The Benefits of Saunas & Steam Rooms
Montana winters can be harsh, taking a toll on our skin,
lungs, and immune systems. Kids haven’t had recess or played outside and are
increasing parents’ stress levels. Driving on icy roads can lead to additional
stress on our minds and bodies. Sickness is cycling through schools and
families, and no matter how thick our wool socks or how many layers we put on,
below-zero temps leave us chilled to the bone.
In addition to the bitter cold, the outdoor air is usually
very dry, and we spend a lot of time indoors where heat is running constantly,
drying out the air at our workplaces and homes. Icy winds and sun-on-snow
reflections blister our faces.
Healing Heat in the Bitter Cold
Alas, there is hope and reparation for our winter-worn bodies in the age-old tradition of saunas and steam rooms. Used for centuries all over the world, the benefits of saunas and steam rooms are tried and true and can bring many benefits to our modern-day lives in the midst of a Billings winter.
Many of us use the steam room or sauna as a quick stop after
a workout to help relieve muscle pain. While both of these heat treatments are
good for muscle relief, their benefits extend beyond this, and chances are you
may not be getting the most out of what they have to offer.
Both saunas and steam rooms are helpful in ridding the body
of toxins through sweating. They are also both great avenues for relaxation and
stress relief. The heat causes a raise in body temperature which releases
endorphins and gives the body a natural “high.”
This raise in body temperature also causes blood vessels to
dilate, therefore increasing blood circulation. An increase in blood flow
speeds the body’s response to healing of aches and pains, among other physical
benefits. Scientists have found that elevated body temperatures also make
certain types of immune cells more functional.
Alternating between a sauna or steam room and a cold shower
can give added benefits to the body, like decreased inflammation and stimulated
Saunas can improve cardiovascular performance. Medical
studies have shown that saunas can have positive impacts on numerous
conditions, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid
Regular sauna use, especially combined with cardiovascular
fitness, is known to help you live longer. Sauna use and fitness combined also
yield healthier arteries that are more adept at handling stress.
The moisture in a steam room is a kind balm to dry,
weather-worn skin. The steam helps clear skin impurities and improves
circulation to give skin a healthy glow. Moist heat may also help relieve
symptoms of colds and congestion, in addition to increasing body temperature to
give our immune systems a boost.
Moist heat has been found to be more effective than dry heat
for relieving muscle soreness that occurs as a result of a hard workout. This
can also be achieved in the sauna by adding water to hot rocks.
How to Use
Here are some quick tips for maximizing saunas and steam
- Take a quick post-workout shower before
entering. Ensure you are well-hydrated.
- Relax in the sauna or steam room for
approximately 10 minutes. Focus on breathing and meditating during this time.
If it’s your first time ever using a sauna or steam room, start with 5 minutes
and work up to a longer stay.
- Exit the room and rinse off in a cold or cool
- Repeat these steps two more times, for a total
of 3 sessions in the sauna or steam room followed by 3 cold or cool showers.
- Drink water after to re-hydrate, or throughout
your sessions as needed.
Remember that saunas and steam rooms expose the body to
extreme heat. Listen to your body, and speak with your physician before use if
you have any medical concerns.
If you’ve never been into a sauna or steam room before,
don’t be intimidated. Etiquette for most saunas and steam rooms in the United
States is simple:
Granite Health & Fitness offers a state-of-the-art sauna and steam room to help you maintain your health in these harsh winter months. Saunas and steam rooms are the perfect treatment on their own or as a complement to your workout routine. Come relax and enjoy stress-free self-care at Granite today!
- Enter quickly so as not to let hot air and steam
- Wear a bathing suit, undergarments, or just a
towel into the room. Remember that any garments you wear will get wet with
- If you’d like to add steam to the sauna, ask
others in the room if they mind. If you do pour water on the sauna rocks during
your stay, refill the water when you leave.
- Respect others in the room by maintaining a calm
and relaxed decorum.