Did you know about the benefits of steam rooms and how they can be very beneficial to us?
I have been using steam therapy on and off for years (off due to no gym access) and after a session in the steam room I feel like a new person. Re-energised, recharged and reinvigorated are some emotions I feel and in all honesty, it’s the part of my workout that I look forward to the most and push through for.
What exactly is it about them that makes us want to keep getting all hot, wet and sweaty for?
Origins Of Steam Therapy
Steam therapy has been used for hundreds of years, the Greeks were the first to adopt steam for the purpose of cleansing, relaxation and recovery. Steam baths were used not only for relaxation but for the recovery of their athletes as well. It was the Romans that took things to the next level. Magnificent steam baths were built and hosted many a social occasion, they served the community during the height of the Roman Empire. The steam baths were supplied by natural hot springs from beneath the ground. In a time of status and wealth, it was an opportunity for all to access this new experience regardless of your social class.
Shiny Happy People
What exactly is steam therapy? It’s pretty much an enclosed space or room that is filled with steam, with a maintained temperature of 110ºF (43ºC) with maximum humidity. They are very common at gymnasiums and health spas across the world.
What are the benefits of steam treatment?
What I’m going to do here is break down the benefits, not just for how and why it makes you feel but the internal benefits as well.
Radiant Skin… Am I Worth It?
Through day to day exposure, toxins can become trapped underneath your skin. Steam rooms can help this by using heat to open up your pores. The warm condensation rinses away the dirt and dead skin cells that can lead to breakouts. As a result, you may have clearer skin that leaves that radiating glow and feels softer. Steam rooms have been known to help those with acne as well.
Sitting in a steam room can have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, especially on older individuals.
A 2012 study found that moist and humid heat, such as a steam room, can improve circulation by dilating the small blood vessels or capillaries. Blood can then flow more easily and transport oxygen around the body.
Steam room therapy has also been shown to keep the heart healthier and reduce blood pressure. As well as help to repair broken skin tissue caused by wounds.
With increased circulation from a steam room the immune system stimulates leukocytes, these are cells in the blood which fight against foreign substances and diseases.
Reduced Stress Levels
The heat from a steam room makes the body release endorphins, these are known as ‘feel good’ hormones, they help to reduce the feeling of stress.
There’s also the decreased the level of cortisol, which is the hormone released in response to stress. When the cortisol level drops, people feel more in control, rejuvenated and…relaxed.
There’s the bonus of burning calories, with the elevated temperature you sweat more, which in turn increases you heart rate, this will then make you burn calories. On average a steam room session between 12 to 20 minutes can burn between 125 – 200 calories depending on the individual. However, the majority of the calories burned will be in the loss of water and will need replenishing afterwards.
Helping With Congestion
A steam room opens up the mucous membranes around the body. This helps someone breathe deeper and easier. Due to this, congestion is broken up in the sinuses and lungs and therefore can be used to help treat colds, aid breathing and unblock sinuses.
Increased Recovery Time
The stiffness and pain felt after a workout is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Professional athletes have used hot and cold therapy for decades to help reduce DOMS and speed up their recovery. Heat from steam penetrates deep into muscle tissue and reduces inflammation.
I have mentioned before how warming up correctly before and after a workout is crucial for maintaining maximum physical fitness. With the help of a steam room the heat can warm joints and muscles and reduce stiffness, which in turn can reduce the possibility of injury. In the event of picking up an injury the heat from a steam room can help recovery by increasing circulation in the injured area.
There are some risks involved when using a steam room and you should be aware of them. The obvious one is to not spend too much time in the environment as this can lead to dehydration and fainting. Always make sure you drink plenty of fluids and keep an eye on how long you have been exposed to the heat. Between 10 – 20 minutes is advised and if you are new to steam, please build up slowly. If you have any kind of breathing problem, it’s worth consulting with a doctor before trying steam rooms as the damp and humid air may cause issues for the individual.
Other things to consider is the hygiene of the room being used. Other peoples germs and bacteria can thrive in this kind of environment, so make sure the room is cleaned properly and regularly to avoid the spread of germs and bacteria.
There’s no doubt regular use of steam therapy can be very beneficial to people internally and externally, just consider the health risks before stepping inside one and always consult your GP before making any kind of decision.
If you have any thoughts on this post or want to let me know of your experience with heat therapy, please comment below.