Because of the sauna’s numerous health benefits, it can be especially helpful to spend time in the sauna after workout. The heat and increased circulation can help flush out toxins and lactic acid built up from exercise. This increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients your muscles are receiving to aid recovery from your workout. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of sauna after a workout.
What is a Sauna?
A sauna is a room heated to temperatures of between 158° to 212° Fahrenheit, or 70° to 100° Celsius with very low humidity.
The heat is usually produced from a stove or hot rocks. Some can be electrical with heaters attached to the floor, and others infrared, where light waves heat your body directly without heating the room.
Sauna is different from steam rooms, which usually contain moist heat with lower temperatures between 110-120° Fahrenheit, or 43-49° Celsius.
Benefits of Sauna after Workout
1. Reduce muscle fatigue and inflammation
Saunas have been used for centuries as a way to relieve muscle fatigue and inflammation. When you spend time in a hot, moist environment, your body releases endorphins – natural painkillers – which can help reduce muscle aches and soreness. Additionally, the heat can help dilate blood vessels, leading to increased circulation and the removal of toxins and waste from the body.
So whether you’re rehabbing an injury or just looking for a way to relax after a workout, a sauna may be just what you need.
2. Eliminates lactic acid buildup
Lactic acid is produced when your muscles work hard and don’t have enough oxygen. This can lead to pain and stiffness, but spending time in the sauna can help eliminate lactic acid buildup. The heat helps increase blood flow and loosen muscles, which allows for better oxygenation and prevents lactic acid from accumulating.
3. Relieves pain
Increased blood flow associated with sauna can help relieve pain. The heat also helps to loosen up muscles and joints, making it a great way to reduce stiffness and soreness. In addition, the steam can help to open up your airways and clear out any congestion.
4. Increases endurance
Sauna use has long been associated with health benefits, including increased exercise performance. A study published in 2016 found that subjects who took sauna baths for 60 minutes three times per week for eight weeks increased their treadmill running time by 4 percent compared to a control group who did not take sauna baths.
The researchers theorized that thermal stress caused by the sauna bath stimulated the body’s release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood enhancers, as well as energy boosters. The increased exercise output may have been due to improved circulation and greater energy production.
Additionally, when you spend time in the sauna post-workout, your body temperature rises and your heart rate increases. This makes your body work harder, which in turn increases your endurance. Additionally, spending time in the sauna can help reduce lactic acid buildup, which can lead to improved endurance.
5. Speeds up muscle recovery
After a workout, your blood vessels are wider open than during rest, which means more blood can flow through them. This increased blood flow helps deliver nutrients and oxygen to the tissues damaged by the exercise, speeding up their repair process.
6. Supports weight loss
A sauna can help you lose weight in a few different ways:
The heat helps boost your metabolism, which can burn more calories. Sweating in the sauna can help remove toxins and excess water weight from your body. Spending time in the sauna can also reduce stress, which can also lead to weight loss.
When stressed you tend to overeat or eat unhealthy foods that don’t provide any nutrients. When you’re not stressed, making healthier food choices is easier. In addition, when someone is feeling relaxed and has positive thoughts, their body produces more serotonin than when someone is feeling negative emotions like anger or sadness. Serotonin is responsible for feelings of happiness and well-being, as well as healthy digestion and other functions in the human body.
7. Promotes better sleep
Most people know that a good night’s sleep is important for optimal health, but did you know that saunas can actually help promote better sleep? Spending time in the sauna after a workout can help you wind down and prepare for a restful night’s sleep.
Plus, the heat from the sauna can help loosen up muscles and ease any tension or pain that may be keeping you awake. If you’re looking to improve your sleep quality, I recommend setting aside 20 minutes to spend in the sauna after your gym sessions. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on tomorrow!
Additional Benefits of Sauna
Besides its benefits during workouts, what else can sauna do to your health?
Regardless of the heating method, saunas offer the same effects on the body.
The high heat causes your skin’s temperature to rise, resulting in sweating. Sweating is one way in which the body filters out toxins. It also cools and regulates body temperature.
Your heart rate also goes up, and your blood vessels dilate, increasing circulation. All of these occurrences have been associated with health benefits, including
1. Detoxifying the body
Sweating is one of the ways your body gets rid of waste.
Though there is controversy over detoxification through sweat, heavy metals have been found in urine and sweat, concluding that sweating may help you detoxify from heavy metals.
According to researchers, sweat may also help you get rid of harmful chemicals like BPA. BPA is an industrious chemical present in different products, including plastics such as food containers, bottles, and canned foods. It’s an endocrine disruptor and has been shown to affect the brain, prostate, child development, cause infertility in both men and women, and increase the risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Sweating also helps eliminate excess toxins from your fat cells and eliminate excess salts that might otherwise cause kidney stones.
