After a long workout, heading to the spa area of your gym can feel like the best reward ever. If you have ever wondered whether it is better to head for the sauna or the steam room, the latter may be your best bet when it comes to recovery.
The two options obviously come from the same concept — you sit in a heated room and relax while the warmth soothes your sore muscles. But the different types of heat they use play an important when it comes to which option is right for you. According to Healthline, saunas use a dry heat from a stationary heater or from putting water on hot coals. On the contrary, steam rooms have heavily moisturized air that comes from boiling water. The main difference lies in the steam room’s humidity.
When it comes to recovering from your exercise routine, the steam room might be your latest obsession. Your steam room session can help improve your circulation, thus reducing muscle soreness and relaxing your system. According to the outlet, studies show that the room’s humidity primarily accounts for the circulation-boosting benefits, noting that said benefits were especially prominent in the subjects’ extremities. With a healthier heart and lower blood pressure, the steam room’s side effects can make you feel better for longer.
Steam rooms are (literally) cooler than saunas
A main difference between the two recovery areas stems from their difference in temperature. Women’s Health reports that, while steam rooms are nearly 80-degrees cooler than their dry-heat counterparts, they actually boast 100 percent humidity, making it feel much warmer.
Nonetheless, many of the benefits are similar between the two. Any time that you have a few minutes alone to sweat and breathe, it offers a strongly stress-relieving effect, the outlet notes. Whether you hop in the steam room or the sauna, you will likely experience said effects if you go in without any electronics. Furthermore, your sweat sesh can also make your “skin more robust, meaning it sort of firms it up and makes it more elastic, which is good for aesthetic reasons, but also because the skin acts like a general health barrier,” Denise Millstein, MD, told the outlet.
However, one specific benefit of steam rooms may be best for those suffering from asthma or allergies. “Medications for these kinds of respiratory problems might dry out your breathing passages. Steam will moisturize and open the lungs a little more and hydrate the respiratory tract,” Dr. Chiti Parikh, co-director of the integrative health and wellbeing program at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, explained.
Between keeping your airways moisturized and your body relaxed, the steam room should definitely be your go-to winter wellness staple.
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