Weight Control & Weight Loss: The Role Steam May Play in Your Health Journey
Stop the fad diets and crazy workouts. Simple lifestyle changes, including regular steam therapy sessions, can be your best solution for weight management.
It’s a constant struggle. Our high-stress, fast-food lifestyles make weight management an everyday battle, and sometimes it seems that you can never win.
Obesity statistics reveal just how common and serious bodyweight issues are for Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity continues to be “common, serious, and costly.” Obesity affects nearly 40% of the population (93.3 million Americans), and those figures are on the rise.
Even for those who aren’t technically obese, achieving your optimum weight for health, appearance, and self-esteem can be a difficult process. That’s why so many turn to fad diets that may work short-term, only to find that the pounds come back shortly after resuming normal eating routines. Rapid weight loss is unsustainable, says the Mayo Clinic, stating, “There is no product, pill or weird foods that will instantaneously make fat disappear.”
It’s about habits and lifestyle. A nutritious diet, regular exercise, and other daily activities can result in the body you want that’s healthy and energized. And the benefits of healthy habits may be greatly enhanced by the simple act of sitting in a home steam shower on a regular basis. Here’s why.
WHAT REALLY WORKS FOR WEIGHT LOSS
How does steam therapy possibly help with weight management? It’s not just from the excess water weight that you’ll sweat out during steam shower sessions, though that’s important. Optimizing body fluids is great for your overall health and weight-loss efforts.
But steam therapy may just do so much more. Hyperthermia at temperatures typical of a steam shower session can burn 150 calories in a 15-minute sitting. While you wouldn’t want to stay in a steam shower longer than 15 minutes (you should start with 10 minutes if you’re new at steam showers), this shows that passive heat could have a positive effect on weight loss.
That’s just the beginning of steam’s potential role in weight management goals. Steam therapy may help augment the effects of other lifestyle changes that promote long-term weight control.
THE “STEAM” LIFESTYLE
It’s no surprise that many people are confused about the best way to lose weight. Headlines with breaking research on weight gain can lead to confusion. The roots of the obesity crisis are blamed on everything from high-fructose corn syrup to sedentary lifestyles caused by dependence on technology. Then there’s the stress factor, a common problem in today’s high-speed society. Stress can release hormones that promote body fat storage on the way to creating other harmful mental and physical effects.
Your weight-loss strategy needs to consider all aspects of your lifestyle choices. You need to develop good habits. Productivity and life coaches will tell you that behavioral changes begin with establishing positive habits in your daily routine. That’s also the ideal approach for weight management.
Forget the quick fix. Here’s a list of behaviors you should be doing, followed by steam therapy’s role in enhancing the benefits of each.
Eat healthy (but still enjoy it). You don’t have to suffer at the dinner table to lose weight. Talk to your doctor or consult a dietitian to develop an eating plan like the Mediterranean diet, which can be satisfying, low-calorie, and very healthy. Other diets like the Dash diet also score well with experts. The U.S. News and World Report has an annual tally of the best diets, so you can start there and discuss options with your health-care representative.
How steam therapy helps: Sessions in a steam may help your diet remain effective by promoting a detox effect in your body. That’s because some foods, even organic fruits and vegetables, contain heavy metals that are present in topsoil after years of pesticide and other farming methods. Also, some food containers are marred with “endocrine disruptors,” such as BPI, that can affect your body fat levels. These endocrine disruptors are also present in some suntan lotions and cosmetics.
The good news is that regular visits in a steam shower may help you remove these toxins from your body. Research has found that these dangerous chemicals can leave your body through the sweating mechanism promoted by steam, which reaches deep into your pores and beyond. This cleansing process may help rid your body of harmful elements that promote weight gain, even if you eat healthy. Sweating in a steam shower may help clear excess sodium from your body, which also helps reduce hypertension.
Exercise regularly. You don’t have to be a CrossFit warrior to reap the benefits of physical activity. While there’s conflicting research on what is the best exercise for weight loss, the science is clear that too much sedentary behavior is bad for your health and your waistline. You have to get moving, even if it’s just a daily stroll around the neighborhood.
How steam therapy helps: There’s a reason why steam rooms have a presence in many health clubs: steam therapy has been shown to help you recover from exercise. Steam may help muscle cells recover from workouts, which makes it easier to stick to a regular schedule because you’re not as fatigued after training.
To get the most out of exercise, you need to have clear lungs and nasal passages. Steam therapy has a long history of helping to relieve breathing problems due to asthma like symptoms or sinus congestion. And those who suffer from exercise-induced asthma like symptoms may get fairly instant relief from spending time in a steam shower. By making exercise more tolerable and helping to enhance recovery, steam showers could make regular exercise an easier habit to maintain.
Hyperthermia from steam therapy may also help relieve stiff joints and promote a reduction in pain from weight-bearing exercise. This, too, helps you maintain your exercise regimen from interruption due to injury or discomfort.
Stress management. The research is clear: Stress leads to weight gain, mostly due to the stress hormone cortisol, also known as the “fight-or-flight” hormone. In fact, stress and inflammation contributes to numerous chronic health problems, with weight gain just one of them. Controlling stress is essential if you’re going to achieve a successful wellness lifestyle and a slim waistline.
How steam therapy may help: Visits to the steam room have been shown in some people to have notable effects on helping you reduce harmful hormones, including cortisol, while increasing the release of neurochemicals that promote relaxation.
Not only might steam therapy help you reduce cortisol, it may help increase endorphins, the “feel good” hormone, that is commonly released after a bout of exercise. Thermal therapy has also been shown to relieve mild symptoms of depression, while promoting feelings of well-being.
Then, of course, there’s the instant nirvana of leaving the day behind and stepping into a clean, quiet steam shower. You’ll be deriving all of these other benefits of steam therapy while you enjoy the immediate soothing effects of the hot steam hugging your dry skin and tired joints. Even better, many home steam showers have options for adding music, aromatherapy, and chromatherapy while you relax in the heat. All of these augmented effects come with their own health benefits, particularly stress relief.
Quality sleep. Researchers have discovered that the link between sleep and weight gain is stronger than previously thought. Sleep deprivation causes changes to hormones, including leptin, which increases the appetite. Not getting enough sleep can also affect metabolism. Says the Mayo Clinic: “In adults, sleeping four hours a night, compared with 10 hours a night, appears to increase hunger and appetite — in particular for calorie-dense foods high in carbohydrates.”
How steam therapy helps: You need to get your 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Studies have shown that passive heat can help improve sleep quality in the elderly, a population that suffers from numerous sleep disorders. Hyperthermia from steam therapy may also help you sleep deeper by promoting longer REM cycles during the night. And considering steam therapy’s effects on stress and relaxation noted above, you should find it easier to get quality shut-eye after integrating steam shower sessions into your daily routine. And steam’s effect on respiratory health can also come in handy when it’s time to relax and go to sleep.
WEIGHT CONTROL IS HEALTH CONTROL
Using heat to look hot has a nice symmetry to it, but a wellness lifestyle that includes regular sessions in a steam shower delivers multiple benefits that can help you avoid chronic health problems that plague many Americans. Obesity is just one of them.
You’ll do yourself and your family a great favor by looking into adding a steam shower to your residence. Looking good by keeping your weight in check is great for your self-esteem, but maintaining a healthy weight with the help of steam delivers far more benefits than improving personal appearance.