You may have seen or heard of health clubs or gyms having saunas in the locker room for post-workout relaxation. But are they only used to relax, or is there something more beneficial to it?
Well, saunas can indeed be beneficial. In this blog, we'll dig into the post-workout benefits saunas offer. Read on to learn more about how saunas work and how they can improve your workout gains.
It Relaxes Your Muscles & Releases Endorphins
Spending a few minutes in a sauna after your workout relaxes the mind and muscles due to the high temperatures your body experiences during a bathing session. The high heat of a sauna increases blood circulation. A better blood flow carries higher volumes of oxygen to your body, which results in a faster replacement of worn-out cells. Also, the heat stimulates the production of endorphins, known as the feel-good hormones. The reason endorphins are known as the feel-good hormones is due to being in charge of reducing pain and discomfort.
It Relieves Muscle Pain
The dry heat of the sauna can cause the skin's temperature to reach up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit within minutes. This fever-like effect can help relieve muscle pain caused by prolonged or intense training sessions. The heat effects of the sauna will also help to remove lactic acid from your muscles. This will help you to recover faster from your workout. According to the Harvard Medical School, blood flow nearly doubles when in a sauna. As the blood flow increases, the muscles become more relaxed.
It Removes Metabolic Waste
You can expect to sweat about a pint of water after spending a few minutes in the sauna. That sweat contains a lot of metabolic waste products. Most people do not sweat regularly enough, which leads to a toxic build-up in the body. For this reason, the deep sweating that a sauna causes will help release such minerals as nickel, mercury, lead, copper, and zinc. This makes the sauna a great way to undergo a painless body detox.
Research evidence suggests that bathing in a sauna after exercise can improve your workout endurance. A 2007 study conducted at Otago University in New Zealand tracked male runners taking 30-minute baths at 190°F after their endurance training sessions for three weeks. Results showed that all athletes increased their running endurance. Researchers speculated that by improving the cardiovascular of the runners, their oxygen levels improved, which resulted in enhanced endurance.
People worldwide have used saunas to clean and purify the skin for thousands of years. The deep sweating associated with sauna use will remove dead skin cells, boosting the natural life cycle of the skin. Bacteria is flushed from the epidermis and removed with sweat. Circulation of the capillaries is also enhanced through sweating, which keeps the skin looking soft and supple.
It Improves Your Cardiovascular Fitness
Your heart rate will increase up to 120-140 beats per minute during an average sauna session. Then, when you leave the sauna, the heart rate is likely to drop below your resting level. These changes increase your cardiac output, and your heart muscles become stronger.
To make your sauna experience even more beneficial, you can divide sauna "sets." Spend 10 minutes in the sauna, and then take a 2 to 3-minute break to cool down. Repeat this process three or four times. The quick temperature change will elevate your heart rate by up to 60%. This will cause a similar effect to doing moderate cardio exercise.
The high heat levels of a sauna cause an increased metabolic rate which can burn calories. Also, the very act of sweating is a calorie-burning activity that requires energy derived from stored carbohydrates and fat.
According to Ward Dean, M.D., a medical researcher in the US Army, "a moderately conditioned person can easily sweat off 500 grams in a sauna in a single session."
People who are overweight are likely to burn even more calories. So, even though the sauna is not a miraculous fat-burning machine, it can be a valuable tool in your fat-burning arsenal.
It Helps You to Sleep Better
When you exercise, especially if you are engaged in weight training, you are causing major stress to your muscles. Each workout causes micro-tears to the worked muscle fiber. It is only through proper post-workout nutrition and rest that the fibers can grow back bigger and stronger than they were in the first place. That is why sleep is so important. If you don't get quality sleep, you will not fully recover from your training and, as a result, will not fully benefit from it.