We already gave you five reasons to hit our saunas, so we’re going to keep going with five reasons you should work our eucalyptus steam rooms into your visits too because there is a difference between the two. In a sauna, you’re sitting in dry heat as opposed to the wet heat of a steam room. Both have a lot of similar health benefits, but you’re adding humidity (and did we mention the eucalyptus?) into the mix for a slightly different experience.
1. Helps Workout Recovery
We know it’s a necessary part of the fitness journey, but that doesn’t make delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, any less uncomfortable. Whether it’s a familiar feeling or one that you’re just getting used to, a stop at our steam room can help reduce the pain that follows a great workout. In a 2013 study, researchers had test subjects exercise and then apply either moist or dry heat afterward. Those who immediately used moist heat, like what’s present in a steam room, reported the least pain during recovery.
2. Loosens Stiff Joints
Another study from 2013 indicates that a steam room session could also be beneficial before you jump into your workout as it helps loosen the joints and increase flexibility, kind of like warming up does. Researchers had 20 people apply both heat and cold to their knees and found that heat application can decrease the force needed to move the joint by up to 25% compared to cold application, which may help reduce athletic injuries.
3. Boosts Endurance
A 2007 study that examined the impact of heat therapy on distance runners found that after three weeks of 12 sessions, the subjects increased their time to exhaustion by 32%. That’s a nearly 2% increase in an endurance time trial, which equates to almost four minutes off a three-hour marathon. Researchers noted the change in performance correlated with increases in both plasma volume and red blood cells. This prevents the build up of lactic acid, which helps your muscles work for longer periods of time.
4. Promotes Clearer Skin
If you’ve ever gotten a facial, your esthetician probably put a hot washcloth on your face before getting into your pores. The warm humidity prompts them to open and softens the oil and dirt that’s trapped inside. A steam room is a bit like that. The moist heat opens up pores, so they’re able to release all sorts of junk, and all that freely flowing sweat washes it away, which may contribute to clearer and more even-toned skin. Just follow up your steam room session with a thorough face washing.
5. Reduces Stress & Boosts Mood
The heat from a steam room can prompt the body to release endorphins and other “feel good” chemicals that fight potentially harmful hormones caused by stress, like cortisol. High levels of cortisol have been linked to immune system problems and sleeping issues. Heat can reduce cortisol levels in the blood and stimulate the production of serotonin, or the happy hormone, which counteracts feelings of depression. While it didn’t examine steam rooms specifically, a 2016 study found that heating the skin activated a portion of the brain that’s involved in the regulation of mood.