A steam room is created when a water-filled generator pumps steam into an enclosed space so there is moisture in the air when people are sitting in it.
There are several health benefits associated with a steam room, each of which is described here.
Sitting in a steam room has been shown to have beneficial effects on 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. 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.
Steam rooms may help to remove toxins from the skin, and are popular for improving 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 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 can decrease the force needed to move the joint by up to 25 percent compared to cold application.
Steam rooms can also help reduce joint pain.
Being in the heat 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.
Steam rooms may help to burn calories, although they have not been proven to aid weight loss.
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 afterward to avoid dehydration.
However, alongside a healthy diet and exercise plan, the use of a steam room can help burn calories.
How is it different from a sauna?
A steam room provides moist heat, as opposed to a sauna which has dry heat.
Steam rooms and saunas are similar as both are 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 while steam rooms are filled with moist heat, a sauna provides dry heat from a wood or electric stove.
A sauna is wood-paneled, and the stove heats rocks that, in turn, 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.
While there are lots of 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 15 to 20 minutes inside. It is important to drink plenty of water beforehand, as well.
A steam room also provides the ideal environment for certain types of 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 adviseable to wear a towel and flip-flops or shower shoes when inside a steam room.
Due to the extreme heat in steam rooms, there are certain people who are advised to avoid them:
- pregnant women
- anyone with heart disease
- those with very low or high blood pressure
- anyone with epilepsy
- those taking antibiotics
- users of mind-altering drugs, such as stimulants, tranquilizers, or alcohol
If someone has any concerns about using a steam room, they should check with a doctor first.