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If you think a nice nap in a steam room is just what you need to relax after an intense workout, think again.
Shape spoke with Dr. Daniel Vigil, an associate professor of health sciences at UCLA and team physician for the UCLA Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, about the link between dehydration and steam rooms, and he completely discredited the latter as a post-workout go-to.
Of course, he says there are positives about steam rooms: the heat gets your blood flowing and dilates your blood vessels, which in turn enhances circulation to the muscles. But, without proper blood flow and adequate blood pressure when your vessels are dilated, you can faint. AKA, if you’re dehydrated, which you likely are after sweating up a storm on the treadmill, then you need to skip the steam room. Scarily enough, a 77-year-old woman died in March in a steam room after suffering acute renal failure due to dehydration. Younger people are not exempt from this kind of tragedy. Vigil says it’s better to hit up the moist space before a workout to loosen up stiff muscles.
“After a workout, the body tends to be dehydrated from all the sweating,” says Vigil. “To expose your body to more heat leads to more sweating, more dehydration, more complications to your blood pressure. If you’re already dehydrated before the steam room, you’re putting a strain on your internal organs.”
Yikes. Make sure to drink water, guys. And here are some surefire signs to make sure you’re okay or not okay to enter a steam room: if you’re pumped and feeling strong, then you’re good to go. But if you feel weak and tired, then those are red flags.
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