Typically a workout at the gym includes stretching, cardio, and/or weights. Though this regimen seems complete, it is missing something that could be vital—a visit to the sauna. Most gyms have one, but they are often overlooked because they are seen as a treat as opposed to something that will benefit one’s overall wellness. Many cultures include visits to a sauna as part of a routine to maintain their health thanks to the healing and cleansing properties of a sauna. These rooms will reach a temperature between 160 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit with low humidity.
How it Works
While working out does leave a person dripping with sweat, a sauna will provoke this same physical response without the effort of working out. When taking part in sweating in a sauna, the average person’s pulse will raise 30 percent as the blood flow works to cool the skin. While the circulatory system work on this, it is possible for a person to sweat out around 1 pint of fluid in as little as 20 minutes.
Many popular claims are made about the health benefits of saunas, but there is not a lot of scientific research available to support them. In general, sweating has been seen as a cleansing practice that holds many health benefits, and many supporters of the practice say that sweating will detoxify the body. The truth is that certain environmental contaminants will work their way into the tissue of the body, and sweating does play a small role in working to detoxify. The real detoxification of the body happens in the liver, lungs, and kidneys.
Research has shown that three weeks of sauna usage after exercise will increase an athlete’s endurance, likely because blood volume is increased. More research has proven that 30 minutes in the sauna will boost power and strength in healthy young men. Hitting the sauna after a workout will also accelerate the recovery of muscles.
In addition to the other health benefits of a sauna, spending time in a sauna will aid in those who are actively working to lose weight, though the weight loss benefits overall are many times exaggerated. Exercising in the heat has the ability to boost the metabolism by a small amount but likely will not cause a significant boost in caloric burn, while sitting still and sweating will help to burn just a few extra calories in addition to what has been burned in a workout.
For the most part, it is not advised for heart patients to take part in sweating in a sauna because the heart rate will jump anywhere from 100 to 160 beats per minute. Keeping this in mind, some studies have shown that men who suffer from hypertension that visit the sauna two times a week could experience a decrease in their blood pressure. 20 minutes would be a substantial amount of time to spend in the sauna, and hydration is always important. If you are at risk for high blood pressure, consult your physician prior to visiting a sauna.
After a hard workout, stepping into the sauna will help to relieve sore muscles. Many times, advice is given to those suffering with arthritis to spend some time sweating. Chronic fatigue and asthma are other diagnoses that will benefit from a sauna visit. Studies have shown that using a sauna will lower the blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, and strengthen vascular function. Those without chronic diseases will also see benefits such as a decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol as well as a decrease in total cholesterol after a few weeks of regular sauna usage.