The relaxing aromas of eucalyptus or lavender are irresistible. Just a whiff means a steam room, and a moment of pure, uninterrupted bliss is not far away. There’s much more to discover inside than a sense of euphoria, however. Steam rooms are all-star stress relievers, yes. But, they are even better at eliminating toxins, rejuvenating the skin, and much more. All you have to do to tap into steam room benefits is sit back and relax.
After a tough workout, you walk into your gym’s locker room, start to towel off, and there it is—the steam room, just staring at you, daring you to get even sweatier.
But is post-workout steam worth the extra time spent at the gym? And what is the sweaty, steamy ritual even supposed to do?
We talked to top exercise physiologists and heat stress researchers to answer all your questions about what benefits of the steam room you should know.
Steam rooms are enclosed spaces that are heated with steam. The temperatures vary, but steam rooms are typically kept somewhere around 110°F. You’ve probably seen steam rooms before at your gym or inside a spa .Also Portable Sauna Melbourne page which has everything Portable Sauna related that you might need
Steam room vs. sauna
Steam rooms are similar to saunas. Both encourage you to sit in a small, heated room, and both claim your health will benefit. The big difference is in the type of heat that they provide. A sauna uses dry heat, usually from hot rocks or a closed stove. Steam rooms are heated by a generator filled with boiling water.
While a sauna may help relax and loosen your muscles, it won’t have the same health benefits of a steam room. The key to the steam room’s unique health benefits is the humidity.
Heed healing history
Taking a look at the history books can help with some answers. Early bathhouse culture, dating back centuries, gives a few clues into the ideal steam room frequency today. The earliest known public bath dates back to 2500 B.C. Then, the Romans used steam baths as gathering places and visited them often, taking a steam bath every day.
That culture persisted long after the Roman empire fell. Turks adopted steam baths and made them their own as hammams around the seventh century. Their guided bathing ritual included a 45-minute steam room, scrub, and massage experience. Today, luxury spas still offer this pampering steam room session.
A bit of the European bathing culture also hopped the pond with the colonists, and Benjamin Franklin famously maintained a daily steam bath routine. For him and other spa-oriented cultures, a steam bath every day did the trick.
Learn from the lab
Researchers agree that the more steam, the better. Recent studies confirm that upping heat sessions from once weekly to daily is associated with a drastic drop in the risk of chronic diseases and cardiac events like strokes.
However, visiting a steam room every day for extensive 45-minute sessions might be too much to squeeze into your hectic schedule. Now, visiting a steam room once weekly is still plenty of time to lower stress, help muscles recover, improve circulation, and clear skin.
Get your glow on
It’s not a coincidence that most spa facials include some quality time under the steamer. In less than 10 minutes, the steam opens the pores and helps clear out congestion and eliminates acne-causing bacteria. The same occurs in a steam room, no esthetician required. Even a short steam sesh once a month results in a dewy, plump complexion. All that sweat quickly cleans out pores, and the heated room increases blood flow to produce a post-facial glow, without the dedicated treatment.
The whole point of sitting in a steam room is to sweat. And, the longer you sit, the more you sweat. But you have to remember that every bead of sweat rolling down your limbs is water leaving your body. Sit too long, and you’ll risk dehydration and overheating. As long as you drink plenty of water before, during, and after any steam room session, you’ll stay healthy and hydrated.
What are the benefits of a steam room
Sitting in a steam room has been shown to have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, particularly in older people. Check out Portable Sauna Melbourne specialists in providing solutions to your problem.
A 2012 study found that moist heat, such as that provided by 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 reduce blood pressure and keep the heart healthier, as well as help to repair broken skin tissue caused by wounds, such as ulcers.
Both steam rooms and saunas will make a person sweat due to the heat. The sweating opens up the pores and helps cleanse the outer skin.
Warm condensation will help rinse away dirt and dead skin and has been used in the treatment of acne.
However, what a steam room also does that a sauna does not is help remove the toxins trapped below the skin.
Often, after a workout, a person’s muscles will feel sore. This pain is known as delayed onset muscle soreness, and it is important to relax the muscles to promote a quick and healthy recovery.
