Sauna facilities have become a common feature in high-end gyms and health clubs. While most people understand the significance of recovery after exercise, many are unaware of the advantages saunas offer in aiding post-workout recovery.
6 health benefits of sauna after workout sessions
Here is the list of post-workout sauna health benefits:
1. Muscle recovery
Muscle soreness is a common experience after an intense workout. While there are numerous remedies to alleviate delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), saunas are a great option worth considering.
According to studies National Library of Medicine: Effects of far-infrared sauna bathing on recovery from strength and endurance training sessions in men on infrared sauna bathing on recovery from strength and endurance training sessions, the use of saunas can reduce muscle soreness.
Saunas promote blood circulation, bringing more oxygen-rich blood to the muscles. This increase in blood flow can help speed up the recovery process, reducing muscle soreness and helping you get back to your fitness routine faster.
2. Improves cardiovascular health
After a workout, it is common to experience an elevated heart rate due to the intensity of the exercise.
According to research PubMed: The blood pressure and heart rate during sauna bath correspond to cardiac responses during submaximal dynamic exercise on high blood pressure and heart rate during sauna baths, saunas have similar effects on the cardiovascular system as moderate exercise.
However, when you leave the sauna room, it goes back to normal. This suggests that using a sauna after a workout can aid in reducing the heart rate.
Additionally, another study National Library of Medicine: Sauna bathing is associated with reduced cardiovascular mortality and improves risk prediction in men and women: a prospective cohort study found that sauna sessions improve heart health risk prediction in both men and women. However, people with chronic heart disease should consult their doctor before using a sauna.
3. Relieves stress
Sauna usage after exercising is an effective method for alleviating stress. One of the most immediate benefits of the sauna experience is a sense of relief, leading to a state of tranquility and promoting overall well-being.
This natural method of stress management not only helps reduce anxiety levels, promotes relaxation, and contributes to a positive outlook on life.
4. Body detoxification
Saunas National Library of Medicine: Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review have been found to aid in the body’s natural detoxification process by increasing perspiration, which expels waste and toxins from the body.
Using saunas regularly can improve overall health and wellness. However, it is essential to note that saunas should not be the sole means of detoxification but should be used in conjunction with a healthy diet and lifestyle for optimal results.
5. Increases endurance
Heat exposure, like a sauna bathing after exercise, may positively impact endurance.
A study Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport: Effect of post-exercise sauna bathing on the endurance performance of competitive male runners conducted on competitive male runners revealed that sauna bathing after training sessions increased the athletes’ run time to exhaustion by a significant 32%. Additionally, this research suggests that sauna therapy may improve athletic performance.
6. Weight loss
However, regular saunas boost cardiovascular health and body detoxification which can indirectly assist with weight loss in the long run.
Risks of sauna session post-workout
Saunas offer benefits for post-workout recovery, but it is crucial to consider their potential risks, particularly the risk of dehydration due to sweating.
Here are some of the risks associated with using sauna post-workout:
- Temporary lower sperm count
- High or low blood pressure
Tips for safely using the sauna after a workout
Here are some tips for ensuring safety during sauna room sessions:
- Drink plenty of water and electrolytes before sauna use to stay hydrated, especially after a workout.
- Wait at least 10 minutes after your workout before entering the sauna to avoid dizziness and fainting.
- Don’t overdo it by spending too much time in the sauna. Follow your body’s limits, just as you would during a workout.
- Inform someone before entering the sauna and have them check on you at the beginning and end of your session.
- Before your sauna session, indulge in a soothing warm shower to ensure you enter the sauna without any impurities. This practice not only keeps dirt at bay but also aids in opening your pores and easing tension in your muscles.
Ideal sauna duration and other parameters
To maximize the post-workout benefits, here are the ideal parameters of the sauna:
- Duration: 20-30 minutes
- Humidity: 10-20%
- Temperature: 176-194 degrees Fahrenheit
- Frequency: 4-7 sessions per week
Common types of sauna
A sauna is a small enclosed space that produces dry or moist heat and is primarily used for relaxation and therapeutic purposes.
Saunas are generally classified into two categories: Finnish-style saunas and Turkish-style saunas. Finnish saunas are known for their dry heat, while Turkish saunas produce a lot of steam.
The temperature ranges from 150 to 195°F and can be heated using various methods. Here are the most common types of sauna:
- Wood burning: This is a traditional finnish sauna type that uses wood-burning stoves to heat sauna rocks, resulting in high temperatures but low humidity.
- Steam rooms: Also known as “Turkish bath houses,” these saunas maintain low temperatures but high humidity levels, reaching up to 100 percent.
- Infrared saunas: Specialized lamps emit light waves to heat your body directly without warming the room, resulting in similar benefits to traditional saunas but at lower temperatures of around 140°F (60°C).
- Electrically heated sauna: In these saunas, an electric heater attached to the floor or wall is used to heat the room, creating high temperatures but low humidity.
Sauna before workout
While a sauna can offer several health benefits, taking a sauna before a workout is not recommended. Taking a sauna before a workout can pose several risks during your exercise routine. These risks can include:
- Low energy levels: Sauna use can cause a drop in blood pressure, which may lead to reduced energy levels during a workout. This could make it harder to maintain the desired level of intensity and duration of your exercise routine.
- Relaxed muscles: Spending time in a sauna can cause muscles to relax and become less responsive. This can lead to decreased muscle strength and coordination, making it harder to perform exercises safely and effectively.
- Dehydration: Saunas cause the body to sweat profusely, which can lead to a loss of fluids and electrolytes. This can increase the risk of dehydration. Dehydration can also lead to a decrease in exercise performance and can cause muscle cramps and fatigue.
The post-workout use of saunas can provide a plethora of health benefits. Nevertheless, it is vital to adhere to specific guidelines to ensure maximum benefits and maintain safety. Furthermore, avoiding using a sauna before exercise is advisable due to the potential risks involved.
|National Library of Medicine: Effects of far-infrared sauna bathing on recovery from strength and endurance training sessions in men
|PubMed: The blood pressure and heart rate during sauna bath correspond to cardiac responses during submaximal dynamic exercise
|National Library of Medicine: Sauna bathing is associated with reduced cardiovascular mortality and improves risk prediction in men and women: a prospective cohort study
|National Library of Medicine: Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review
|Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport: Effect of post-exercise sauna bathing on the endurance performance of competitive male runners