2. Improving cardiovascular health
Sauna baths may not just feel great but also lower your risk for cardiovascular conditions.
A study conducted in Finland showed that regular sauna baths reduced the risk of dying from cardiovascular-related conditions.
Those that used the sauna 2-3 times a week had a 22% reduced risk of sudden cardiac deaths compared to those that did it once a week.
Those that used the sauna 4-7 times a week had a 50% reduced risk of developing a cardiovascular condition and a 63% reduced risk of sudden cardiac death compared to those who used the sauna once a week.
Sauna is generally associated with improved dilatation of blood vessels and reduced arterial stiffness leading to a drop in blood pressure with improved circulation and cardiovascular function, thus good outcomes for those who use it more frequently.
3. Cleanses the skin
The heat and sweating associated with the sauna rinse out bacteria from your epidermis and sweat ducts.
It also stimulates your sebaceous gland, which works to lubricate the skin and keep it moistened.
Additionally, the sauna improves capillary circulation and helps your skin breathe by unclogging the pores. This helps disinfect the skin since you are often clogged due to oils, pollution, dead skin, and dirt. Getting these out of the way will result in fewer breakouts and promote clear and radiant skin.
4. Reduced stress levels
The heat from the sauna improves circulation, relaxes muscles, and stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.
5. Improves chronic pain
Endorphins released during sauna bathing also act as pain relievers. They may help reduce chronic pain, relieve muscle spasms, and improve arthritis and joint stiffness.
In one study, dry sauna significantly reduced pain in patients with lower back pain to the extent that researchers suggested dry sauna therapy as an alternative or complementary option for patients with lower back pain.
7. Lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s
Researchers from Finland conducted a 20-year study on the effects of sauna on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in healthy men aged 42-60 years of age.
They found that those who used the sauna 2-3 times a week had a 20 and 22 percent reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, respectively than those who had a sauna bath once a week.
Participants who used the sauna 4-7 times a week had a much lower risk with a 65 and 66 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, respectively than those who had a sauna bath once a week.
8. Reduces headache intensity
Sauna therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for headaches. In one study, participants who used a sauna four times a week for four weeks had significantly reduced headache intensity and duration compared to those who didn’t use a sauna. The sauna may help by relaxing muscles and improving blood circulation. The heat can also help relieve pain by increasing the release of endorphins, natural painkillers produced by the body.
9. Improved lung function
Sauna can help improve your lung function by cleansing your body of toxins and bacteria. The heat also helps to loosen and thin mucus, making it easier to expel. In addition, sauna can help to improve your breathing by expanding your airways and increasing respiration.
Should You Visit the Sauna Before or After a Workout?
Before a workout
Some people believe that visiting the sauna before a workout will help increase your calorie burn. This is because heat increases your metabolism. Additionally, pre-workout saunas can help loosen up your muscles and reduce inflammation. This is important because it can lead to better performance during your workout.
After a workout
Others say you should visit the sauna after a workout. This is because sweat contains toxins and inflammation fighters. By soaking in a sauna after a strenuous workout, you’ll increase your level of sweating, which can help cleanse your body and reduce inflammation. This can make you feel better both mentally and physically.
This clearly shows there is no right answer when it comes to visiting the sauna before or after a workout. The key is to listen to your body and see what works best for you. Some people feel better if they sauna first, while others find that a workout afterward is more effective. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what feels best.
Disadvantages of Sauna
Fluid loss associated with sweating may induce dehydration. One may experience symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and feeling very thirsty.
To prevent dehydration, ensure proper hydration before and after a sauna bath. Also, avoid prolonged stays in the sauna. You can break your session into two sessions of 10 minutes each with a five-ten minutes break, and keep hydrating during the brakes.
To help cool off, get in the pull or stand in a cold shower before going for another session.
Loss of fertility in men
According to research, two 15-minute sauna sessions per week for three months had a negative effect on sperm count; however, they found the effect to be reversible.
More research needs to be done on the same.
Is Sauna for Everyone?
You may want to avoid the sauna in case of one or more of these conditions
- Heart disease
- Alcohol intoxication
- If on any mind-altering drugs
- High or low blood pressure
Post-workout sauna time is an important aspect of many fitness routines. When you sweat during your workout, toxins are released from your body and travel through your sweat pores into the sauna’s heat, where they are cleansed from your system. Sauna also makes it easy to recover and boost your exercise endurance, which helps support overall health and wellbeing.
Sauna can also improve cardiovascular health, promote skin health, improve sleep, relieve pain, reduce stress levels, and lower your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
While sauna offers numerous health-promoting benefits, ensure you are well hydrated as sauna heat may cause dehydration.
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