A steam room is an enclosed room which is made warm and humid by use of a heater and steam. Many saunas can be used as steam rooms, although caution must be taken with the temperature to ensure that bathers are not scalded. Most steam rooms are kept at a warm ambient temperature, and the steam is increased with the use of water thrown onto a heating element. Many spas and gyms have steam rooms for the use of their clients, who sometimes find them refreshing after a workout.
A steam room has a physiological effect on the body which is very similar to that of a sauna. The steam opens up the pores, increases the metabolism, elevates the heart rate, and the body begins to sweat. This can result in health benefits, especially when a steam room is used safely and frequently. Some spas have also introduced the use of aromatherapy in their steam rooms, to provide additional health benefits and relax clients.
The warm, moist air increases the body's circulation and also loosens and relaxes muscles and joints. After a workout, a session in the steam room will help to keep the body relaxed and flexible, so that it will not lock up as a result of hard exercise. The steam room will also help the body eliminate toxins, forcing them out through the resulting sweat. The skin will be cleaner, softer, and healthier, especially if an exfoliating scrub is used in the steam room to remove the outer layer of dead skin.
Steam rooms are also very helpful for people who suffer from asthma and respiratory conditions. The dry heat of a sauna is sometimes too intense for the lungs to handle, and the gentler moist heat of a steam room helps to relax and open up the lungs and bronchial tubes. In addition, a steam room can help to reduce joint pain and the symptoms of arthritis. After a session in a steam room, the bather usually feels more relaxed, which can help to reduce problems related to insomnia and poor sleeping.
To steam safely, the bather should take a warm shower before entering the steam room. Stay seated in the steam room for up to 15 minutes before exiting to cool off with room temperature air and cool water in the form of a shower or plunge. Allow the body to return to a normal temperature before embarking on another round, and do not steam more than three times in one session. Lots of water should be consumed throughout the process and the bather should exit if he or she feels dizzy, nauseous, or uncomfortable at any point. As a steam room is not healthy for some medical conditions, a doctor should be consulted before using one.