Saunas have been around for over 2000 years, so suffice it to say, there must be something behind their longevity. Those who have tried saunas most likely know that few things beat a good sweat, especially after a tough workout, but what are the actual benefits? Regardless if you are a newbie or a sweat-soaked veteran, we will detail just how good saunas are for you.
Saunas range in temperature from 158 to 212 degrees with humidity levels anywhere from 10 to 20 percent (sometimes even higher!). As you may know, there are quite a few different types of saunas out there -- wood burning, electric, and infrared to name a few – but, despite what you may have heard, the benefits are fairly universal across all types. When you sit in a sauna, the surface temperature of your skin increases, which in turn increases your heart rate causing your blood vessels to widen. Given this increase in heart rate, we think it goes without saying, but a friendly reminder that you should always make sure you are hydrated before and during a session in the sauna. Drink a glass of water before getting in, and make sure to stop if you feel dizzy or lightheaded.
5 Benefits of Saunas
Benefit 1 - Recover Faster: Researchers discovered during a study in Finland, the birthplace of saunas, that 30 minutes in a sauna helped recovery times after strength and endurance training. The addition of heat helps penetrate the body’s cells more efficiently, actually penetrating into the body’s neuromuscular system, which has been shown, to shorten recovery times. The heat also dilates your blood vessels, which helps increase blood flow, which in turn speeds up the body’s natural recovery process.
Benefit 2 - Reduce Pain Intensity: Another amazing benefit of saunas is the increased release of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural feel good chemicals, which have a mild tranquilizing effect, causing a reduction in pain. This helps relieve the aches and pains of muscle soreness and joint stiffness.
Benefit 3 - Saunas Flush Toxins: As your body’s core temperature increases in a sauna, blood vessels dilate (as mentioned above), radiating the heat from the core out to the skin. This stimulates countless sweat glands, which of course, produces a whole lot of sweat. This sweat is mainly comprised of water, but with that water comes trace amounts of harmful toxins accrued through regular interactions with your environment. This includes mercury, lead, zinc, and copper to name a few. Wanting less toxins is a no brainer. This reduces a large swath of health risks including, but not limited to, cancer.
Benefit 4 - Improve Cardiovascular Function:
With the rise in your core body temperature comes an increased heart rate, sometimes as high as 60-70 beats per minute. With this increased heart rate and blood vessel dilation, comes increased cardiac output. Essentially, you are training your cardiovascular response to be more efficient and increasing the quality of the lining of your blood vessels. Increased cardiovascular response will help you get oxygenated blood where it needs to go faster, making you a better athlete overall.
Benefit 5 - Saunas Relieve Stress: This is an easy one to miss or ignore if you don’t take a moment to appreciate it! We mentioned before that saunas cause the release of the body’s happy chemicals, endorphins, but this is not the full extent of the stress relief benefits. You are in a warm, private place free of distractions of the outside world. You can take this time to fully relax and center yourself. Studies have shown stress linked to a huge amount of health issues, so any time you get to unplug and relax goes a long way in combatting its negative effects.
These are just a few of the many amazing benefits of saunas and we, of course, would love to hear more about what you love the most about your sessions in the heat. Let us know some of your favorite things about saunas on social media, and if you have never tried it, feel free to ask a member of staff for pointers and give it a whirl the next time you’re in the gym!
August 22, 2017