Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Steam Or Dry Sauna

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            In the sauna vs. steam room debate, both get a "thumbs up"

Steam and Sauna both aid the overall health of the skin as well as improve respiratory and circulatory benefits for people that exercise, as well as those who don’t. Both the steam room and the sauna create the desired effect of creating a temporary fever, or rise in temperature in the body, a process called hyperthermia. Both serve the needs of different groups and it’s important to learn them in your sauna vs. steam room decision.

If you have respiratory problems and allergies then the steam room is generally the better choice versus the sauna since the moist air will help to clear sinuses and airways. Steam inhalation is effective on sinusitis, bronchitis, asthma, even coughing, or any malady which can be relieved by moisture in the air. The sauna is generally preferred over a steam room for those who can't tolerate hot humid environments which would include people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, open infections, or active tuberculosis.

Now even though the temperature is hotter in a sauna, the body is better able to effectively dissipate its body heat in a sauna vs. steam room environment, because the sweat will evaporate in the hot dry air of the sauna. The body can't cool itself as effectively in a steam room because there is no evaporation of the water vapor. To get a better idea of this, imagine being submerged in a Jacuzzi or a hot bath, where heat loss through evaporation is impossible due to total water saturation. That's why a hot bath of 100° F feels much hotter on the skin than a sauna with a temp of 180° F. When you climb out of a hot tub you can visibly see the heat dissipating in the form of steam from your body. That's why there is sometimes a drench shower inside the steam room, or next to a hot tub. To dissipate your body heat. Sometimes steam room veterans will also bring some water in the steam room to pour over themselves to cool off a bit without leaving the room. Too long of an exposure without any cooling will act like a high fever and begin (rather quickly) to cook your brain cells. Let me say that again COOK your brain cells. Causing a slowing of cognitive function, possibly resulting in passing out. Which could be very dangerous if you are alone.

Image DetailSince ancient Greek Olympic times athletes have known the benefits of steam and sweat loges after training. The heat of saunas and steam rooms offer additional benefits to athletes and to those who work out. As the heat loosens muscles, greater range of motion is obtained. Likewise, after an cold run, sauna and steam can prevent muscles from cramping. Lets take a look why. It's called being hyperthermic (artifically raising your body temp.) We operate at 98.6 degrees, when you immerse yourself in a 104 degree hot tub you are essentially giving your body a temporary fever, and your blood starts to boil. So your heart starts pumping twice as fast to move the blood past the skin level so it can ventilate and cool off. If you are a healthy athlete, "Rock On" it is a time proven method for removing lactic acids quicker than not doing any thing at all. I can personally vouch for this. However, if you are overweight, don't exercise, smoke, taking med's, under stress and or getting up there in years... Well let's just say I wouldn't use a steam, sauna or hot tub by yourself. You would be inviting disaster in the door. Get a designated sweater to accompany you. Now the Mayo clinic and I agree on this one, you athlete boy's and girl's, due to the fact that sauna and steam both increase body temperature and blood flow, We would not recommend using them as a form of recovery for 24 hours after a hard training session. This is because a hard training session causes muscle fiber damage and microscopic swelling in and around the muscle fibers. If you then raise body temperature and blood flow, you may increase the swelling and delay recovery. The best form of recovery post exercise is an ice bath, or localized icing.

This therapy works opposite to steam and sauna in that it decreases the body's temperature. This stimulates the body to decrease blood flow to the arms and legs and divert most of the blood to the internal organs like your heart, lungs, intestines, etc. Decreased blood flow to the peripheries means less swelling. Therefore, the body could take less time to recover. Use an ice bath for 10 to 15 minutes after training to stunt swelling and speed recovery. No person athlete or not should ever use a sauna, steam or hot tub without bringing a water do drink. Otherwise you'll be cooking your brain cells...Duh.. Just like if you have a fever and it will also dehydrate your organs like your Heart. So in the debate I'd have to say... it's a draw from everything I've read it's a matter of personal preference. Unless you have one of the health concerns we mentioned earlier in the blog.

Some Final Tip's:
1. Sweat with a buddy...it's safer (and could be more fun)
2. Drink Water or
3. Drink a Margarita and then
4. Drink lot's of WATER!
So enjoy a sweat with a friend, and catch up on thing's, but don't forget a bottled water. Good Luck..

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