So I was in a Steam room today after a good session in the gym and I was wondering while sitting there (because really there isn’t anything else to do whilst sitting there other than wonder, right?) why is this good for me?
Well, I came back, did a little research, added my own experiences and here are 5 benefits I see of using steam rooms and saunas:
They cleanse the skin. The heat opens the pores allowing all the dirt and grease to come out. Sweating also helps flush out any toxins and the increased blood flow promotes the healing of any skin cuts, sun burn etc. This makes saunas great as part of a detoxing program. I have to say this is always the main reason I go in- as a woman who enjoys having nice radiant skin, a good steam promotes this and is way cheaper than a facial.
Here is a point I didn’t know but found in my research. It decreases your chances of catching cold and flu as your increased body temperature tricks it into thinking you have a fever which in turn stimulates your internal organs, especially the immune system.
Now this point I know because between the heat and my small fear of enclosed spaces, I always have a racing heart whilst sitting in there and I now I know it is actually good for you! The heart rate increases from the temperature of a sauna or steam room which can be the equivalent of doing physical activity like taking a brisk walk. They can also help with weight loss as you can burn several hundred calories per session.
However, they are not replacements for actual physical activity. Combine it with a healthy regime for the full benefit.
Steam rooms in particular are great for respiratory problems. Having been a croop sufferer as a child and being put into hot, steamy bathrooms, this is a great benefit. The steam and warm air loosens all that nasty mucous from the lungs and throat, as well as relieving any inflammation and swelling. Often steam rooms I have been in have a mentholated tang to the air too which helps with this.
They can be very good for relaxing after a hard day at work, and loosening muscles after physical exercise. This makes them ideal for reducing stress and recharging the body.
There are some important safety issues to be aware of before you rush to a health spa. Temperatures can be very high in saunas. Only go in if you can comfortably cope. To be honest with you due to my own issues I cannot stay in there longer than 5-10 minutes, though the suggested session is usually between ten and twenty minutes, leave if you are starting to feel ill or too hot. Also, make sure you are well hydrated before, during and after.
Finally, because saunas and steam rooms increase the heart rate if you have any blood pressure, heart issues or are pregnant, you may want to get a medical opinion before using them.