A 2013 study showed that the immediate application of moist heat after a workout helped reduce pain and preserve muscle strength. The heat soothes nerve endings and relaxes the muscles.
Loosens stiff joints
A steam room can also be used before a workout, as it helps to loosen up the joints and increase flexibility, just as a pre-workout warm-up does.
A 2013 study showed that the application of heat to a joint could decrease the force needed to move the joint by up to 25 per cent compared to cold application.
Steam rooms can also help reduce joint pain.
Being in the heart of a steam room can make the body release endorphins, which are known as ‘feel-good’ hormones because they help to reduce the feeling of stress in the body.
A steam room can also decrease the level of cortisol, which is the hormone released in response to stress. When the cortisol level drops, people can feel more in control, relaxed, and rejuvenated.
Opens up sinuses
The heat from a steam room opens up the mucous membranes around the body. This will make someone breathe more deeply and easily.
Steam rooms will break up the congestion in the sinuses and lungs and therefore can be used to help treat colds, unblock sinuses, and aid breathing.
When a person is inside a steam room, their heart rate increases; if they use a steam room after exercise, then their elevated heart rate can be prolonged.
Experts have found that when used alongside a healthy exercise program, the heat generated by the steam room and the sweating it causes can stimulate the body and increase wellness.
It is worth noting that there is no scientific evidence to support the belief that using a steam room aids weight loss.
This is because the weight lost after using a steam room is merely water weight and must be replaced by drinking water afterwards to avoid dehydration.
However, alongside a healthy diet and exercise plan, the use of a steam room can help burn calories.
Limits and risks of steam room use
Steam rooms have plenty of potential health benefits, but they can be harmful if you overuse them. Staying in a steam room for more than 15 minutes can dehydrate you.
Steam rooms can also host other people’s germs. The steam isn’t hot enough to kill some types of bacteria, and the warmth may even increase the number of bacteria. Looking for Sauna Melbourne? Look no further, Portable Sauna has you covered.
Steam rooms alone can’t treat serious conditions. And while they can raise your heart rate and make your exercise more effective, steam rooms are not a substitute for exercise. If you are pregnant, immune-compromised, or recovering from surgery, avoid the steam room and sauna until you get the all-clear from your doctor.
What is a Steam Bath
Steam baths provide a variety of health and beauty benefits, suitable for almost anyone. Warm, moist heat supplies sink into the skin, joints and muscles. The skin first responds by opening the pores, cleaning several layers deep into the dermis. Perspiration carrying the body’s toxins can seep out of the enlarged pores with ease. The body reacts by relaxing sore muscles and improving blood flow, bringing more oxygen and nutrients to all areas of the body, even the most delicate capillaries. A steam bath—also called a steam shower, hot springs, sweat lodge, wet sauna, hydrotherapy and a hot bath—is safe and beneficial for almost every age and medical condition.
The Bold and the Beautiful
How often you should take a steam bath is a personal matter for most. History gives hints. Since early civilization, societies used steam baths for a variety of reasons, particularly for health and beauty benefits, but also for social interaction too. The earliest use of steam bathing occurred in prehistoric times. Humans used the steam vapours that oozed from the earth’s volcano cracks for cleansing and healing the sick and incurable. Later, in ancient Rome, public baths, supported by natural hot springs, were open all Romans, regardless of the social class. Bathers enjoyed wrestling and dancing in the baths, often throughout the day, taking breaks periodically to cool down before reentering.
In colonial times, Benjamin Franklin used to take a daily steam bath by an open window. He believed that every illness or disease could evaporate through the skin, once the pores are open and exposed to fresh air. For an hour after a morning steam bath, he exposed his unclothed skin to the fresh outdoor air. During colonial times, a weekly hot bath with plenty of steam was a remedy for typical medical alignments.
Today, not much has changed. Steam baths are both private and semi-private enterprises, promoting health and relaxation, provided by fitness centres, spas and wellness clinics. Steam vapours, provided by a hot bath at home, give you the same health and beauty benefits as the commercial-grade versions. Health personnel—from personal trainers to cardiologists—recommend a weekly regular steam bath.
