Did you know that steam therapy can help you achieve your workout goals faster? Long-term thermotherapeutic treatments, such as steam therapy and sauna therapy, can possibly mitigate common (and not-so common) health ailments and yield coveted exercise perks—flexibility, endurance, mind-body synergy, improved metabolism, weight loss, and a toned appearance—faster than fitness regimens without one or more thermotherapeutic components.
For centuries, thermotherapy, or heat therapy, has been used for pain relief and rehabilitation purposes. Exposing your body to heat triggers these mechanisms by increasing blood flow, reducing inflammation, relieving joint stiffness, flexing collagen tissues, and relaxing muscles. Increased blood flow also increases the flow of nutrients and oxygen to your body’s cells, which promotes healing.
Intense, detoxifying humidity is what sets steam therapy apart from other forms of heat therapy. Steam rooms located in gyms, spas, or salons are where the healing magic happens, usually after your workout. But briefly exposing muscles and joints to intense heat before your workout is a useful warm-up technique that decreases the risk of injury.
Here is a list of steam therapy’s other health benefits:
You generally sit in a steam room for no more than 20 minutes, sweating profusely while inhaling moisture-filled air generated by a timed and/or temperature-controlled device that releases the hot vapor. Whereas a sauna room’s high temperatures tend to remain constant, steam room temperatures may fluctuate slightly, but 45 degrees Celsius tends to be the health-effective standard temperature at most commercial facilities that provide the service.
You may need time to get acclimated to the steam room environment. The noise of sharply rising steam can be intimidating, and the abundance of steam in tight spaces that you often share with strangers may induce a bit of panic when you first start your steam room regimen. But keep at it! Scientific data concerning steam therapy’s benefits are specific to findings based on long-term and consistent use—ideally 3 to 4 steam sessions per week.
The intense wet heat of steam rooms induces sweat faster and more profusely than the sweat you get from regular exercise. Sweat is not just water, it contains salts, toxins, and nutrients as well. So keeping hydrated during your sweat sessions not only detoxifies, it rejuvenates the skin, especially when you consume a diet rich in healthy nutrients. Steam therapy is meant to complement your post-workout routine. So even though the water weight you lose from steam therapy over time may help to sustain a more svelte appearance, steam therapy is no substitute for losing calories the good old-fashioned way—by raising your heart rate with vigorous activity.