Are there any health benefits to steamroom/sauna? If so, what are they?

  • bijockmuscle

    Posts: 656

    Dec 04, 2008 2:35 PM GMT
    I steam and sauna b/c i find it relaxing after working out but I assume there must be health benefits involved or else it wouldn't be in most gyms...I think there must be some detox benefits, but must be other things too?
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    Dec 04, 2008 3:15 PM GMT
    My apologies, I'll be repeating what I've said in other threads here, but I'm a life-long user & fan of sauna & steam rooms, have books on the subject.

    Many books do talk about health benefits that are a bit beyond my understanding, like the detox you mention. Maybe they're true, but I'll just mention the few that I personally have found to benefit me.

    My muscles tend not to become sore or stiff after exercise when I use the sauna. Sometimes I stretch in there, as the heat relaxes the muscles, but some public saunas prohibit that, or guys will complain, thinking you're being a naked exhibitionist.

    I've also had arthritis for many years, and I get some pain relief from heat, and gain improved range of motion. I'm also prone to getting a deep & persistent chill if exposed to outdoor cold too long, which a long heat-soak in the sauna is best at curing.

    My chronic sinus infections and head colds lessen when I use the sauna regularly, and I've since read research that suggests that really does happen. Breathing the hot air kills the rhinovirus (nose virus) responsible for some of these symptoms.

    Heart & respiration rates become elevated in the heat, which some medical experts think may have benefits similar to that caused by exercise. The sweat glands work overtime, of course, and aside from detox effects which I'm not sure about, I personally feel it helps me to perspire more efficiently at other times when my body needs to cool down, like during strenuous exercise.

    (I must say, though, that when sweating in the sauna I can detect the odor of items like onions I may have eaten recently, so perhaps certain things do purge themselves through the skin. Whether or not this is beneficial to health I don't know. In the US steam rooms were also once thought to help remove alcohol from the system more quickly, hence a popular place for dealing with hangovers)

    Something I don't expect from the sauna or steam room is permanent weight loss. Some temporary water loss will occur, but this is normally regained quickly, as the body restores it's balance.

    Europeans are more likely to see the social aspects of the sauna, but like most Americans I tend to be a solitary user. I keep my chat to a minimum, preferring silence.

    Those are the main reasons I enjoy sauna. Plus, of course, sitting around with other naked men. I don't know whether straight men also derive any homoerotic enjoyment from it like I do. In Europe naked saunas are frequently co-ed, so their straight men have that attraction instead.
  • reliable1

    Posts: 65

    Dec 04, 2008 4:54 PM GMT
    Good comments. I'd also point out that simply the "relaxation" is a kind of health benefit in itself.
  • bijockmuscle

    Posts: 656

    Dec 04, 2008 7:40 PM GMT
    Doesn't anyone know proven medical research, not just personal experience??????
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    Dec 04, 2008 7:44 PM GMT
    The steam room opens my sinuses. What a marvelous thing.icon_biggrin.gif
  • luvs2travel

    Posts: 94

    Dec 04, 2008 8:06 PM GMT
    I use the steamroom as often as possible. Great for the sinuses and bronchial passages - especially in winter.

    However, it can be very distracting sometimes when there are guys cruising. You know the guys - come to the gym and walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes then spend an hour in the steam/sauna.

    I might not have a problem if some were actually really sexy, but that is usually not the case.
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    Dec 04, 2008 8:39 PM GMT
    I swear that a good hot sauna or eucalyptus steam room when you feel like you are getting a cold clears it up completely. I rarely catch a cold these days and if I do it's a crazy one.
  • AdventureTime

    Posts: 52

    May 05, 2013 11:37 PM GMT
    I was just googling around about this and thought I would check the RJ forums,

    Acording to a Japanese Study on hamsters! Saunas increase NO synthase expression after 4 weeks of sauna therapy.




    Repeated Sauna Therapy Increases Arterial Endothelial
    Nitric Oxide Synthase Expression and Nitric Oxide
    Production in Cardiomyopathic Hamsters

    The URL button is not working right for me so please copy and paste:

    http://www.comprahogar.com/images/329/Ad-Contenidos/Referencia%2019.pdf
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    May 05, 2013 11:45 PM GMT
    luvs2travel saidHowever, it can be very distracting sometimes when there are guys cruising. You know the guys - come to the gym and walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes then spend an hour in the steam/sauna.

    I might not have a problem if some were actually really sexy, but that is usually not the case.


    INB4 Incindiary:

    "YCYL"

    lol
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    May 05, 2013 11:57 PM GMT
    luvs2travel saidI use the steamroom as often as possible. Great for the sinuses and bronchial passages - especially in winter.

    However, it can be very distracting sometimes when there are guys cruising. You know the guys - come to the gym and walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes then spend an hour in the steam/sauna.

    I might not have a problem if some were actually really sexy, but that is usually not the case.

