10 Health and Wellness Benefits of Steam Rooms
Who does not relish the pleasure of steam baths, luxuriously indulging to the sensuous embrace of the steam? The origin of steam rooms dates back to ancient times in which they were more popularly known as steam baths. The ancient Greeks knew that keeping the body clean was essential for good health and for keeping it in optimal shape. Athletes, soldiers, philosophers, and commoners all used steam baths regularly as a place to socialize, talk about philosophy, recover from training, to thoroughly cleanse the body, and for relaxation. These baths were simple basins heated with burning coals or heated rocks.
The ancient Romans also made use of steam baths but these baths were much larger and the designs were more elaborate with the use of marble, pillars, and domes.
Nowadays, steam rooms can be found in many gyms, spas, and even in condominiums. Before we move on, it’s important to know that saunas and steam rooms are not one in the same. Saunas make use of dry heat while steam rooms provide moist heat.
Steam rooms can be extremely beneficial to both the body and the mind. Below are health benefits one can attain by the regular use of steam rooms.
10 Health and Wellness Benefits of Steam Rooms
1. Steam rooms help relieve sinus pressure and pain.
Sinus pressure and pain is caused by the common cold, the flu and allergies causing inflammation and irritation in the membranes lining our nasal passage. In order to rid the body of the irritant or infection, mucus production increases which causes congestion leading to sinus pressure.
Steam rooms help loosen up the mucus clogging our sinuses and nasal passages providing temporary relief. (1) In order for this treatment to be more effective, tilt your head up and take long, deep inhales through the nose and exhale slowly out the mouth.
2. Steam from steam rooms can help cleanse the skin.
Activities we take part in on a daily basis may be the cause of unwanted acne, black heads, white heads, and a number of different skin ailments. Some of these activities include being exposed to smog, flying debris such as dirt and dust, not washing our hands and touching our faces, prolonged sun exposure, and much more.
Small pores on our skin can easily get clogged by dirt, dead skin cells, oil, bacteria, make up and other impurities. Steam baths can help cleanse the skin by opening up clogged pores exposing all the impurities. (2) For best results, use a facial wash directly after use of a steam room to thoroughly cleanse the skin.
3. Steam rooms support weight loss.
For many people, weight loss is an absolute struggle. Most of us know that the most effective way to achieve healthy weight loss is by proper diet and exercise. More often that not, the process takes too long for some and quick fixes are a more appealing option.
Spending a limited time in the steam room can help individuals sweat out excess water weight. For athletes trying to make weight for competition, this method is extremely useful. People who would like to shed water weight to look a little better for the beach may want to try a few sessions in the steam room but bear in mind that the look won’t be significantly improved. (3)
Remember that spending too much time in a steam room can cause dehydration and problems with blood pressure. Always obey the rules before entering a steam room. Lastly, the weight loss is only temporary. As soon as you’re fully rehydrated, the body will absorb all the water and weight gain should be expected.
4. Steam rooms can help with lung diseases such as Emphysema.
What is emphysema? Emphysema is a condition in which alveoli, small air sacks in the lungs, become inflamed, damaged or in more serious cases, destroyed. (4) This may cause excessive coughing and the feeling of breathlessness with light activities. Most patients diagnosed with emphysema are smokers or people exposed to too much air pollution.
Regular visits to steam rooms can help prevent emphysema. In order to reap the full benefits of steam therapy, people should take long, deep inhales through the mouth while inside the steam room.
5. Frequent visits to the steam room support natural body detoxification.
Through sweating, the body gets rid of waste products and toxins built up in the body. Spending as little as 20 minutes or even less in the steam room can flush the body clean of toxins. How does it work? By inducing hyperthermia, defined as body temperature rising above normal levels which is artificially induced for therapeutic purposes, the high heat in the steam room proved effective in supporting the elimination of toxins by sweating.
According to Dr. Zane Gard, a board-certified kinesiologist, microorganisms cannot survive once their host’s body temperature increases over the normal threshold. (5) This makes it easier for the body to flush them out. Dr. Gard suggests that hyperthermia or heat stress detoxification is a very effective body cleansing solution that helps remove fat-deposited toxins.
6. Steam and heat can treat heart disease.
An annual global death toll of 17.3 million people is caused by heart disease and is expected to grow in the coming years. (6) Heart disease is caused by genetic predisposition, an unhealthy lifestyle which includes poor nutrition and being too sedentary. The best preventive methods for heart disease is to get rid of unhealthy habits such as smoking and/or drinking, and adopting a proper nutrition plan with regular exercise. Unfortunately, many individuals have difficulty with change which requires more passive methods for prevention.
Scientific research reveals that while sitting in a steam room, the body reacts to humidity and heat in the same way it reacts to mild exercise. In this way, the high heat and steam stimulate cardiac activity by exercising the cardiac muscle without exhausting it, strengthening it without risking any damage or injury to the heart. (7)
7. High heat stimulates blood flow.
Improved blood flow benefits the body in numerous ways. Some examples include preventing heart disease, regulating blood pressure, flushing away toxins built up in the body, and much more.
The heat present in steam rooms causes the capillaries to dilate making blood flow more efficient throughout the entire body. (8) Additionally, more oxygen is transported making you feel refreshed and energized.
8. Steam rooms provide better recovery after intense workout sessions.
After grueling workout sessions, the body is pushed to its limits and micro tears in the muscles are accumulated. Additionally, lactic acid build up is also present in the muscles worked during weight training sessions.
In order to speed up recovery from workout sessions and to promote relaxation, quick steam room sessions are recommended. As mentioned earlier, blood flow is enhanced which helps flush away lactic acid build up and brings fresh blood to all areas of the body which helps with faster recovery. (9)
9. Visiting steam rooms often makes you socialize more.
In ancient times, steam baths were a venue for people to socialize. Socializing is healthy for both mental and physical health. Interacting with others is a great way to stay motivated and to keep healthy habits. (10) It is not recommended to go into steam rooms alone and is actually against the rules in some places due to the risk of dehydration and other health hazards.
10. Steam rooms make shaving easier and smoother.
Generally, shaving in the steam room is prohibited by many health clubs. However, if you do get the chance to do it, you will certainly discover that shaving becomes a lot easier (this applies to both men and women).
The high heat in the steam rooms causes the pores to open up, making shaving not only more tolerable but effortless. (11) The steam moistens the skin and helps the blade run smoothly over it, giving you the best shave ever while preventing irritation usually caused by the razor blade. When you enter the steam room, make sure to leave the shaving foam canister outside to avoid any incident due to it being a pressurized container.
Despite its numerous health benefits, extended exposure to heat in the steam room or sauna may cause excessive thirst as a first sign of dehydration and even dizziness and high pulse due to accelerated heart beat. Always have someone else in the steam room with you.
Hopefully we have managed to cast some light on a topic people know little about and have discarded the myths revolving around the potential harmful effect that steam baths might have on cardiac patients. If exposure to heat and steam does not exceed the maximum recommended amount of time (for individuals suffering from any form of heart disease), visiting the steam room from time to time can only give you a variety of health benefits and an energy boost while facilitating interaction with other people.
Whether you visit the steam room after intense workouts or a busy day at the office, spending some time in the steam room can be extremely beneficial to both the body and the mind.