Is The Sauna Or Steam Room Better For Weight Loss Working Principle of Sauna Baths

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Working Principle of Sauna Baths

There are two types of heat used in a sauna, dry heat and wet heat. Wet heat is a type of heat with high humidity, typically 65%, and is typically used in steam baths found in spas that tend to operate at temperatures between 40 degrees Celsius and 50 degrees Celsius. The high moisture content, however, makes them feel hotter. Saunas on the other hand use dry heat. With a moisture content of less than 20%, the sauna can heat up to 100 degrees Celsius. With less humidity, the situation is much better than a steam bath and breathing is also easier. Others may find it a little too dry so a little water can be poured over the stone to increase the moisture content. Some of the more tech-savvy saunas use infrared for heating and proponents of this technology say it’s better because it provides direct heat stimulation and offers deeper tissue penetration. The principle is still the same, however. Sauna baths are usually between 10-15 minutes and use heat to cause sweating.

A 10-15 minute session stimulates the nerve endings to release acetylcholine which then opens the sweat glands found in the skin. This is a regulatory response as the body sweats to cool down from the heat. Capillaries under the skin dilate which opens the pores of the skin to remove toxins, excess oil and dirt resulting in glowing skin. When followed by a bath, it can help remove dead skin. One can remove up to a liter of water from a sauna bath and it is therefore important to hydrate properly before entering the sauna bath for this reason. By sweating, the body rids itself of toxins which are then released through the open pores on the skin.

The heat stimulates the endocrine glands that secrete endorphins, which are our feel-good hormones and that’s why taking a sauna makes us feel great. The heart rate increases, without a corresponding increase in blood pressure, to match the increased blood flow. Dry heat improves lung function and can benefit those with respiratory problems. Wet heat is advised for those suffering from pneumonia and other respiratory diseases as the high humidity causes breathing difficulties. Heat that is too dry is also not better because it can damage the protective mucous membrane in the lungs.

Stimulated by the heat, the body’s metabolism becomes faster benefiting the bather with the same benefits as light exercise. Sweating results in weight loss, but there is a danger of dehydration and therefore cannot be replaced by a weight loss program such as diet and exercise. The warming effect on the muscles also relieves muscle pain combined with better blood flow resulting in a feeling of relaxation, less stress and better mobility.

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