The Spa Spy blog

Getting steamy…

Give me the power to create a fever, and I shall cure any disease.” - Hippocrates.

Good Spa Guide Towers is based down by the sea. We were treated to a rather amazing natural display last night of sea mist. Within about ten minutes, a whoosh of fog rose up from the sea and swallowed up our lovely view! After work, I walked down by the sea through the mist, on my way home from the gym. I was toasty-warm and feeling happy after a relaxing session in the steam room.

I got to thinking about the similarities between the mist and the steam, and whether there are any benefits from that misty stuff. A spot of research this morning showed that, yes, there are any amount of good reasons to spend time in a steam room or sauna, so here's a handful to tempt you somewhere steamy...

Good on the outside...

Mist rolling in from the sea in Brighton

We all know that steam rooms are meant to be good for the skin -- but how? Steaming, or sauna-ing, helps in two ways. Firstly, the increase in temperature leads to your body sweating to try to keep your body cool and maintain its basal temperature of 98.6F. Once your body realises that sweating alone won't help, your body temperature rises.

Your blood rises to the surface of your skin and that brings more oxygen and nutrients to your skin surface, which encourages collagen production (softer, younger-looking skin, anyone?). Sweating also clears out the pores by eliminating toxins and impurities from your skin. Dead skin is easily sloughed off after a steam, so a brisk scrub with a loofah or flannel post-steam will leave you with super-soft skin.

Good on the inside…

When your body temperature rises thanks to being in a steam room (or sauna), this fools your body into thinking it has a fever. Your body therefore increases the production of white blood cells which help boost your immune system. Steam rooms are good for your mental health, too, as they have been found to reduce your levels of adrenaline and to increase endorphins -- Nature's happy-hormone.

This is reflected in a study which showed that taking regular thermal treatments helped those who are suffering from mild depression. If you use the steam room, after you've been in the gym, it will help relax tense muscles and so reduce the risk of injury or aches and pains from stiff, tight muscles.

Steaming also helps reduce chronic joint and muscle pain. Spending time in a steam room causes your blood vessels to expand, which increases circulation, which means that more oxygen and nutrients can reach your body. This has the amazing effect of not just lowering or stopping pain but also enhances your healing rate.

References:

Mikkel Aaland Sweat, 1978, Capra press

Psychosomatic Medicine