A steam room is a heated room that people use to relax and relieve some medical conditions. Gyms or spas often have a steam room.

A steam room is created when a water-filled generator pumps steam into an enclosed space, creating moisture in the air.

The temperature inside a steam room is generally around 100–110°F with a high humidity level.

Boys enjoying the steamShare on Pinterest
Jasmin Merdan/Getty Images

Steam rooms have several health benefits.

Improves circulation

Sitting in a steam room has been shown to benefit the cardiovascular system, particularly in older people.

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. This allows blood to flow more easily and transport oxygen around the body.

Steam room therapy can also help reduce blood pressure, keep the heart healthier, and help repair broken skin tissue caused by wounds, such as ulcers.

Learn how to improve circulation here.

Skin health

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 may help treat acne.

However, unlike a sauna, a steam room also helps remove the toxins trapped below the skin.

Learn all about the skin here.

Workout recovery

A person’s muscles will often feel sore after a workout. This pain is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It is important to relax the muscles after exercise to promote a quick and problem-free 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.

Learn more about muscle soreness after exercise here.

Loosens stiff joints

Using a steam room before a workout can help loosen up the joints and increase flexibility, just as a pre-workout warm-up does.

A 2013 study showed that applying moist heat to a joint had healing benefits similar to using dry heat, but the application time was much shorter.

Steam rooms can also help reduce joint pain.

Learn more about joint pain here.

Reduces stress

The heat of a steam room can make the body release endorphins. They are known as ‘feel good’ hormones because they help reduce stress in the body.

Relaxing in a steam room can also decrease cortisol levels, which is a hormone the body releases in response to stress. When the cortisol level drops, people can feel more in control, relaxed, and rejuvenated.

Learn how to reduce cortisol levels here.

Opens up sinuses

The heat from a steam room opens up the mucous membranes around the body, allowing deeper, easier breathing.

The steam from a steam room can break up the congestion in the sinuses and lungs and, therefore, might help treat colds, unblock sinuses, and aid breathing.

Learn about other ways to clear sinus congestion here.

Burns calories

When a person is inside a steam room, their heart rate increases. Using a steam room after exercise can help prolong an elevated heart rate.

Experts have found that when used alongside a suitable exercise program, the heat generated by the steam room and the sweating it causes can stimulate the body and increase wellness.

There is no scientific evidence to support the belief that using a steam room aids weight loss.

Any weight reduction after using a steam room is typically due to water loss, and people must replace this deficit by drinking water afterward to avoid dehydration.

However, alongside a balanced, nutritious diet and exercise plan, using a steam room can help burn calories.

Learn about some scientific-backed ways to lose weight.

Steam rooms and saunas are similar are both heated rooms used for relaxation and to help relieve symptoms of some medical conditions. However, there are differences between the two.

The key difference is that steam rooms offer moist heat, while a sauna provides dry heat from a wood or electric stove.

A sauna is a wood-paneled space with a stove that heats rocks that radiate heat into the enclosed room.

There will sometimes be a small amount of steam in the room if the user puts water onto the hot rocks.

The temperature in a sauna is usually higher than in a steam room at around 160°F, while the humidity level is much lower.

Learn more about the benefits and risks of saunas here.

While there are many benefits associated with a steam room, people using them should do so with caution and be aware of the risks.

Due to the heat, there is a risk of dehydrating the body, and it is advisable not to spend longer than 10 minutes inside. It is also important to drink plenty of water beforehand.

A steam room also provides the ideal environment for certain bacteria and germs to grow and spread.

Examples of this risk are athlete’s foot and other fungal infections that can thrive in warm, humid conditions. So it is advisable to wear a towel and flip-flops or shower shoes when inside a steam room.

Due to the extreme heat in steam rooms, steam rooms are not suitable for the following people:

It is important to avoid high heat and intense sunlight in general when taking antibiotics and other medications.

Steam rooms offer many health benefits for joints, circulation, skin, and sinuses. They work using a combination of high heat and humidity to relax muscles and soothe nerves.

Steam rooms are not without risk, however. Users should be mindful of possible bacteria and fungi that may thrive in warm, humid environments. Always wear footwear in a steam room.

Also, it’s important to stay hydrated and avoid the heat of saunas and steam rooms if using certain medications.

If someone has any concerns about using a steam room, check with a doctor first.