Are There Any Fitness Benefits in Using That Steam Room at Your Gym?

Yep! Don't ignore it.

Close up image of steamy sauna room
Photo: equinox/Instagram

Chances are if you've been in a gym locker room you've noticed the ever-present steam room in the far back corner near the showers. And unless you're a regular spa-goer or have enough time to chill out in the locker room after a 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 into 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 Director of Programming and Innovation Matt Delaney, treating yourself to a few minutes of high temps in the steam room could help improve circulation 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.

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 necessary precautions to make sure it's as safe as possible.

"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.

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