February 16, 2023
When should you use a sauna or steam room?
There are no hard-and-fast rules about the best time and scenario for using a sauna or steam room, but the experts who spoke to HuffPost generally recommended heading to the steam room after a workout.
“Heat overall is good to use after a workout when you have sore muscles, with some added benefits seen in steam rooms as compared to saunas,” Bawer said, noting that warm heat penetrates muscle tissue better than dry heat. “But both can help to alleviate soreness and relax muscle by getting more blood flow to the muscles and joints and therefore more oxygen and nutrients to help with recovery.”
Penzi pointed to a 2013 study that shows steam rooms can help reduce muscle pain and preserve muscle strength, so she prefers steam in fitness settings and dry heat for other types of wellness.
“During a spa day, head to the sauna, as this has been shown to promote long-term wellness and mental relaxation,” she advised. “You can certainly try both consecutively. They both have the same main goals: raising your body temperature up, dilating your blood vessels and increasing circulation while lowering your blood pressure and promoting overall calmness and relaxation.”
Some experts recommend incorporating a steam room into your routine before you exercise.
“Using the steam room before a workout can be beneficial because it can help loosen your joints and increase flexibility,” said Dr. Aanand Geria, a dermatologist based in New Jersey.
The choice of sauna vs. steam room simply comes down to whether you prefer a dry or moist heat experience. The time of day or order in which you use them is also subject to personal preference.