After a hot and sweaty workout, it may not be too tempting to jump into a sweltering steam bath. However, saunas and steam baths can have many health benefits for active people. Some recent evidence also indicates that a post-exercise stint in the steam bath or sauna can improve performance for endurance athletes.
A steam room can improve your health in several ways.
Sitting in a steam room might significantly improve your cardiovascular health. A study of older individuals showed that moist heat improved circulation, especially in extremities. Improved circulation can lead to lowered blood pressure and a healthier heart. It can also promote healing of broken skin tissue.
Lowers blood pressure
Research shows that in a steam room, some people’s bodies release hormones that change their heart rate. One of these hormones, called aldosterone, regulates your blood pressure. When aldosterone is released from sitting in the steam room, it can help lower high blood pressure. This is part of the reason that the steam room makes you feel relaxed.
Being in the steam room can also decrease your body’s production of cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone that regulates the level of stress that you feel. When your cortisol levels drop, you feel more in control and relaxed. Spending a few minutes in a relaxed state not only improves your health, but also helps heal your mind and improve your focus.
Promotes skin health
Through environmental exposure, all sorts of toxins can become trapped underneath your skin. Steam rooms help solve that problem by using heat to open up your pores. The warm condensation rinses away the dirt and dead skin that can lead to breakouts. As a result, you may have clearer and more even-toned skin.
When you’re in the steam room or sauna, your heart rate increases. If you use a steam room after an aerobic workout, your heart rate is already elevated, and the steam room can prolong that elevation. When used correctly, experts note that saunas and steam rooms stimulate your body in ways that typical exercise does not.
Sweating it out in the steam room isn’t a tool to lose weight quickly. Any weight you lose in the steam room is water weight, and you’ll need to replace it by drinking water to avoid dehydration. But using steam rooms regularly as a way to burn more calories at the gym could help your diet and exercise routine be more effective.