Chances are, you've been in a gym locker room and noticed in the far back corner near the showers, there sits a steam room. And unless you're a regular spa-goer or have enough time to chill out in the locker room after spin, there's also a chance you've never given it a second glance. But considering so many gyms, wellness facilities, and spas have them as amenities, there has to be a reason they are taking up space in a place that could always use more treadmills around the 6 PM rush, right?
Is there a benefit in stepping in the steam room after an already steamy session of hot yoga, other than just relaxing and giving you a chance to unwind and maybe just be still in your thoughts?
According to Equinox Tier X Coach Matt Delaney, treating yourself to a few minutes of high temps in the steam room could help improve circulation and and lower your blood pressure by causing your blood vessels to expand. "In addition, the heat can help to relax muscles and the increase in the circulation may boost the body's inflammatory response post-workout, helping you recover faster."
If you've experienced the kind of pain 45-minutes of squats and cardio can cause, this might sound pretty good to you about now. You might already be stuffing your flip-flops in your gym bag. So yes, there's a reason your gym saved space in the locker room for it.
But remember, the steam room isn't a place to bring your book and chill out for long periods of time. If you're new to the treatment, Delaney suggests starting with no more than 10 minutes and then increasing from there. Still, you'll want to take some necessarily precautions to make sure it's as safe as possible. High temps and humidity can be scary.
"One thing to keep in mind post workout would be the intensity of your session," says Delaney. "High intensity bouts of exercise tend to increase perspiration, which could put you at a greater risk of dehydration, so be sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after," he says.