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Why Steam Rooms Should Be a Regular Part of Your Wellness Lifestyle

Updated: May 10, 2018

Heat Up the Wellness Revolution!

Here’s why steam rooms should be a regular part of your wellness lifestyle.

The wellness revolution is here to stay. Whether it’s based in mindfulness, sound nutrition, or other lifestyle choices, people these days are focused on building an overall wellness plan instead of working on specific targets like weight-loss and sleep quality.

All health markers are intrinsically linked.

There’s a good reason for that. Because of growing research, more people realize that all health markers are intrinsically linked. If one aspect of your life is out of whack, it affects other systems in your body. Using the two examples above, weight gain is often linked to poor sleep habits, meaning that diet and nutrition aren’t the only components of weight management. You need a holistic approach, and a wellness lifestyle is all about keeping your life in balance and harmony.

Wellness is also crucial for overall happiness, that elusive goal that has birthed an industry. Happiness research, actual scientific inquiry into what fulfills human endeavor, has become a huge market,[1] evidenced by the volume of books available on the subject. We’re all looking for a happy life.

Much of what experts have learned—as well as everyday people through their own experiences—is that happiness doesn’t come with a price tag. It’s not about income or material objects. As famed psychologist Daniel Kahneman puts it: “Ditch the consumer lifestyle, and consume life instead!”[2]

It starts with embracing wellness. The seven dimensions of wellness are physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, environmental, and occupational.[3] There’s a reason why “physical” is listed first. As with Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of self-actualization,[4] attending to physical needs and maintaining health are the foundation of any fulfilling life.

Health is wealth.

According to experts at the University of California, Riverside: “Physical Wellness is the ability to maintain a healthy quality of life that allows us to get through our daily activities without undue fatigue or physical stress.”[5]

As the saying goes, health is wealth. You need a wellness routine that accounts for all of your mental and physical needs to harmonize your health.

It’s harder than it sounds. But what you may not realize is that one of the simplest ways you can increase your overall wellness is by regularly using a steam room. Regular steam therapy sessions can have a powerful effect on a surprising number of physiological systems. Steam is a whole-body treatment that can make you feel great, while contributing to your overall health.

Here’s what steam rooms can do for you.

Eight Ways Steam Enhances Your Wellness Lifestyle

1. Steam Will Help You Relax

This is the most obvious benefit of steam rooms. Simply taking a few minutes after a hard day to relax in the controlled humidity of a steam room will help you release tension that’s built up after a tough day. But steam works on a deeper level than simply soothing muscles. According to Medical News Today, steam therapy can help reduce cortisol, the “stress hormone,” that’s released when the body’s in a “fight or flight” response.[6] Controlling cortisol spikes is an essential part of stress management.

Another advantage of steam rooms is that they force you to leave your distractions outside. You would never bring your smartphones and other tech devices in a steam room (we wouldn’t recommend it). This quiet time can be enhanced by aromatherapy and music. Essential oils and healing scents can help provide a wellness boost,[7] and music is a well-known stress reducer, so combining them in a steam session can take you a million miles away from whatever triggered your stress levels.   

2. Steam Will Help You Breathe Easier

The connection to a healthy respiratory system to wellness is an ancient notion found in all forms of yoga and Eastern mysticism. As wellness guru Dr. Andrew Weil puts it, “Breathing is the bridge between mind and body….”[8]

A session in a steam room works on multiple levels to help clear your nasal passages and lungs. Steam is a natural expectorant, and researchers have found steam therapy can help relieve asthma and upper respiratory issues. Steam can open up restricted airways and dislodge mucus and phlegm that may be obstructing normal breathing patterns.[9] A study from India found that inhaling steam can help reduce congestion, even in those with “severe acute lower respiratory tract infection.” Steam helps reduces excessive dryness of mucus membranes, which helps keep your airways open and able to clear easier.[10]

Considering the connection between breathing and wellness, steam rooms can play a crucial role in any overall health program.

