Steam Room Disadvantages

Woman in a sauna
Your time may be better spent in the gym than the steam room. (Image: amanaimagesRF/amana images/Getty Images)

The steam room has been a popular fixture in fitness centers and health clubs for decades. Steam rooms are credited with all sorts of benefits, including weight loss and detoxification. These benefits may be exaggerated — and in fact, the steam room may present risks to your health and safety.

Germs

The hot, humid environment of the steam room is an ideal environment for many germs and fungi. Highly trafficked or poorly cleaned steam rooms are particularly likely to be unsafe. If you do choose to use the steam room, make sure it has been recently cleaned. Follow the advice given by "Newsweek," and never enter a sauna with bare feet. Wear rubber shower shoes, or flip flops, to prevent athlete’s foot.

Infertility

For men trying to have children, time in the sauna may actually lower sperm count. Prolonged exposure to temperatures over 104 degrees Fahrenheit can hinder sperm production, the Mayo Clinic notes — and steam-room temperatures are typically well over 104 degrees. If you exercise before you steam, your body temperature will have already been high for some time — potentially exacerbating this effect.

Temporary Weight Loss

Many see the steam room as a method for weight loss. In truth, most of the weight lost in a steam room is just water weight, from sweating. This weight loss is temporary, and you will put it back on as soon as you have something to drink. Spending too much time in the steam room can actually lead to dehydration, a potentially life-threatening condition.

Increased Core Temperature

Prolonged exposure to steam can raise your body’s core temperature to dangerously high levels. Although the steam room will induce sweating, your body may not sweat as much as it needs to, due to the humidity of the environment. A dry sauna allows you to sweat freely, and cool yourself more efficiently.

Poor Calorie Burning

Some see the steam room as a way to burn calories without exercise. But while you may feel like you are expending energy due to the heat, you are really burning very few calories. Calories are burned by working muscles — not by heat. Sitting in a steam room will burn few calories no matter what the temperature.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.