I know how it is. You go to the gym and give yourself JUST enough time for your workout and perhaps a couple rushed stretches. Many gyms have saunas or steam rooms that in today’s rushed world, it seems like barely anyone takes advantage of. It’s like another thing to add to your time at the gym and although in reality you only have to spend a few minutes to reap the benefits, a few minutes is too many. I get it.
However, I recently started taking advantage of my gym’s steam room and noticed a rapid improvement in my skin, so I decided to look into the benefits of both so you can decide if it’s something worth adding to your routine! Whether your gym has a steam room, a sauna, or both, both are fantastic to add to your workout routine for many reasons. While benefits do differ a bit between the two because of the different kinds of heat (dry vs. humid), adding either to your routine will benefit you in many ways. Shall we?
1. Reduces Stress
We all carry some sort of stress. Sitting in a sauna or steam room forces you to step away from stressors and can even put you in a similar state to meditation. Take a few minutes to close your eyes and focus on your breathing while you’re sitting in one.
2. Improves Circulation
Due to the heat, blood flows freely and easily through the whole body, transporting oxygen seamlessly, leaving you feeling refreshed.
3. Lowers Blood Pressure
With improved circulation comes a healthy heart and lowered blood pressure. Win!
4. Relieves Tension
The heat soothes your nerve endings and also warms and relaxes your muscles. It can also act as a preventative measure against tension if you have it frequently. I commonly get migraines and notice that this new habit decreased the frequency of them.
5. Clears Congestion
If you have a cold or sinus infection, sitting in a steam room is a great remedy to help open up the sinuses and encourage deep breathing. I love the immediate feeling of clear sinuses when I walk into the steam room (Sorry, TMI I guess.)
6. Promotes Skin Health
The steam room is best for this. It completely opens up your pores while also rinsing away the dirt and dead skin. Then, wala! You’re left with clear and evenly toned skin!
7. Aids Muscle Recovery
Both are great, but the steam room is better for this one too. Muscle recovery is expedited in response to a hot environment. It can even help improve athletic performance from the speedy recovery.
8. Removes Toxins
Sweating removes toxins from the body, so sweating it out a bit more in either the sauna or steam room can rid the body of an entire day’s sweat and toxins.
9. Relieves Joint Pain and Stiffness
Saunas and steam rooms have shown to help those with arthritis and joint pain. The heat can also cause temporary pain relief.
10. Burns Calories
In the heat of a sauna or steam room, your heart rate will increase, ultimately helping you burn a few extra cals. Which leads me to the next question I know you’d ask…
Will either help me lose weight?
A common misperception with saunas and steam rooms are that if you sit in either frequently enough, you’ll drop a few pounds. If you use either regularly enough, it can help you burn enough calories to shed a couple pounds. However, you should know that any weight you lose is water weight and you’d need to replace it by drinking water to avoid dehydration. And while we’re on the topic of dehydration, you shouldn’t use a steam room for more than 15 minutes for that reason exactly.
Is one better than the other?
There are many gyms with both saunas and steam rooms. How do you decide which to use? Truthfully, each has their own benefit. While saunas definitely help to relax your muscles and lower your blood pressure, the steam room focuses on overall detoxification of the body. Many health benefits listed above particularly come from the humidity of the steam room. My vote is the steam room.
Now.. How can you seamlessly incorporate the sauna or steam room into your workout routine?
As I mentioned earlier, I understand the tight schedule of a workout with your day to day. It’s also important to make sure you take a few minutes to stretch, so I can definitely understand the intimidation of adding another thing to your workout routine. Recently, I’ve used my steam room time to stretch. It’s a double whammy. Boom, there ya go!
It’s never too late to start creating new habits for the new year. Start experiencing the benefits from such a simple tweak to your workout routine!