The Potential Benefits of a Steam Room Even in Hot & Humid Locations
Think those living in humid climates can’t benefit from steam therapy? Think again. Here’s why steam rooms may provide a ton of wellness advantages—even for those who live in humid, hot-weather regions.
You’ve heard people say it on extremely hot days: “It feels like a steam room out there!”
People who live in high-temperature climates, especially tropical areas, are used to hearing that line. But when you drill down to the actual physical properties of steam and humidity, what you feel outside is nothing like what you encounter in a steam room.
Here’s a quick summation: steam is water in a gas stage; humidity is water dissolved into air. Without going into the laws of thermodynamics (enthalpy of vaporization, anyone?), let’s just say that steam is invisible until a mist-like substance is formed as water vapor condenses.
The properties of steam and humidity may seem insignificant to many, but there’s a huge difference between steam rooms and airborne humidity. It comes down to this: a steam room is a controlled environment. Humid weather is saturated with the toxins and impurities that circulate in the air. Depending on where you’re located, even a tropical beach setting, the humidity is carrying the hazards of environmental pollutants and allergens.
So, when you say, “It’s like a steam room out here,” you’re scientifically off base. (We’ll forgive you. We know what you mean.) But this basic fact is important for those who wonder why anybody living in humid climates would gain an advantage from steam rooms.
It may help to understand the potential benefits that steam rooms provide to those who want to maintain and improve their health—in any geographic region.
Hot Stuff That’s Not Full of Stuff
Humid air—outdoors and indoors—results from a number of causes, not just high temperatures and changes in barometric pressure. For instance, one cause of humidity common in the Midwest is evapotranspiration. That mouthful of a word is also known as “corn sweat.” Corn sweat is the result of crops giving off moisture, which then lingers in the air as an extra layer of humidity. That’s right—all this time you may have been breathing in corn sweat.
That’s just one example of how humid air can carry impurities, pollutants, and allergens that you may be unaware of. In contrast, steam rooms are clean, controlled, and never contain corn sweat. When you’re in a steam room, you’re already ahead of the game in gaining a boost in your wellness profile because you aren’t exposed to the bad stuff in the air.
With that in mind, here are other reasons why a session in a steam room is nothing like experiencing climate humidity.
Humidity, Steam, & Breathing
When you expose your body to environmental humidity, you’re absorbing those toxins that fill the air. You’re not just absorbing these impurities through your skin (see below), you’re breathing in these potentially harmful impurities through your respiratory system. This includes allergens that can worsen asthma, nasal allergies, and other respiratory ailments.
Contrast those unhealthy effects to steam therapy. Research shows that steam rooms can help alleviate bronchitis, asthma, and nasal allergies. Steam has been shown to help expunge mucus and soothe symptoms associated with respiratory issues. Potentially breathing easier as a result of a session in a steam room is one of the reasons people have steam baths and steam showers in their residences in the first place. You don’t get those effects outside in humid air.
Humidity, Steam, & Skin
Dirty, humid air can also clog your skin with impurities, and you know where that leads. Toxins impacted in your epidermis don’t just create conditions for acne and other skin eruptions, they seep deeper beyond the layers of your skin until they reach your bloodstream.
Steam therapy has been shown to act in the opposite way, cleansing your skin, helping you avoid the conditions that cause clogged pores. While “dirty” humid air clogs your skin, steam from a professional steam room helps open pores and lubricate the skin. Research has also found that a steam room may help hydrate the “stratum corneum” layers of the epidermis, which acts as a protective barrier against toxins and germs. Then the sweat produced by the steam room may help wash away the impurities, leaving you with a healthy glow.
Your skin should feel clean and rejuvenated after a steam room session. Contrast that with a day out in humid, muggy air, when your first thought is taking a shower. When it comes to skin integrity, steam vs. humidity is no contest.
Humidity, Steam, & Exercise
Whether you exercise indoors or outdoors, the controlled environment of a steam room provides benefits to your post-workout recovery in a way that everyday humid air doesn’t. A session in a steam room may help tired muscles recover from intense exercise by helping to potentially remove lactic acid. Steam therapy may also help improve muscular flexibility and joint discomfort.
How, you may ask, does a steam room do these things while regular humid air does not? Again, it’s the application of the controlled environment of a steam room, as steam heat is carefully calibrated to maintain a consistent temperature in a clean enclosure. Humidity in other environments doesn’t deliver this targeted application of heat in a pristine setting. Again, when it comes to the potential benefits for active people, steam therapy vs. humidity is no contest.
Humidity, Steam, Stress, & Augmented Therapies
This is where the greatest separation exists between steam therapy and humidity. Sessions in a steam room may help reduce stress and foster relaxation. This occurs through several mechanisms, one of which is steam therapy’s potential effect on neurochemicals and hormones. Steam may help increase serotonin and endorphins, which both can have dramatic effects on mood and stress reduction. Sessions in a steam room may also help you manage cortisol levels, the “flight-or-flight” hormone that has been shown to damage the body when it’s at high stress levels. Studies have also shown steam may help the body relax and enhance mood.
Of course, the calm environment of a residential steam bath or shower is like no environment in the open air, even in tropical locations. You’re alone, enclosed in a tranquil setting, your muscles and nerves relaxing just from the serenity of a steam room environment.
Then there’s the potential advantages of augmented therapies that a high-quality steam room system provide. Steam rooms can be combined with aromatherapy (infusion of essential oils), chromatherapy (light therapy), and music therapy. With simple installations, you can relax and take in the scents of lavender or eucalyptus oils, or listen to music carefully selected to elicit mental and physical stimuli for mind and body. Even colored lighting can be calibrated to create carefully researched effects that may help you relax and rejuvenate.
MrSteam offers chromatherapy, music therapy, and aromatherapy systems that easily install into residential steam rooms that are proven to increase the already significant wellness effects of steam therapy.
Steam Rooms: Unmatched Benefits
When you add it up, steam rooms have the advantage when it comes to providing a holistic wellness experience that may help improve mind and body in a way that a natural humid environment could never match. Look into a residential steam room today and see how you can get the daily benefits of steam therapy—even if it does “feel like a steam room out there.”