or steam room.

Using one after your workout can be a great choice. It helps relax your muscles and ease any soreness you might feel.

The heat from a sauna or steam room makes your blood vessels bigger, which improves blood flow and helps with muscle recovery. Plus, many find these sessions boost their mood and help them unwind.

Saunas have dry heat, while steam rooms use moist heat that’s gentle on your skin. Depending on what feels best for you, both options can offer relief for stiff joints and reduce stress after exercising.

Just make sure to drink plenty of water before going in to stay hydrated. Whether you choose a sauna or steam room, taking this step after working out promotes relaxation and supports your body’s recovery process efficiently.

Related: Benefits of Using a Sauna Before Workout

A charming yellow circular wooden sauna on a deck platform, positioned in a serene outdoor space surrounded by trees and overlooking a grassy field.

Duration: How Long Should You Stay in a Sauna or Steam Room?

How long you should actually spend in a sauna or steam room is key to getting all the good stuff without overdoing it.

  1. Start Slow – If you’re new to saunas or steam rooms, begin with short visits. Aim for about 5-10 minutes per session. This helps your body get used to the heat.
  2. Listen to Your Body – Pay attention to how you feel while inside. If you start feeling dizzy or uncomfortable, it’s time to step out. Your body knows best.
  3. Increase Gradually – As you get more comfortable, you can slowly add more time. For seasoned users, staying up to 15-20 minutes is common. But don’t rush it; build up slowly.
  4. Limit Time in Steam Rooms – Steam rooms are humid and can make sweating less effective at cooling you down. Stick to a maximum of 15 minutes here to stay safe.
  5. Cool Down Between Sessions – If you want more than one round, take breaks in between. Sit in a cooler area or take a lukewarm shower for a few minutes before going back in.
  6. Hydrate Before Going Back In – Drink water during your breaks if you plan on doing multiple sessions. This keeps dehydration away and makes your sauna or steam room experience better.
  7. Know When Enough is Enough – Even if you love the heat, limit yourself to a maximum of 20-30 minutes overall. Spending too much time can strain your body instead of helping it relax.
  8. Consider Health and Age – Younger people and those in good health might enjoy longer sessions than older adults, or those with health issues like high blood pressure should be cautious and perhaps aim for shorter stays.
  9. Follow Facility Guidelines – If you’re at a spa or gym, they might have their own rules for how long guests can stay in saunas or steam rooms—always follow these guidelines and proper sauna etiquettes.

By keeping these points in mind, you’ll ensure that your body gets all the relaxing and healthful benefits from saunas and steam rooms without going overboard.

Is Daily Use of The Sauna or Steam Room Safe?

Knowing how long to stay in a sauna or steam room leads us to another important question – is it safe to use them every day? The short answer is yes, for most people. Daily sessions can be part of a healthy routine.

But there are some rules you should follow. Stay hydrated and listen to your body. If you feel dizzy or unwell, take a break.

People with certain health issues like heart problems should talk to their doctor first. For others, daily use can help relieve stress, improve cardiovascular health, and even get rid of muscle soreness.

Always clean up well after each visit though; saunas and steam rooms can spread germs if not maintained properly.

Sauna vs Steam Room: Determining What’s Best for You

Choosing between a sauna and a steam room comes down to what you want for your health.

  • Saunas use dry heat, which some find better for easing muscle pain and boosting heart health.
  • Steam rooms have humid air that might help more with skin hydration and loosening tight muscles.
  • Think about what feels best on your body. Maybe the deep heat of the sauna suits you, or perhaps the moist warmth of steam rooms is more comforting.
  • Also, consider any health issues like skin conditions or breathing problems.
  • Saunas may be too dry for some, while steam rooms could be tough on those with certain lung issues.

It’s all about listening to your body and seeing how it responds after each session. This way, you’ll know which one makes you feel better overall.

Got a sauna session that rejuvenated your spirit? Or a steam room encounter that cleared more than just your pores? Whatever your story, we’re all ears! Share your experiences, or questions in the comments below.

FAQs about Sauna vs Steam Room

1. What’s the difference between a sauna and a steam room?

Well, saunas use dry heat, often from wood or electric heaters, making the air hot and dry. Steam rooms? They’re all about wet heat – think hot, steamy air that makes you sweat right away.

2. Can using a sauna or steam room improve my health?

Yes! Both can boost your heart health, help with muscle relaxation, reduce stress, and even decrease your risk for things like heart attack or stroke.

3. Do saunas help with weight loss?

While saunas might make you lose water weight through sweating — real weight loss comes from burning calories through exercise and maintaining a healthy diet.

4. How often should I use them to get these benefits?

Doctors say using a sauna four times a week is great for long-term health perks… But start slow to see how your body reacts first.

5. Any safety tips I should know about?

Definitely – drink lots of water to stay hydrated, don’t stay in too long (around 10-20 minutes is good), and cool down after slowly… And if you have certain health issues like heart problems or are pregnant, check with your doctor first.


  1. Forbes:
    Forbes. (2024, February 21). 5 Science-Backed Sauna Benefits For Your Mind And Body. Retrieved from [https://www.forbes.com/health/wellness/sauna-benefits/] ↩︎
  2. Healthline:
    Healthline. (2022, December 13). Steam Room: Benefits, Risks, and How It Compares to a Sauna. Retrieved from [https://www.healthline.com/health/steam-room-benefits] ↩︎
  3. PMC Article:
    W. Pilch, Z. Szygula, T. Palka, P. Pilch, T. Cison, S. Wiecha, and Ł. Tota. (2014). Comparison of Physiological Reactions and Physiological Strain in Healthy Men Under Heat Stress in Dry and Steam Heat Saunas. Retrieved from [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4042662/] ↩︎

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