Who Can Use a Steam Bath
Most healthy adults can take a weekly steam bath for routine cleansing and relaxation but may opt for one per day. Sometimes athletes and other fitness enthusiasts, take a steam bath before and after a workout. Those who have acne, sore muscles and joints, depression, anxiety and arthritis are among the bathers who may take up to two per day, unless a doctor advises otherwise.
For those under 13 or those over 65 years of age, take a weekly steam bath, unless your doctor recommends otherwise. Do not give an infant or toddler a steam bath without talking to a pediatrician first. If you are over 65 or have a physical disability, use an auxiliary aid or have someone to assist you in and out of the steam bath or bathtub if needed.
Limiting Steam Baths
Studies show that a steam bath is safe and beneficial for patients with end-stage heart failure, so even patients with serious medical conditions may enjoy one. However, a steam bath is not a prescription for everyone. Your doctor may advise against it or limiting its frequency and duration. Moreover, bathers who use durable medical equipment may need to disconnect the equipment before bathing, and this may place some patients in grave danger. Check out our range of Portable Sauna Melbourne to help with your problem.
Avoid using a steam bath if you have an open or infected wound. Frequent steam baths may cause dry, flaky skin on sensitive skin types, especially during the winter months. Limit your steam baths to once a week, until your personal preferences and sensitivities become clear. A regular steam bath maybe once a week for one healthy adult, but three times a week for another.
Always use caution when taking a steam bath, limiting it to only 15 to 20 minutes at a time and allowing a cooling-off period of 20 minutes before reentering for additional therapy. Always take a cool shower after using a commercial-grade steam bath and drink plenty of water. If at any time during the steam bath, you feel overheated or uncomfortable, step out of the bath immediately and rest.
Are there any risks to sitting in a steam room?
Even if the alleged steam room benefits haven’t been proven, there’s not a ton of downsides. For most people who are generally healthy, the biggest risks are dehydration and dizziness. But the solution is pretty simple there: Hydrate and, if the heat starts to go to your head, get out, Nelson says.
However, it is advised that you talk to your doctor before using a steam room if you have any health conditions such as asthma (the steam could make breathing a bit more complicated) or heart disease. Also, if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant, it’s best to lay off any whole-body heat therapy, steam rooms included.
It’s also worth mentioning that bacteria, mould, and other cities thrive in hot, humid environments. “Poor sanitation can create issues with mould or germ transfer,” Machowsky says. But as long as your gym is on top of its steam-room cleaning routine, you should be good. (If you’re concerned, you can always ask management or the cleaning staff how and how often the steam room gets a good wash-down.)
How and when should you steam?
Steams are best left for after workouts (rather than before) when you can benefit most from some relaxation.
Before stepping in, proper steam-room etiquette is to shower off (it helps cut down on that germ issue), and then to wear your birthday suit but cover up with a towel. Make sure that you are sitting on the towel when you’re in there (think about it!) and consider your comfort and everyone else’s in there before opening up the front of your towel for all of the steam room to see.
During your first few sessions, start small. At your gym, you might not be able to adjust the thermostat, but you can adjust how much time you choose to spend in there, Nelson says, recommending that people start with 5 or 10 minutes and increase to 30 as it feels good to you.
When you’re in there, make the most of your time by meditating, practising mindfulness, or performing breath work, he says. Or, if you’re in there with friends, go ahead and talk it up; social time has plenty of mental and physical benefits, and it’s completely acceptable to have a measured conversation while in a steam room. Just make sure to feel out the vibe first and be courteous—if everyone else is sitting there with their eyes closed, they are probably going to be bothered by loud chatting.
In the end, do you, and stay off of your phone (unplugging is good, and the humidity could hurt your phone anyway). The goal is to leave the steam room feeling better than when you walked in.
Adding a stop in the steam room to your post-workout routine can decrease your recovery time and help you feel healthier. While steam rooms should never replace treatments that your doctor has prescribed, they are a great place to unwind and reap some health benefits while you’re at it.
Always practice good steam room hygiene by wearing flip-flops, sitting on a towel, and rinsing off with a lukewarm shower to get rid of bacteria after time in a steam room.