    LOL.. True.. Ok.. In guilty of spending a "hour" in the saunia, but i also spend over an hour in the gym before that.. Because I want my "10.00" moneys worth, since the gym I use that has the sauna is a 26 mile (50) round trip ride for me. But at least Im not one of those "slobs" (pastie, white, balding, middle aged, pot belly, hairy guy) you always see hang out in the lockerroom you always see in there gaulking. Im in descent shape. LOL.
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    May 06, 2013 1:42 AM GMT
    I honestly think that there is a generation gap with attitudes concerning steam rooms and saunas.

    At least as far as North Americans go: I usually don't have time to use them, but when I do have opportunity, I'm only there for 15min or so.

    The long-timers one generally finds there are:

    1. Northern Europeans, Russians, Koreans, or Japanese of any age and nude, that are there strictly for therapeutic reasons within the scope of a sauna culture unique to them

    2. North Americans of any age who will generally be in at least shorts if not full gym gear, there to sweat out toxins for a few minutes before hitting the showers

    3. Gay North Americans who will generally be out of shape and over 50 who play shady towel games to cruise you, if not actually engaged in some publicly inappropriate behaviour.

    This kind of overlaps conveniently with the locker room towel dancers who are fit guys under 30 who will shuffle from shower mode to full street dress in 2.5sec without letting their towel ever dip more than 0.0625in from below their navel or above their knees.

    Meanwhile, you will see bovine men with all of the regal composure of Kaiser Wilhelm I blowdrying their ballsacks in the mirror without a damned care in the world.
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    May 06, 2013 1:45 AM GMT
    I'd be more interested in knowing whether there are health risks involved in using steam rooms, particularly in the winter when users with communicable colds and flu use the to clear their sinuses.

    I have tried the sauna a few times but my workouts are so long (they also include flexibility training) that I found I couldn't bear adding another minute to my gym time.
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    May 06, 2013 1:58 AM GMT
    eagermuscle saidI'd be more interested in knowing whether there are health risks involved in using steam rooms, particularly in the winter when users with communicable colds and flu use the to clear their sinuses.

    I have tried the sauna a few times but my workouts are so long (they also include flexibility training) that I found I couldn't bear adding another minute to my gym time.


    I'd tend to think there might be, depending on how well the sauna is kept.

    While the heat can kill most bacteria, the steam rooms seem as if they'd be breeding grounds for all kinds of shit like Norwalk Virus and such, if they aren't regularly scrubbed down.
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    May 06, 2013 4:22 AM GMT
    Sweating out "toxins" is a load of hooey. Toxins are "released" from your body when you take a piss or a shit.
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    May 06, 2013 4:28 AM GMT
    Info taken from: http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/does-sweating-release-toxins

    It talks about yoga, I know. And the question was about Saunas, I know. But it goes into depth with sweating, so read!

    Though some like it hot, inducing heavy sweating is not an effective method of ridding your body of toxins — though it's very good at ridding your body of vital fluids, potentially leading to dehydration. Sweating releases traces of toxins (less than 1% of the body's total content), but in reality, its sole purpose is to prevent overheating. The liver and kidneys (not the sweat glands) are the body's true detoxifiers. They filter toxins out of the blood and the body releases them through urine and feces. When someone is dehydrated, these filtration mechanisms go haywire because of a reduction in the plasma level in the blood causing side effects like you experienced post-workout.

    During exercise, the body naturally "thermoregulates" (cools itself down) in a variety of ways: radiation, conduction, convection, and evaporation (sweating). If the environmental temperature exceeds skin temperature like in hot yoga where the room is often heated to 90-105ºF, these first three mechanisms can't function. Furthermore, in a hot room, your body will also absorb heat from the environment causing its core temperature to rise even higher. As a result, sweating becomes the only way your body is able to regulate its rising core temperature and it has to go on overdrive. Adding to this, if the space you're in is low on square footage and ventilation, having a group of people close together and sweating will also increase the humidity. High humidity amplifies the body's need to thermoregulate through sweat, and if everyone is sweating more this increases the humidity…and you see how this cycle continues.

    The more you sweat, the more fluid you lose, and the more difficult thermoregulation becomes. A loss of just 2% body mass in fluid may increase heart rate and decrease blood volume which not only makes you feel under the weather but may actually reduce your workout endurance. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include a rapid, weak pulse combined with a sense of physical weakness, dizziness, and headache. Experiencing these symptoms like you did during your yoga class is not a sign that you need to detox. Rather, it's your body's way of telling you to move to a cooler environment and rehydrate (electrolytes may help with this). If you experience vomiting, muscle cramps, or feel progressively weaker, this is a sign of severe heat exhaustion and requires immediate medical attention. When the body's core temperature exceeds 103ºF (often the result of malfunctioning thermoregulation and not a steamy workout), life threatening heat stroke may set in and organ systems may begin to shut down.