Dating back to ancient Greece, the steam room is a common amenity in pools and fitness centers. Normally consisting of a simple tile room with a steam generator, the steam room is popular for its relaxing effects. Follow some simple steps to make the most of your next steam room visit.
Shower first. A shower will keep the steam room pleasant for both you and other visitors by removing any dirt, body odor or perfume. If you use a swimming pool before you take a steam, a shower will also remove chlorine.
Stay protected. The moist, wet tile in the steam room can be a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. According to AthleticBusiness.com, bacteria such as athlete's foot and MRSA are serious concerns in shared facilities. Keep yourself safe by sitting on a towel and wearing shower shoes while in the steam room.
Watch the temperature. A steam room should maintain a temperature between 110 and 116 degrees Fahrenheit. If the mist remains constant, the humidity in a steam room should stay above 100 percent.
Set time limits. Spa expert Reinhard R. Bergel, Ph.D., recommends steam sessions of no more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time. For multiple sessions, take a break between steams using cool air or water to lower your body temperature. Alternating between hot and cold helps stimulate circulation.
If you are new to the steam room, it may take you a while to get used to the high temperatures. Start out by limiting your exposure to only five minutes at a time,
The high temperatures of the steam room can have potentially dangerous effects. Do not use a steam room if your body temperature is already elevated due to exercise or climate. Avoid dehydration by drinking water before, during and after your steam bath. Consult a physician before using a steam room.
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.