After a hard workout or a long day, there is nothing more relaxing than a nice, long steam bath!
Lounging the moist, balmy air is exactly what your mind and your body need.
And while you may love the steam room because it helps you decompress, you make also like to know that using s steam room is good for your health, too.
While steam rooms have many of the same benefits as saunas and other forms of heat therapy, you do not use them in precisely the same way.
Not sure what makes a steam room so special?
Or what the protocol is when using one?
Wonder no more, as our guide is here to answer all your questions and more.
What is a Steam Room?
Steam rooms are different from a traditional sauna, which uses dry heat to induce sweating.
Steam rooms are typically heated to around 115 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity inside is kept around 100 percent through the continuous introduction of steam from a steam generator.
Because the interior of a steam room is wet when it is in operation, it is constructed of waterproof materials, like stone, tile, glass, and metal, rather than wood, which would quickly rot in this level of moisture.
Steam rooms are designed in many different ways, depending on if they are to be used in public spaces or in private homes.
Most contain a long bench or multiple benches for people to sit.
The room is designed so that water will drain effectively, usually to the middle of the room.
Steam rooms find their origin in ancient Rome, where the community bath served a large area.
People visited the baths to cleanse but also to socialize and conduct business.
The earliest baths were supplied using water from natural hot springs located beneath the ground.
Unlike former steam baths, where people actually sat in pools of steaming water, today’s steam bath is usually carried out by sitting in steam generated from an electrical heater.
However, you can find hot spring baths, Turkish baths, and other forms of a steam bath in existence today.
Steam rooms are common in public spaces like gyms, and steam showers are an easy option for adding a steam room to any residence.
Steam rooms do not get as hot as a traditional sauna for several reasons.
Because the level of humidity is so much higher than in a sauna (which is less than 20 percent), having high temperatures in the room could result in burns to the skin.
When you sweat in a steam room, the water does not evaporate, which is normally how you cool yourself.
Because of this, you cannot regulate your body temperature as much inside a steam room, so temperatures need to be more moderate.
The use of steam rooms is quite widespread around the world today, and it provides many of the same benefits that you receive from consistent use of a dry sauna.
How to Properly Use a Steam Room
Sitting in a steam room will force your body to sweat, so it is crucial that you are well hydrated before you enter the room.
Before beginning, take a shower to rinse off any sweat, grime, hair products, sunscreen, or makeup.
This will ensure your pores do not become clogged, and you make the steam room more hygienic for the next person who uses it.
Most people prefer to enjoy their steam bath while naked.
If you are in a public steam room and are uncomfortable with this option, you can always wear a towel wrapped around your body.
Because steam rooms are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, you should never sit directly on the bench.
Instead, bring a small towel and use that between you and the surface.
You should also protect your feet by wearing shower shoes, as microbes can grow on the floor of the steam room.
Stay inside the steam room as long as you are comfortable.
Some people like to exit to cool down and then return for a second (or third) sweat.
The choice is yours. You can bring water into the steam room with you to drink if you like.
Whether you drink during your steam bath, but sure that you drink plenty of water after your steam session, as you will have depleted your body of crucial fluids and electrolytes.
After leaving the steam room, shower to cleanse your body of sweat as well as any wastes and toxins you sweated out.
After showering, cool down completely before getting dressed.
Be sure you have stopped sweating before putting your clothes back on.
For those who have not enjoyed a steam bath before, you should limit your time during your first few sessions.
Building up a tolerance for the heat is essential.
Time in the steam bath is for relaxing.
While some people choose to socialize, others prefer to relax, meditate, practice mindfulness, or just enjoy.
Be mindful of others in a public steam room and adhere to the decorum and etiquette for that facility.
If there is no one else in the room, feel free to enjoy a chat with your friends, but keep voices low and measured, as sound can carry off the hard surfaces of these rooms.
When entering and exiting a steam room, do so quickly and purposefully.
The longer the door is open, the more heat and steam escape.
Wait until you are sure before opening the door. Never hold the door for someone else.
Finally, and it is hard to believe that this needs to be said, but you should never (EVER) shave in a steam room.
Ladies and gents have been known to lather up while inside public steam rooms to shave their various parts and pieces, but this is not acceptable or hygienic behavior.
What you do in your own home steam room is up to you. Just be sure you clean up after yourself.
Best Accessories for Steam Rooms
There are not many accessories needed to enjoy your steam room experience.
Because the steam room is a hot and moist environment, you do not want to bring in electronics, which can easily be ruined.
However, there are a few accessories that can improve your experience.
