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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.

Benefits

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 circulation. Saunas 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 arthritis. 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. Steam Room 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 rooms:
  1. Take a quick post-workout shower before entering. Ensure you are well-hydrated.
  2. 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.
  3. Exit the room and rinse off in a cold or cool shower.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Etiquette

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:
  • Enter quickly so as not to let hot air and steam escape.
  • Wear a bathing suit, undergarments, or just a towel into the room. Remember that any garments you wear will get wet with sweat!
  • 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.
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!