Steam vs Sauna: How to Choose the Right Heat Therapy for You

Steam room
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Humans have been using steam rooms and saunas as health and wellness practices for thousands of years, and it doesn’t seem as if this will be changing any time soon. Beyond offering several benefits for physical health and wellbeing, there’s no denying that these forms of heat therapy just feel good—though it probably doesn’t hurt that they don’t really require us to do much of anything, either. That said, there are some key differences between the two, and it’s important to understand these differences to make the right choice for your individual goals. Keep reading for our guide to all things steam vs. sauna.

Steam Rooms

As the name suggests, steam rooms are heated spaces filled with steam created by generators of boiling water. Just a few minutes in the hot, humid environment is enough to open up your pores and encourage your body’s natural detoxification process through sweat. The high temperature of steam rooms can also support relaxation and ease muscle soreness, though they can be dangerous for those with respiratory conditions or high blood pressure. If you’re not sure that steam rooms are a safe option for you, talk to your doctor.


Saunas, on the other hand, use dry heat generated by rocks or infrared heaters. Beyond helping to relax muscles and aid in workout recovery, saunas are even more effective than steam rooms at triggering the body to produce sweat. The dry heat is also great for blood circulation and overall well-being, the main difference being that there is some evidence to suggest that saunas regular sauna use can lower cholesterol levels. 

Ultimately, which one is better just comes down to a matter of preference.