This is a question asked many times by people all over the world. Many are surprised to learn that spending time in a steam room will not help you lose weight, but in fact, you may even gain a few pounds.
The reason for this is sweat, which contains a high amount of sodium, will cause your body to retain water. In an attempt to rid itself of the excess sodium, your body will retain even more water, making you feel bloated. There is however another reason why you may gain weight after spending time in a steam room.
"A few pounds more"
The fact is, when you step out of the steam room, you are at your coolest. Now, unlike a sauna which has an external cooling system or air vent to remove excess heat, the steam room relies on the ambient temperature in the room to cool you down.
Unfortunately, this means that after spending time in a steam bath, your body temperature will be higher than normal. So as you step out, you may experience a sudden drop in core body temperature and blood pressure, making you feel light-headed and maybe even sick.
This is why many people "feel" like they have gained weight after leaving a steam room, as the blood has been shifted from their extremities to their core. Once your body temperature returns to normal, however, you will realize that it's all just in your head and you haven't gained an ounce.
On the other hand, some people who enjoy using steam rooms say that they have lost weight by doing so. This is mainly because they are exercising more frequently.
That being said, it's always best to combine a healthy diet with regular exercise, to achieve the best results. So while you may not lose weight by spending time in a steam room, you may gain a little or at least feel like you did.
Steam room benefits for weight loss
The main benefit of steam rooms is they are great for weight loss. A recent study on obese mice compared the effects of sauna treatments to swimming in cold water. This study showed that mice who spent 30 minutes a day for five days in a sauna lost weight, but the cold water swimmers gained weight.
Keep in mind, however, you can combine a healthy diet with regular use of a steam room to lose weight. This is because a steam room will increase your blood flow, aid in detoxification, and boost metabolism.
This is assuming you are not using it as an excuse to eat unhealthy foods or drink alcohol, which will cancel out any weight loss.
At the end of the day, whether you lose or gain weight after using a steam room comes down to the reasons behind your visit. If you are just in it for the "weight loss" effect, chances are you will gain weight or at best maintain your current weight.
Always remember that you lose weight by burning more calories than you consume and the steam room will not help with this. So if you are serious about weight loss, make sure to combine it with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Risks associated with steam rooms
Some risks include burns, exposure to dangerous chemicals including cancer-causing chloroform gas, and exposure to high humidity. People who suffer from cardiac disease, hypertension, diabetes, or other conditions are advised to use steam rooms with caution.
Newer steam rooms have come on the market that is just as effective but without the chemicals. If you are thinking about getting a steam bath for your home, look into these newer types of steam rooms.
Also, never sit directly on the floor of a steam room. Even though you are in hot moist air, the floor can be incredibly hot. If possible, bring a towel with you and place it on the bench before sitting.
Safety in the steam rooms
The use of steam rooms is safe for most people, however, some precautions should be taken. First, if you suffer from any conditions such as severe heart disease, severe lung disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or if you are pregnant you should consult your doctor before using a steam bath.
Also, always follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and never use a steam room if the door is broken.
If you are feeling dizzy or light-headed after using a steam room, reduce the humidity level or leave the room and let your body acclimate to the outside air. It's also possible that you are dehydrated, so make sure to drink plenty of fluids.
Also never use steam rooms if they contain chemicals or disinfectants, as these may cause respiratory problems.
The reported links between Pneumonia and the use of steam rooms are caused by Mycoplasma or Legionella bacteria.
Precautions include: not sitting directly on the floor, as it may be very hot; always placing a towel on the bench before sitting; never over-expose yourself to steam, whether you are in a sauna or steam room.
Steam room myths
There is a great deal of debate on the topic of whether steam rooms help you lose weight. Some people believe that sitting in a steam room will cause you to sweat and lose weight.
This is not true. While the humidity and heat of a steam room can make you feel like you are burning calories, this is not the case.
A steam room can help you burn some calories; however, it would be very difficult to lose weight in a steam room alone. Steam rooms are best used to help detoxify the body, clear the sinuses and relax your muscles after exercise.
Steam rooms are great in that they allow you to relax in a hot, wet environment. One thing they are not good for is weight loss. To lose weight, it is recommended to exercise regularly and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Also, never sit on the floor of a steam room as even though you are enveloped in hot air, the floor can be incredibly hot. If possible, bring a towel with you and place it on the bench before sitting.