3. Steam Will Help Elevate Your Mood

Besides stress reduction, steam therapy can have beneficial effects on critical neurotransmitters that control mood and help ease depression and anxiety. Heat-sensitive neurons in the region of your brain called the  dorsal raphe nucleus can help raise serotonin. Serotonin is known as the “feel good” hormone, and its importance in the regulation of mood and mental balance is well-established. This neurotransmitter is the target of many popular SSRI antidepressants, and finding ways to naturally raise serotonin is part of a balanced wellness lifestyle.[11]

4. Steam Will Help You Detox

Even if you live as healthy as possible, you have to be concerned about environmental toxins affecting your body. Endocrine disruptors such as BPI are hiding in many plastic products (including many plastic containers for food and beverages), and even nutritional products have been found to contain detectable levels of heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium.[12]

That’s a rotten deal—you use a product that’s promoted as “healthy,” only to have it fill your bloodstream with toxic metals. Even organic products can contain “shocking levels” of heavy metals.[13] Our topsoil isn’t what it used to be, and years of industrial pollution have left cadmium, arsenic, lead, nickel, and mercury in the same fields that grow the organic produce

that ends up in your grocery basket.

The bottom line is that even your best efforts at eating a clean diet won’t protect you from ingesting potentially dangerous chemicals. This is where steam therapy can be a savior. Sessions in a steam room have been proven to help eliminate toxins in the body, and one study discovered that steam therapy helped lower mercury levels in the bloodstream.[14] Mercury is a particularly difficult metal to remove from the body, so this is a significant benefit for those looking for a deep detox. Your body’s sweating mechanism does the rest by washing toxic chemicals away after they’ve been flushed out.

5. Steam Will Help Cleanse Your Skin

Skin integrity isn’t just cosmetic, it’s vital for your health. As your body’s largest organ, skin is the first defense against many bacterial and viral environmental health hazards. Steam can open your pores and cleanse your skin of impurities that collect during the day.

It’s a bigger problem than you think. You likely carry many more toxins on your skin than you realize. Dermal exposure to chemicals damage skin on their way to being absorbed.[15] Harmful particulates and pollutants become embedded deep in the “stratum corneum” of

the outer epidermis, which regular washing doesn’t remove.

The dangers are everywhere, even in your cozy home. Recent research has found that everyday household products emit significant amounts of hazardous chemicals. Even the glues used on some furniture products contain formaldehyde.[16] Other airborne pollutants like nitrogen dioxide and benzene can also cause havoc in the body.

A steam room session provides a thorough soaking beyond the surface of your skin. Once dislodged, the sweat carries it from your body.

6. Steam Will Help You Recover from Exercise

Physical activity is a key aspect of any successful wellness plan, and recovery from exercise is crucial for overall results. Steam heat can also fight oxidation in muscle cells that inhibit healing after exercise. This also helps facilitate muscle repair.[17] You are able to recover more quickly, allowing you to continue your exercise regimen without interruption.

7. Steam Will Help Boost Immunity

Sessions in a steam room can also have anti-inflammatory effects that help reduce pain and boost immunity. Steam therapy helps stimulate leukocytes, infection-fighting cells that fight a range of bacterial infections and boost your overall immune response.[18] Steam can also contribute to better circulation. One study found that steam heat dilates small blood vessels, creating better blood flow, which also helps reduce hypertension.[19] A healthy cardiovascular system is key to any wellness profile.

8. Steam May Help with Energy & Weight Management

While the discharge of excess fluid through sweat helps eliminate sodium and toxins, you lose more than water weight after steam room sessions. Heat can help increase growth hormone release, which is a “fountain of youth” hormone that helps the body burn fat.[20]

It’s important to include exercise and healthy eating to aid in weight management, but steam heat can helps burn calories. A healthy weight is essential for overall physical wellness.

Heath therapy will help provide a tremendous boost in endurance and energy. One study found that two 30-minute session in a steam room per week helped athletes increase their endurance output by 32%. That’s a huge increase, and it shows the potential for steam therapy to provide you more energy throughout the day. This helps reduce fatigue and prepares you to take on the world, even late in the day.[21]

Make Steam Part of Your Wellness Routine

It’s important that you use steam rooms safely and regularly. That’s why it should be part of your wellness routine. A steam room delivers a holistic physiological effect on crucial health markers consistent with a wellness lifestyle.

Part of what makes wellness so enriching is that it allows you to slow down and take stock of what’s important in life. The simple act of relaxing in a steam room helps center you no matter what else is happening in your life. So give yourself an advantage in the wellness revolution and give steam therapy a try.

Adapted from

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