Gym members and those on a spa day often ask the Fusion Wellness Leisure Club team how to use the steam room and sauna correctly and what the health benefits are.
It is recommended to use the one or the other, and not both on the same day, as they both have different functions. However a combination throughout the week can be good for your workout regime. The team recommend spending 5 to 10 minutes in the aromatherapy suite first as this will start the relaxation process and open up your pores before entering the steam room or sauna.
What is a steam room? And what is a sauna?
Steam rooms are enclosed spaces that are heated with steam. The temperatures vary but they are typically kept at 43 degrees Fahrenheit. These need to be airtight so the humidity can build up to 100%. A sauna uses a dry heat, usually from hot rocks or a closed stove and is typically between 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Both encourage you to sit in a small space, but the big difference is the type of heat that they provide, but will feel around the same temperature. A sauna will help you relax and loosen your muscles whereas the key to the steam room’s benefits are in the humidity.
Benefits of using a steam room
- Sitting in a steam room has been known to improve cardiovascular health. The moist heat improves circulation which can lower blood pressure and promote a healthier heart.
- All sorts of toxins can become trapped underneath your skin, the steam will open your pores and the warm condensation rinses away the dirt and dead skin that can lead to breakouts. It can also help healing broken skin tissue. As a result, you may have clearer and a more even-toned skin.
- It can also help reduce stress. The steam will decrease your body’s production of cortisol, which is the hormone that regulates the level of stress that you feel.
- Helps clear congestion, as the environment warms the mucous membrane and encourages deep breathing it can help break up any congestion in your sinuses and lungs. Steam therapy is ideal for treating colds and sinus infections.
- The pain you feel after working out is called delayed onset muscle soreness. Heat therapy can help you recover from training. The heat can penetrate deep into muscle tissue and relieve this.
- Warming up before a workout is critical to avoid injury. Using a steam room as part of your warm up can help you reach maximum mobility during activities.
- When you are in a steam room or sauna, your heart rate increases meaning you are burning calories. If you use after an aerobic workout your heart rate is already elevated and the steam room can prolong that elevation.
- Sweating it out in a steam room is not a tool to lose weight quickly. Any weight you lose from a steam room is water weight and you will need to replace it by drinking water afterwards to avoid dehydration. However using it regularly as a way to burn more calories could help your weight loss routine be more effective.
Things to consider when using a steam room
Steam rooms can be harmful if over or misused. Staying in one for more than 15 minutes can dehydrate you. They do also host other people’s germs as the steam is not hot enough to kill some types of bacteria and in some cases the warmth may even increase the number of bacteria.
They also can not treat serious conditions. If your immune system has been compromised, you are recovering from surgery or have a serious illness you should get the all clear and guidance from your doctor before using.
Using a steam room, sauna as well as our hydrospa or Jacuzzi is not recommended during pregnancy. This is because an unborn baby is unable to regulate its body temperature and any increase in your body heat may affect the flow of blood and nutrients to your baby.
Benefits of using a sauna
- Help alleviate stress by using heat therapy. When you are happy your body produces serotonin the powerful relaxation hormone which also helps your mood, appetite, sleep, memory and how you retain information.
- As the heat raises your core body temperature it induces an artificial fever which triggers the body’s natural mechanism to strengthen and accelerate your immune system.
- After a few minutes in the sauna a profuse sweating will be achieved, this will help remove impurities in skin and remove dead skin sells leaving the skin glowing and immaculately clean. The increased circulation will draw the skins natural nutrients to the surface. You should see improved tone, elasticity, texture and a fresh colour.
- With the increase of blood circulation it stimulates the sweat glands releasing a build of up of toxins in the body, especially from alcohol, nicotine and sulfuric acid.
- Sauna therapy has been shown to reduce blood pressure and improve cardio healthy. The heat dilates the blood vessels and reduces the volume of the inner lining, promoting healthy blood pressure.
- Heat therapy is often used to relieve joint and muscle pain. It can help those suffering with arthritis, as well as those with a sprain, muscle spasms and joint stiffness.
- People with asthma may find relief from some symptoms, it may help open the airways, loosen phlegm and reduce stress.
Things to consider when using a sauna
Switching between the heat of the sauna and cold water in the swimming pool is not advisable as it can raise blood pressure. It can also cause blood pressure to fall, so people with low pressure or who have recently had a heart attack should speak to their doctor before using.
As with the steam room, dehydration can occur if over or misused. It is recommended to spend a maximum of 5-10 minutes in the sauna. The increased temperatures can also lead to dizziness and nausea in some people. It is very important to drink plenty of water afterwards.
If you unwell you should wait until fully recovered before using. Again, using during pregnancy is not recommended as the unborn baby is unable to regulate its body temperature and any increase in your body heat may affect the flow of blood and nutrients to your baby.
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