The healing potential of steam extends beyond mere relaxation. From helping to elevate mood to increasing metabolism, steam rooms have an important role to play in your overall wellness program.
To many Americans it’s still an exotic concept, a luxury reserved for the ultra-rich and severe Scandinavians, but residential steam rooms are gradually becoming a valuable tool for everyday people to help improve overall health and wellness. The power of steam therapy has long been valued by elite athletes, but now weekend warriors are catching on to the benefits of sitting in a steam room after a hard training session. And scientific research continues to prove that the effects of steam are more potent than even its most enthusiastic practitioners believed.
How? Steam rooms deliver multiple benefits, but let’s consider five in particular that apply to anyone who’s concerned about maintaining—and improving—their wellness profile.
Five Fitness and Wellness Health Benefits of Steam Rooms
1. Steam to help elevate mood and reduce stress
Steam helps elevate mood and reduce stress. Serotonin, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, is a powerful mood regulator in the central nervous system.
Steam can affect heat-sensitive neurons that help boost serotonin, along with melatonin, an important hormone that helps you relax. Researchers believe this is due to a thermo-sensitive part of the brain called the dorsal raphe nucleus.
Whatever mechanism is responsible, everyday anecdotal evidence supports that a session in the steam room can go a long way to elevating your mood and reducing stress.
2. Steam to help increase metabolism
Steam helps increase metabolism. Sure, you’ll lose excess water weight through sweat in a steam room, but the thermic effect of a steam session can also help increase your metabolism, sometimes by as much as 20%.
Our bodies need to generate heat to keep chemical processes that run our physiological systems functioning, and steam aids in doing that. Steam also helps boost circulation, which helps flush toxins and harmful substances like cholesterol from your body.>> Reference: 8 Ways to Speed Up Your Metabolism
3. Steam to help detox your system
Steam helps detox your system. As we said above, steam therapy may have a potent effect on eliminating dangerous toxins from your body, not only through your pores via sweat, but by increasing circulation in the lymphatic system.
One study found that steam even helped lower mercury levels in the bloodstream, an impressive feat considering the difficulty in eliminating the heavy metal from the body.
A session in a steam room can also reduce sodium content, important for many Americans who suffer from high sodium levels.
4. Steam to reduce inflammation
Steam helps reduce inflammation. Scientists continue to find that inflammation is behind many serious diseases and chronic ailments, but even minor aches and pains are relieved by a reduction in inflammation. Steam therapy has a beneficial effect on muscular and cellular inflammation through a hormonal response.
By reaching deep into the cells, this anti-inflammatory response can help reduce stress and boost your immune response. Those with joint disorders report that steam rooms help them relieve arthritic pain, improving functional ability.
5. Steam, energy and endurance
Steam helps increase energy and endurance. Steam is a go-to therapy for many athletes to improve performance, and now we know why.
Through a process called thermic conditioning, steam therapy may increase your physical stamina and exercise endurance. In a study in the Journal of Science Medicine & Sport, researchers discovered that two 30-minute sessions in a sauna or steam room per week increased endurance output by 32%! Jacking up endurance threshold by a third is an astonishing improvement.
None of these benefits are a surprise to those who use steam rooms on a regular basis. What many people don’t know is why steam therapy may be superior to other heat-related treatments.
Steam vs. Dry Heat: All Heat is Not Created Equal
Compared to the dry heat of saunas, steam can deliver more potent benefits through its ability to rejuvenate skin and flush toxins. The intense and refreshing humidity of steam can also help provide tremendous relief to the respiratory system by shrinking the mucous membranes. This can be a great benefit to those who suffer from congestion, sinusitis, asthma, and other temporary or chronic respiratory disorders.
>> Reference: Steam Room Benefits for Your Health
The moist heat of steam also provides a more thorough cleansing of the skin by providing greater condensation to rinse toxins, dead skin, and bacterial detritus that attaches to the epidermis. This helps improve skin complexion as well. Dry heat may not be as effective in removing these damaging waste products trapped in skin.
Steam also may offer unique effects in lowering blood pressure. Aldosterone, a hormone that regulates blood pressure, is released when sitting in a steam room, which aids in relieving hypertension. The moist heat of steam helps release infection-fighting cells called leukocytes, which can help boost your immune system. With cold season quickly coming upon us, steam rooms may be another weapon in your arsenal to stave off infection and illness.
Then there’s the simple pleasurable effect of moist heat. People report feeling rejuvenated and relaxed. Many say they sleep better after spending time in a steam room, and even those with insomnia say steam helps them get a good night’s rest.
Hyperthermic therapy of different types provide similar benefits, but steam is unique due to the cleansing humidity that digs deeper to flush out and wash away waste elements and toxins from tissue.
Intrigued with How Steam Helps Boost Fitness and Wellness?
Better skin, better sleep, a stronger immune system—anybody interested in living their best, healthy life will do themselves a favor by adding steam therapy to their overall wellness plan.