I have a habit of using a steam room (moist heat) after I work out at the gym. I do this weekly.

Is this helpful for recovery? Should I use the steam room immediately after my workouts, or should I wait?

  • Do you mean a steam room, like a sauna? – Dave Liepmann Feb 4 '13 at 21:13
  • @DaveLiepmann yup... – Ankit Sharma Feb 4 '13 at 21:38
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    Removed my downvote. I had thought you were asking about the body stream supplement/health site which would have been OT. – JohnP Feb 4 '13 at 22:09
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    I addressed your question as being sauna related, however a steam room and sauna have one distinct difference. A sauna is dry heat, and typically higher degrees of temperature. A sauna will be 5-30% humidity and 160-200 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas a steam room is moist heat, 90-100% humidity and a lower temperate, 110-120 degrees Fahrenheit. – JohnP Feb 4 '13 at 22:28
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    I edited your question to reflect that. I will have to research a bit more for steam specificity. The study I cited is still valid, as it was primarily concerned with heat exposure. They used 32.6 C which comes to approximately 91 degrees F, which is still cooler than both the steam and sauna rooms. – JohnP Feb 4 '13 at 22:34

As with anything that hasn't been studied, you will find mixed reviews. Many people advocate the use of a sauna after exercise, claiming that it helps flush toxins from muscles, opens up skin pores for a more refreshing cleanse afterwards, and provides cardiovascular benefits. There are some restrictions, including alcohol use and certain types of acute cardiac conditions, but overall is safe for most people including children.

Now, for after exercise, there have not been a lot of studies that prove or disprove the claims. I tend to avoid them (as I do hot tubs) after exercise, as I am already heated up, with elevated heart rate and blood pressure from exercise, so I do not want to do an activity that might further elevate both.

There are some claims that because of the blood pressure and heart rate changes that 30 minutes in a sauna is equivalent to running a 10k (6.2 miles), but I could not find evidence of that and I find it dubious at best on a personal level.

This review cited here gives an overview of some of the information and studies available.

One study as opposed to review was done to measure glycogen replenishment rates with sauna exposure, and after 4 hours, the non sauna recovery had significantly higher replenishment (Although there was no real difference noted in shorter intervals).

So, in short, the science is mixed, although exposure to heat does appear to impact glycogen replenishment rates. (Note - This was written for sauna exposure before clarification to the original question, not a steam room which is at a lower temperature. However, both are higher than the temperature used in the glycogen study, so I believe that it would still impact glycogen replenishment rates.)

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  • To interject, saunas don't raise blood pressure. In regard to the circulatory system, the high-dry heat of a sauna causes the person to vasodialte and perspire. This can cause unsafe drops in blood pressure and is one of the big reasons they don't recommend persons stay in them for very long. – BryceH Feb 5 '13 at 4:09

As a proffesional bodybuilder , I do not advise anyone to sit in steam room or souna as they deflate ur muscles after workout. Give it some time after workout.

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