Dry Saunas - A Comparison
Dry Sauna vs Steam Sauna
The debate is on! To Dry Sauna or to steam is the question on the minds of health and fitness devotees around the world and opinions are heated to say the least. Sauna enthusiasts will be quick to claim that a steam room session is the equivalent to wallowing on the bacteria ridden set of 'Gorillas in the Mist', while steam room fans will advocate that dry saunas lead to dehydrated skin and broken capillaries.
The truth of the matter is that both have their advantages and ultimately it is personal preference that should be the deciding factor more than anything else.
The Benefits of Dry Saunas
The main advantage to dry saunas lies in the fact that due to the fact that they can be set to such high temperatures. Due to low humidity levels in the air, temperatures in dry saunas often exceed 70 degrees Celsius. The benefit? - This extreme heat induces sweating and causes heart rates to rise substantially. This is believed to send metabolic levels into overdrive, thereby promoting both detoxification and weight loss. Dry saunas are particular popular in the Scandinavian countries where they are often followed by a plunge into an ice cold lake or a cold shower.
While taking a sauna borders on being a national pass time in countries like Sweden and Finland, other population groups such as the Turks advocate that 'steaming' beats 'baking' any day! Many people simply find the extreme heat of dry saunas too much to bear and thus prefer the lower temperatures which are typical of steam rooms. Steam baths are also believed to be more beneficial to those suffering from respiratory ailments. While the intense heat of a dry sauna may irritate the membranes of the nose and lungs, a short steam room session by comparison will aid in the loosening of chest muscles and mucous, thereby alleviating symptoms of respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis.
Possibly the greatest advantage to steam rooms is the fact that the humidity levels in the air ensure that skin remains supple and hydrated throughout the steam session. In addition, beads of moisture coat the skin almost instantaneously and prevent the body from losing heat through the process of evaporation. This is thought to accelerate the detoxification and healing processes which take place within the body when body temperature rises.
Steam Room Let Downs
On the down side, the typical steam room environment provides the perfect breeding ground for germs and bacteria which thrive in the warm, moist conditions. Provided the correct precautions are taken this should however never really become a problem. It is advisable to make sure that the steam room you are using has been properly cleaned and disinfected. In addition, it is worthwhile to shower both before and after entering a steam room so as to ensure that skin is thoroughly clean. Health spas and resorts often place essential oils in the steam generators of their steam rooms. In addition to adding a pleasant odor to the air and aiding in decongestion, many of the oils that are used also have an antiseptic property which makes the whole steaming process more hygienic.