Steam rooms have been popular for many years and devotees claim that relaxing in a steam room can provide multiple health benefits. A steam room is an enclosed room heated to around 46.1 degrees C and constantly filled with steam. It differs from saunas in that it contains moist heat rather than dry heat. According to Dr. Tom Allison of the Mayo Clinic, the No. 1 health benefit of steam rooms is stress reduction. Steam rooms are easy to use, but there are a few precautions to keep in mind.
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Talk to your doctor before you start using a steam room. This is particularly important if you suffer from heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or any other medical condition. Your doctor can advise you whether steam rooms are safe for someone with your condition.
Wait about an hour to use a steam room if you have just eaten. Sitting in a steam room with a full stomach can cause discomfort and lead to an upset stomach.
Take a shower before entering the steam room. Most public steam rooms require users to shower before using the steam room, especially if you have just exercised. It is also better for your skin to remove dirt and grime before you sweat.
Remove your contacts if you wear them. Most contact lens manufacturers recommend that users do not wear contacts in a steam room because they can become irritated and increase your risk of eye infection.
Remove any jewellery, including rings and earrings. Metal jewellery can become hot in the steam room and burn your skin.
Decide what you want to wear. Most users will go nude or wrapped in a towel, but if you are more modest it is perfectly acceptable to wear a swimming costume. In co-ed steam rooms, most users are required to wear a swimming costume.
Drink a tall glass of water just before you enter the steam room. It is important to stay hydrated when using steam rooms or saunas, since high temperatures and sweating can lead to dehydration.
Enter the steam room and adjust the heat to your comfort. Most steam rooms will have a panel right next to the door that controls the heat and steam in the room. You can release more steam or turn down the temperature with a touch of a button. If you are in a public steam room, always ask the other occupants before you adjust the heat.
Set the timer or keep an eye on the clock. Some small or individual steam rooms will have a timer on the wall inside the steam room, while other large or public rooms will usually just have a clock. Expect to stay in the steam room for approximately 10 to 15 minutes and never exceed 20 minutes.
Always sit on a towel in a steam room, especially if you are naked. Public steam rooms can breed a host of germs so try to avoid contact with your bare skin and the steam room bench or floor.
Relax and enjoy your experience. When your time is up, exit the steam room and shut the door firmly behind you. Let yourself gradually cool down and be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Tips and warnings
- Children and pregnant women should never use a steam room.
- Exit a steam room immediately if you feel dizzy or faint. Always listen to your body and do not exceed 20 minutes in a steam room.
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