Sweating is good for us, scientists have determined. But we surround ourselves with air conditioning in the hot and humid summer days and try our best not to sweat. What a contradiction? Not really. We need to sweat, but as a human beings and social animals we want to choose where we sweat and when.
The benefits of raising our core body temperature have been known and practiced in cold climate areas for millennium. You can find it in Europe in the form of old stone steam rooms in Finland and Sweden. You can also find the Turkish Hammam and the Japanese sauna.
It was always considered a purifying experience. The action the body takes to cool itself down – sweating – is known for its detoxification effect on the body. With increased heat, all the sweat pores open, allowing the sweat to pass through. Pores that have been blocked by antiperspirant, synthetic clothing, environment, pollens and animal dandruff are unblocked.
The famous actor Paul Newman was notorious for his young drinking habits. He used to smoke, party at night and show up on the set the next morning as if nothing had happened.
How did he do it?
A fellow actor spilled the beans; he would take a steam bath every morning to start the blood flowing, followed by an icy cold shower. He would sweat out the smell of alcohol and whatever of it that was still left in his body, stimulate the blood and rush it to his brain. No doubt the cold shower would finally wake him up.
Some say that as much as 30% of our body’s waste can be removed through perspiration.
The increase in core body temperature causes the blood to thin, as it rushes to supply the cells with food for the cooling to take place.
With this action, capillary veins open and blood is supplied to the end of the extremities, an important element for those who are suffering from poor blood circulation, as is the case of diabetes.
Some people say they seem to sweat more in a steam room than in a dry sauna.
It is not always the case.
The sweat in the dry sauna evaporates immediately while in the steam room it stays on the body because of the high humidity in the air. Not only that, steam rooms can produce the same effect as dry saunas with less heat. The cooling action of the body is slowed down because the sweat does not evaporate as it does in dry sauna.
In traditional wet saunas or steam rooms, rocks would be heated with fire and water poured on them to produce steam.
Modern steam rooms are heated by steam generator and it is fed into an almost air tight room. This way the humidity in a room can reach almost 100%. Those rooms are usually constructed with a slanted ceiling to prevent the condensation from dripping on the users. They are usually constructed from tile and wood.
What health benefits steam room brings?
Decongestant: the benefits of steam rooms does not end there.
Unlike dry saunas, steam rooms are an excellent decongestant. Problems such as sinus congestion or asthma can be eased with the high humidity. In cases of stuffy nose and congestion most doctors recommend increasing the humidity in the room anyway.
The skin: benefits from steam rooms as well.
Beauticians clean the face with steam, don’t they? It leaves the face with a beautiful, healthy glow. If it’s good for the face, imagine what it does to the whole body. It helps get rid of dead skin cells and acts as an nonabrasive peeling.
As for pain relief, steam rooms are excellent in soothing sore muscles and joint pain. The increased blood flow to the exhausted muscles cells, shortens the recuperating time. Joint pain, as the result of rheumatoid arthritis will get easier because movement becomes tolerable and with that increased movement through exercise.
Stress: Steam rooms have benefits in releasing stress as well.
Whether it is the heat, the sweat or the fact that you have committed yourself to doing nothing for the next few minutes (you can’t take reading materiel or electronics into a steam room), help in reducing stress. It is also speculated that the amount of adrenaline released into the blood stream is reduced with the increase of heat.
What to watch for:
- Steam rooms may cause dehydration because you sweat out most of the water in your body. It is important to stay hydrated even if you do not feel the thirst. Limiting the time to 30 minutes or less is usually safe for most healthy people. If you feel faintness leave the room immediately. You might be suffering from dehydration.
- Pregnant women, young children and those with low blood pressure and cardiovascular problems should consult a physician before starting using a steam room.