Sunday, February 16, 2014

Steaming It Up in the Name of Health

As this exceptionally brutal Minnesota winter drags on this week and seems to be never ending, I have taken to using my gym’s steam room.  Ahhhhhh . . . I love the opportunity to warm up and relax in there. And as I feel what intuitively must be positive health effects for my body, I started to wonder what the actual known benefits are of steaming things up. So I did a little searching and this is why you should join me in the steam room.

Increased Blood Flow in the Body
It increases blood flow, which can; alleviate stiff joints, relax sore muscles, and sooth pain. In a research article in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology they found that steam baths can be effective in aiding with muscle recovery1.  So get in there after a tough workout or if you have a stiff neck/back after a long day at the office.

They Have Stood the Test of Time – This is No Health Fad!
Steam baths have been around for thousands of years. Most major cultures around the world have used some form of steam baths throughout time - the ancient Greeks and Romans, Mayans, Japanese and Islamic cultures just to name a few. The oldest found sweat ritual structure was Celtic and dates back to 1500 B.C.

Many indigenous cultures have acknowledged the sacred benefits of it for years.  An example close to home would be that of many Native American tribes and their sweat lodges.  They say doing a traditional sweat can be used to cleanse the spirit, heal and mediate and release negative emotions.

Glowing Skin, improved respiratory health and more . . .
There are plenty of other health benefit claims for steam baths that haven’t been looked at in research yet such as; aids weight loss, improves skin as it opens up pores and moisturizes it, improves respiratory health, and fights off colds

But don’t take my word for it, get in the nearest steam bath and do your own research on the benefits of using a steam room.  At the least you will warm up and relax. What’s there to lose?  Trust me, it feels ahhhhhh- mazing!

1 Lee, S., Ishibashi, S., Shimomura, Y., & Katsuura, T. (2012). Physiological functions of the effects of the different bathing method on recovery from local muscle fatigue. Journal of Physiology Anthropology, 16; 31:26

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