Having a waterproof clock inside your steam room will help you keep track of your steam bath sessions.
You do not want to stay too long inside the steam room, so be sure you have a way of keeping track of your time while inside.
If you are using a public steam room, be sure to wear a waterproof watch.
Many enjoy combining aromatherapy with their steam bath, so essential oils, herbs, and other aromatics are great to have on hand.
If you are using your steam room at home, you have full control over your scent selection.
There are many options from which to choose, and you should read your steam generator’s manual to learn more about how to use it for aromatherapy.
Like saunas, most people have no issues using s steam room.
The biggest concerns for everyone will be dehydration and overheating.
The simplest way to avoid these is to be sure that you drink plenty of water before, during, and after your steam bath to avoid dehydration.
As for overheating, be sure you are paying attention to your body’s signals and, if you start to feel dizzy, lightheaded, or ill, you should leave the steam room immediately.
Other simple precautions include protecting yourself from the bacteria that can grow in the hot, moist steam room environment.
This includes sitting on a towel rather than directly on the bench, wearing shower shoes, and limiting how much you touch the surfaces inside the steam room.
Taking a shower with soap after your steam bath will also remove any microbes that have found their way onto your skin.
You should not spend more than 20-30 minutes inside a steam room at a time.
More than this can lead to severe dehydration and other problems.
Anyone new to steam bathing should limit their time to 10 minutes until they become used to the experience and hot temperatures.
Those who have respiratory problems, such as asthma, should talk with their doctor before using a steam room.
For some, the humid air can aggravate breathing problems.
Those with heart disease may also want to speak with their doctors before use, as some conditions may not respond well to the elevated temperatures.
The high temperatures can aggravate blood pressure problems.
Women who are pregnant are advised to avoid heat therapy altogether, and steam rooms are included in this list of precautions.
Those with epilepsy are advised to avoid steam bathing.
Substances that alter your mind, including alcohol, tranquilizers, and stimulants can be intensified under the extreme conditions of steam baths.
If you have any concerns about your health and using a steam bath, talk with your doctor.
Benefits of Using a Steam Room
Using a steam room has several critical benefits to your health.
These benefits have been widely studied and documented, and below, we explore the most important of these to your wellness.
- Steam Rooms Boost Circulation- The heat of the steam room helps improve your circulation by enhancing vasodilation. This allows blood to flow more easily, which results in better transport of oxygen and nutrients to your cells. This effect is especially pronounced in older people. Steam room therapy also reduced blood pressure, which can protect your heart.
- Steam Improves Skin Health- While helping you to sweat and remove toxins from your body and skin, steam rooms have a beneficial effect. Sweating forces your pores to open, releasing oils and product buildup, which can keep you free from breakouts, too.
- A Steam Can Improve Workout Recovery- Many people enjoy a nice steam bath after working out. The steam room is a wonderful place to relax, and the heat also helps to reduce muscle soreness by soothing nerve endings and relaxing muscles.
- Steam Rooms Lower Stress- The heat of the steam room tells your body to release endorphins, which are hormones that make you feel better and less stressed. While inside the steam room, your body will also produce less cortisol, a stress hormone.
- Steam Bath Boost Calorie Burning- Some people report that they are able to burn more calories, especially after a workout, if they sit inside the steam room. Heat therapy does boost circulation and cellular activity, which could boost metabolism and help burn excess calories.
- Steam Helps Loosen Stiff Joints- Those with arthritis, tendonitis, and other joint problems may feel less tightness, pain, and inflammation when using s steam room regularly. Heat is known to increase flexibility while also reducing pain.
- Steam Loosens Congestion- Those who have a stuffy nose or congested lungs may get some relief from sitting in a steam room. The moist heat allows the mucous membranes to drain, which can help unclog sinuses or airways. Steam therapy has long been used to treat colds and the flu. You should ensure that you do not overheat or get light-headed while inside, but steam rooms are great for those with trouble breathing due to minor infections. Do not use the steam room, though, if you have a fever.
Steam rooms have been a part of the civilized culture for millennia, so it is no surprise they are still wildly popular today.
Whether you are looking to relax stiff muscles, unwind after a grueling day, loosen joints after a tough workout, or just improve your skin, a steam bath is a great choice.
The traditional bath used pools of heated spring water, but today’s modern baths use high-powered steam generators to create the moist, warm experience we all love.
Using a steam room is not difficult and mostly relies on common sense, your preferences, and a little sound judgment.
The next time you have the chance, you should try one out to see what all the fuss is about.