Hot springs have been around since the beginning of time, and many people have been soaking in them with or without knowledge of the health benefits that they can offer. Greeks, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Egyptians all utilized hot springs for bathing communally and sometimes privately and for healing purposes and religious ceremonies.
Mineral-rich waters are the most common health benefit one can expect from hot springs. The kinds and exact measurements of minerals will vary depending on the hot spring. In Oregon, the hot springs mostly contain sulfur, calcium, sodium, boron, magnesium, selenium, potassium, bromine, fluorine, and iron. Absorption through the skin during a soak can have multiple health benefits. Depending on the hot spring you visit, you can absorb different minerals.
When it comes to other health benefits besides just mineral soaking, the heat from the hot springs itself can be extremely beneficial. The heat can improve blood circulation and rejuvenation, while the circulation helps relieve pains in muscles or joints. Soaking in hot springs is also linked to a good night’s sleep because they raise the body temperature and cool rapidly, allowing for a deeper sleep.
Soaking in a hot spring can also detox your skin. High amounts of silica in the water can soften rough, dry skin. The high mineral content of sulfur has been proven to help psoriasis, acne, and eczema as well.
A sauna is an enclosed room with high temperatures and sometimes added humidity. Steam rooms generate humidity between 95-100%, with temperatures kept between 100-120 degrees Fahrenheit. The difference between a sauna and a steam room is the moisture levels. In a sauna, you get dry heat, whereas, in a steam room, you get high levels of humidity for a wet kind of heat.
Steam rooms can improve many things in the body, like circulation, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, clear congestion, promote skin health, burn calories, and even remove toxins. So long as you stay hydrated, stay in for about 10-20 minute intervals, and do it about two or three times a week, you could see many benefits to a steam room.
Dry saunas have similar health benefits to steam rooms or wet saunas, but a particularly interesting study in 2015 found that dry heat saunas reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death, coronary heart disease, cardiovascular diseases, and general mortality. Regular use of dry saunas can help with chronic fatigue and pain, and allergic rhinitis.
Some studies found that any athletic person who exercises often can benefit immensely from spending consistent time in the sauna. It can promote healthier detox and exercise performance when used properly.
People who suffer from psoriasis can find some relief in dry saunas. Harvard Health reported that some people found relief through dry saunas. Asthma also saw improvement when paired with regular sauna going.
Dry Sauna or Steam Room?
So, even though the health benefits of dry saunas and steam rooms can be similar in some ways, there are different reasons why you should choose your sauna or steam room wisely. Because the main difference in saunas is dry versus wet air, the health benefits of a steam room differ from a dry sauna.
Steam rooms improve circulation, loosen muscles, promote skin health, and help with congestion. Consult a healthcare professional before choosing your sauna or steam room. With the array of health benefits being offered, it’s imperative to know what health benefits would be ideal for your body and if you are choosing the right one!