The steam shower is an amenity found in many fitness centers, athletic clubs and homes. Simple in design, the basic steam shower consists of an enclosed tile room with a steam generator. Steam showers, or steam baths, are a centuries-old tradition dating back to ancient Rome. Steam showers remain in wide use due to the numerous health benefits they offer.
Exposure to steam causes vasodilatation, a widening of blood vessels. With more room in the blood vessels, blood flow increases, improving circulation. According to the Pub Med website, vasodilatation has a positive effect on blood pressure and is often initiated with drugs. Through the use of a steam shower, though, you can enjoy a safe, natural vasodilatating effect.
Recovery from Exercise
During exercise, metabolic waste is built up in muscles, which causes soreness and fatigue. Combining a steam shower with a cold bath or shower can help flush out this waste. Alternating between the heat of the steam and the cold bath causes a pumping action in the capillaries and rids muscles of the waste. Alternate between one minute of steam and one minute of cold water to initiate the pumping action.
Steam is often used for skin care because it opens pores and allows you to perspire freely. According to Green Planet, steam is an effective home remedy for cleansing your skin. Twenty minutes of steam, once a week, is enough to reduce blemishes such as pimples and blackheads. Steam also works as a preparation for shaving by softening hair and reducing razor burn.
One of the main reasons people enjoy steam showers is that it relaxes them. The heat allows your muscles to relax, reducing tension. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, steam showers have a fatiguing effect, which can improve sleep when used before bed.
- Pub Med: Positive Inotropic and Vasodilator Effects
- "Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning - 3rd Edition"; National Strength and Conditioning Association; 2008
Based in the Greater New York area, David Benjamin is a veteran of the fitness industry of over 15 years. He is coauthor of "The Business and Practice of Personal Training" and has lectured to countless fitness professionals. Benjamin holds a degree in physical education from the State University of New York, Cortland.